Tag Archives: economic disparity

I Have The Right To Be Treated With Dignity

I must intellectualize this to cut my emotion.

The side walls are gray. Flat paint on the rough surface. The drop ceiling must be 10 feet high, at least. I feel small, but I might be able to touch both walls with my fingertips, from where I’m sitting.

Health Center Office

The far walls make this a five-sided office. They are at weird angles. That might be what sent my discomfort over the top. They are light beige. The one on my right is longer than the one on my left. The air is still, odorless. This place resembles the concrete box that a coffin is placed in.

On my left, slightly behind me, is a picture. Art work, sort of. A mass-produced copy of a watercolor portrait of a couple of kids. On hardboard. Hanging crooked. Below it is a sliding glass window, with a desk on the other side of the wall, with chairs facing the window, and another window like it on the other side of the small, unoccupied office. My neck hurts when I turn toward it.

On the cabinet that was placed against the far wall – the longer one – is two photos. One of a young boy, framed. Probably a school picture. Beside it is one of a young girl, slightly older, propped up in front of something framed (maybe an older photo of her?).

“ID and insurance card?” she asks. I take them out, and slide them across the desk to woman on the other side. I make my breath go as deeply as I can. It won’t go past the top buttoned-up-button on my shirt. I try to push a breath down into my belly. It won’t go.

I uncross my legs to plant my feet firmly on the floor to help me feel grounded. No carpet to settle my feet into. Hard vinyl flooring. It is a dark pattern. Abstract. Angular shapes of grays and tans. These colors might be known for subduing people, but I’m not feeling it. These sedating colors are making me impatient to get out of here. To anywhere. To outside. To sunshine and green and lively colors and traffic.

My breath is deeper now.

“Sign here.” She untangles its cord as she slides an electronic signature pad toward me.

“What am I signing?”

“Forms.”

“I think I should read the forms before I sign them?” I try to look at her quizzically, but I can’t see her face over the top of her computer monitor, even though I’m tall. I have to lean way over to the side to see around it. Leaning sideways makes me feel dizzy in this room.

One of the papers says that I will behave myself, do what I’m told, not carry firearms in this building… I never had to sign paperwork like this before. I tell the woman, “Do you know that studies show that people with mental illness diagnoses are less likely to be criminals, break laws, or attack other people than the general public?” She sputters a response of doubt.

Decision For Dignity

This is not where I want to seek help with my recovery from my mental illness, even though this is the only place, within a two hours’ drive from my home, where I have found psychiatrists who accept Medicare health insurance and new patients. I wish that my insurance covered the psychiatrist who has been advising me brilliantly.

I am following one of the options that I discussed with the psychologist: I am asking my physician (who accepts Medicare) to manage my prescriptions for psychiatric medications, as long as I continue to feel well.

Dignity For All

I am using Medicare this year for a few reasons: I save thousands of dollars on health insurance premiums, I want to know what poorer people experience, and I want to support a program that is supposed to provide affordable health care to everyone who qualifies. I also don’t want to support businesses that make large profits on providing essential services to those who can afford to pay the premiums.

When I talked with the intake psychologist who assessed me, and who assigned me to a counselor and a psychiatrist, he said that the paperwork, and a similar sign in the waiting room, were there to help me feel safe.

I would feel safer if the Center would tell us what we can expect, rather than what we can’t do. I feel safer in other professionals’ offices where I see positive affirmations, rather than signing “I shall not” promises that conjure fear.

My thought is, “why do they think that they need me to sign this?” rather than, “I’m glad that all of the patients here had to make these promises.”

The psychologist finally stated that the paperwork and signs were the result of “overpaid lawyers protecting the Center”. As I suspected, it has nothing to do with my feeling safe; it has everything to do with reducing the Center’s liability exposure. Even when they don’t expect people to read the forms that they’re signing.

As far as I recall, when I previously signed in for services at hospital-affiliated health centers, I have received a Patient’s Bill of Rights. I did not receive anything like that from this hospital-affiliated Health Center.

I share my story with the hope of enlightening you who have never been to such a Health Center, and you who go to such places and see nothing wrong. I want everyone to expect to be treated with dignity. Before my intake for outpatient services this week, I heard from health care professionals, and others, that people were really happy with the services that the Center provided. I wasn’t prepared for the psychologist to be derogatory. I want employees at the Center to sign a form that says:

I will behave myself
I will not carry fire arms
I will not raise my voice
I will be patient with you
I will not call you names
I will treat you with dignity

 

Image Credit:
Claustrophobia by Timothy Allen. Used under Creative Commons License BY-SA 2.0. Modified by Grace Buchanan.

Petition: Claire O’Brien

When I first heard about Claire’s story, I thought that it was an issue of concealing a witness to protect him or her from being heard in court. I thought that a reporter was claiming to have disputable information, and stated that it came from a credible, though anonymous, source. I thought that a reporter was expecting to testify on behalf of an anonymous person. I thought that the reporter was justly fired from her job, but since her employer refused to reveal the reason, she imposed a wild story about it.

