Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Our Own Jules Injured In DC

One of our blog readers, Jules of Denver, Colorado, recently visited Washington, DC and was struck in a hit and run in DuPont Circle. She was seriously injured, sustained two broken legs, fractured cervical vertebrate and an internal bleeding in cervical vertebrate's veins. Not only that, her glasses were destroyed -- she has 20/250 vision which is legally blind to start with.

She was sent to George Washington University Hospital. There, she was pretty mistreated by the doctors and nurses. They knew that she cannot read the documents without her glasses, but that does not matter to them. Jules has requested her friend to get in touch with me, I was horrified.

Here is the message from Jules via one person:
What is horrifying is how the hospital is treating her. If ever there needed someone on her side who can shake things up, it's now. The first 36 hours she had no interpreter in E.R. at all, despite the fact the Administrator admitted to me they have clergy on staff who sign. Julie was made to sign a living will, organ donation, surgery consent among others, despite the fact she has 250 vision without her glasses which were destroyed in the hit and run. She couldn't read the forms that she was signing and they knew it.

She has spotty at best, access to interpreters, somewhat better now after calling and bellowing ADA at the top of my lungs at the Administrator, because George Washington University hospital allowed their contract with a local Interpreter company expire. Administrator told me it was because they wouldn't return her calls, even though she was unaware when I first spoke to her, that Julie was deaf at all. The interpreter broke protocol and let me know that the situation is that the contract hasnt' been renewed, and the nurses seem to keep "forgetting" to call in an order to a company who has no contract with them, for an interpreter for the following day. At best, she's had access to interp's for a few hours at a time, going as long as a day or two without them.

The hospital administrator told me she had met Jules legal obligation to communication access by providing her with a TTY. However, was shocked to find out that a TTY such as the one she has required a receiving TTY on the other end, as "words come across the screen I've seen it myself."

The hospital Concierge when contacted, didn't want to give a message to a Deaf Patient because and I quote here.. his name was william by the way.. "How can I read it to her if she's Deaf?" I had to explain to the idiot that she could read IF she has her glasses because she's not a moron. His reading skills were not necessary. I'm sure they're fabulous.

The nurse on duty Thursday refused to give a message to her despite the fact that she hadn't had an Interpreter accessable to her all day, because it wasn't "My job". I asked her name, and she hung up on me.

Jules was thrilled to receive a bottle of shampoo and an air matress following said snit fit to the Administrator over her lack of care, on sunday. She didn't know how she was going to get her hair washed, but hey, she had a little bottle of shampoo.

She was originally told she was being shipped to Craig Hospital in the Denver region, on Saturday or Sunday. Jules asked me to make sure they had an interp there for her when she got there, as she wasn't getting good access as it was in D.C. I called Craig Hospital, and they informed me that not only were they not able to accept any new Spinal Cord injury patients as they're full, but they couldn't accept one with a bleed such as hers. It was dangerous to move her. They had no record of her coming in, no notice from D.C. of her condition, and had nothing to evaluate even if they could take her should they have a bed. I gave her the number to the Administrator at GWU, and she then called me back a few minutes later to inform me that the Administration at GWU refused to discuss her with them, denied she was being sent there, and if anyone had any questions about interpreters to ask Julie herself. All this despite the fact I was calling on Julie's behalf at her request simply to make sure she had an Interp available when she got there. A fact both Adminstrators knew well.

Jules has repeatedly asked for intervention on her behalf, I've called everyone I know, I've rattled every cage I can think of. She asked me if I'd rattled your cage yesterday when I spoke to her via an interpreter who actually showed up.

So here I am. Rattling your cage. Don't take my word for it, Talk to Jules if you can get through. They're planning on shipping her out on a commercial flight tomorrow to Colorado, if they're not lying to her again, to Spalding hospital. This is the latest, not the most accurate if history proves correct. She's a bit worried about getting on the plane, because she's been informed on the one hand that if the bleed in her neck clots it could paralyze her or kill her. She was then informed on Sunday by the Dr. that they would give her a shot to counteract the blood thinner that was preventing said clot. She's now being told, remarkably despite there's no additional testing to the contrary, hey they're mistaken, different kinda bleed, must be safe to ship her and have taken her off coumadin. Insurance refuses to cover Medivac, something that all the medical professionals agreed to up to this point, that she needed. So commercial is her only option, and they're pushing her to get up on her feet and walk with a broken neck on two broken legs so she'll qualify for the flight. The commercial airlines apparently won't take her if she's as injured as she is, unless they can show marked improvement in mobility and that she's not "medically fragile". Which hey she is.. seems to be about getting her the hell out of D.C. rather than treating her with respect and ethics.

By the way, GWU says that this is a "rare" occurance, as they "rarely get in deaf" and they RARELY require assistance. Really? You could chunk a rock from the hospital and hit Gallaudet. They've got an active E.R. Suppose Deaf never get injured in D.C.? If so I want to move there! The interpreter who was interp'ing for Jules sunday when I told her this, broke protocol again, and told me that was a lie, they, when they had an active contract, were there on a weekly basis if not daily and was herself horrified by how Jules is being treated.

She's being glared at by medical staff if there's no interp around to "tend to her needs". She's being treated like she's a moron, and she frankly doesn't know which bit of info is true. They seem to be shoving her towards a door, any door and concentrating on getting her the hell out of their hospital rather than concentrating on accurate information and access to communication. She is CONSISTANTLY being treated without knowing what the hell it's for or why other than obviously for her injuries. So she can't protest, she can't really question, because the staff isn't trained to take their damned time and communicate with her.

Jules is being swallowed by politics and incompetence. Cross your fingers she gets to Denver with no more damage than she's already encountered in D.C.

Upon learning of this, I quickly got in touch with a lawyer in Washington, DC that specializes in disability rights. I then called GW Hospital about this.

After getting the brunt of transfers to the proper person, I got ahold of Administrator -- before I could talk about this, she muttered which the VRS Operator interpreted: "Oh, I know who you are talking about!"

I expressed my dismay of what is happening, the administrator said that she is not at liberty to discuss about anyone else because of HIPAA law, but the hospital is working to rectifying the problem. I asked her where Jules is. She mentioned that she was discharged to another hospital in Denver.

I then placed a call to Craig Hospital in Denver -- they hadn't admitted anyone by her name. They also said that George Washington University Hospital has not gotten in touch with them about Jules. I do not know where she is as of now.

It is shame that a prominent hospital located in one of America's largest Deaf Communities continues to fail the Deaf patients when they sought for help.

Of course, I'm still on this case as of today. Trying to locate Jules to make sure that she's OK and get some well-deserved care.

UPDATE: Finally got ahold of Jules in Denver area. She is with her mother at Spalding Hospital. Got her connected with the lawyers in DC. As of now, Jules is doing OK and has an interpreter by her side to guide her through the rehabilitation. IN time, the lawyers will be able to get her consent in order to do what is needed to blast GW Hospital for their mistreatment.


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