The Administrator of Woodland Terrace, Sherri Spillman, was true to her word and I just received a call from Sylvia Gray, the Business Office Manager. We spoke for almost thirty minutes and she was very pleasant.
We began the conversation by discussing why it was that my mom didn’t have Medicaid (or Medicare), and how frustrated I am that it’s been more than six full months and it seems like no progress at all has been made on that front. She gave me her work email address and I promised her I’d email her and my sister 1 so they could connect about my mom’s financial situation. Sylvia said she’d need copies of all sorts of paperwork and forms and bank statements, etc. and that it was probably in our best interest to simply start the entire Medicaid application process again from the beginning. The current state of health care in this country sucks. There is no other way to say it. Things need to change. 2
Sylvia said that there was a $50.00 set-up fee to get a phone line installed in mom’s room, and the service is $20.00/mo. We talked about how it probably — at this point, at least — doesn’t make sense to do that, because she’s so overcome by her depression that she has been unable to do something as simple as answer a ringing telephone for about a year. We agreed that the best option would be for me to call the nurses station first to arrange a time to talk to her, and then call again at the prearranged time when the nurses could have her ready and close to a phone. (It’s really heartbreaking.)
Sylvia noted that it’s really a problem that mom isn’t receiving Medicare. (I decided it wasn’t appropriate for me to mention that after dealing with all of this for all of 2012 I still don’t really understand the difference between Medicaid and Medicare.)
Then we had a short exchange in which I detailed why it wasn’t really an option for me to move my mom to Los Angeles or for my sister to try to move her to Seattle. (The cost of living is much too high in LA, and I have a toddler. My sister doesn’t have a career or permanent residence in Seattle.)
Sylvia asked me about my refusal to consider that my mom should be there as a “long-term” resident, because she said she had that in her notes. I told her that I hadn’t ever “refused” anything, but that numerous doctors have told me that my mom has not had a stroke, has no discernible brain damage, and does not suffer from dementia. My mother has suffered a traumatic mental breakdown and has severe depression stemming from psychological issues. She requires acute psychotherapy and — with good counseling — should be able to return to something of a normal life. She should not need to be “institutionalized” for the rest of her days.
Sylvia understood what I was saying, and offered to talk to her Social Services director about getting my mom involved with the community and engaging her. But she stressed that Woodland Terrace is not a mental hospital and they aren’t prepared to provide serious psychotherapy. 3 She said that — just like Grace Manor and Coastal Rehab — there was a psychologist and a psychiatrist that each visited Woodland Terrace once per week, but that neither really provides what you’d consider classic psychotherapy, “like you’d see on television,” she said. That was very, very disheartening to hear.
We then returned to the problem of the telephone, and Sylvia said that the cordless phones at the nurses station don’t always work down the hallways, and that my issues with Cheryl not being able to figure out how to connect me to my mom shouldn’t be too worrisome, because the nurses aren’t receptionists and don’t really have a responsibility to understand how the phone systems work.
Sylvia promised that she would get my mom on the phone with me at some point today. And she did.
1 My sister has been managing my mom’s Social Security checks for the last year or so.
2 If you have not yet done so, please read this very clear and simple explanation of Obamacare.
3 That’s more than a little disappointing, because multiple physicians at Halifax Hospital — notably Dr. Panja on my birthday — promised me that they’d make sure it was clear to the discharge coordinators at Halifax that my mother required a facility that offered comprehensive psychological therapy.