I discovered that this was like the game of “telephone” in which a simple message is orally passed along a line of people, as accurately as possible, and the last version is found to be quite different from the original one.

I discovered that award-winning investigative reporter Claire O’Brien gave a voice to Latinos who often had no other voice, by publishing their stories in a newspaper. She obtained information about a murder from people who trusted her. A subpoena demanded her notes. The judge threatened to hold her in contempt of court if she did not reveal a certain source who revealed embarrassing and incriminating information about the popular person who was killed. She refused to reveal her notes and source. She won an award for the murder news story…after she was fired by the newspaper that had employed her while she wrote it. Quickly, organizations that claimed to support free speech and professional journalism joined a campaign to discredit Ms. O’Brien.

She is now destitute, dependent on public aid. Lawyers and reporters who are aware of the facts have been unable to share her story because of likely repercussions. Public pressure is her hope for justice, since she trusts that Tom Mauro, a key player in this dispute, will set the record straight, when pressed.

Please:
1. read her story
2. participate in her petition to Tony Mauro
3. share her story with others

Thank you for sharing Claire’s hopes and dreads.

Lincoln to King: the next Great Emancipator

A river of emotion swells in me as a little-girl version of my voice overflows, singing with the marchers who are on their way to the Lincoln Memorial for a celebration of the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation that freed the slaves, and “the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation.

We shall overcome
We shall overcome
We shall overcome some day
Deep in my heart
I do believe
We shall overcome some day

I long to believe, deep in my heart, that we will overcome so we can all have freedom.

via Martin Luther King ‘I Have a Dream’ speech: Re-live his famous speech – World Story.
Transcript

As I watched this video today, I hung on to every word, recognizing that my understanding and attachment to this speech are deeper than ever.

Sure, “Whites Only” paper signs are gone from water fountains, buses and schools. Sure, 50 years ago, Dr. King received the Nobel Peace Prize. Sure, 50 years ago, the U.S. Civil Rights Act outlawed many forms of discrimination. Sure, Blacks can vote. Sure, the US now has a Black president. But how crippled is he, like many other people, by “the manacles of segregation” and “chains of discrimination” that persist? How much does he represent the end of “the long night of captivity” that people have endured? Where do invisible “Whites Only” signs still exist? What does “freedom” mean today for people who are African American, Native American, Latino, Asian, Muslim, Jewish, women, gay, sick, disabled, homeless, hungry, orphaned, aged, jailed…?

As President Obama confirmed, economic disparity is a real issue, not just an illusion.


via President Obama Marks the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington | The White House.
Transcript.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Martin Luther King, Jr., by Betsy Graves Reyneau [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
What is, or would be, the fate today for a Great Emancipator like Dr. King, and a march for freedom like the one in 1963? Dr. King came 100 years after President Lincoln and the Emancipation Proclamation. 100 years later, will someone else hold their title? Who will move our world forward to provide more fair shots for the many, instead of more privileges for the few?

President Abraham Lincoln, 1865
Abraham Lincoln, by Alexander Gardner, 1865 [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
When President Lincoln promoted the Emancipation Proclamation, he reminded people that the U.S. Declaration of Independence “gave hope [for liberty] to the world for all time…that in due time the weights should be lifted from all men, and that all should have an equal chance.”

Let’s remember President Lincoln’s message, as we listen to or read Dr. King’s speech again, and reach for a deeper understanding and appreciation of emancipators. Then, let’s renew our personal commitment to freedom for all.

See People, Share

In the Introduction to his blog, Dennis Cardiff wrote:

I have come to know many people, now friends, who for various reasons are, or were, homeless…

What has been seen cannot be unseen.”

...be the change you wish to see in the world... Dennis Cardiff

via Introduction to Gotta Find A Home

Dennis reminded me that I used to shut my eyes to people who begged on the streets. I made myself blind to them as I studied the traffic lights carefully, or deliberately engaged my traveling companions in focused conversations that distracted us from seeing them. I couldn’t bear to read their cardboard signs, look at their dirty old clothes that were inappropriate for the weather, or see humanity in their faces.

One day, I saw a woman standing on one of the street corners. Seeing a woman instead of a man was the drop of water that broke the levee in me. Nutrition bars had accumulated in the glove compartment of my car, so I gave them to her. I silently hoped that she would take them to whatever home she had, and share them with many, like the story in the Bible about Jesus feeding an entire crowd with a few loaves of bread and a couple of fish. Then, I kept my supply stocked up, and shared it every week.

Eventually, the same man was on the same corner for several weeks. I felt satisfied when I discovered which nutrition bars he preferred. The way his face lit up when he saw me made me feel great; he looked more human now than stone-faced, even though nearly everyone ignored him and overlooked the opportunity to respond directly to his needs.

When I stopped seeing him, I stopped giving out the bars.

Now, Dennis reminds me of when Joan Baez sang,

There, but for fortune, go you or I.”

I need to restock my car with nutrition bars.