Thursday, June 28, 2012

Affordable Care Act Upheld Today!

I've already paid top dollar for my health insurance until November when I'll officially be on Medicare.
So why am I so happy about this?
I'm a nurse. I've seen too many poor people "treated" poorly medically because they did not have insurance. I've known people to go without needed care because they had no insurance and couldn't afford to pay for what they needed.
I believe that health is not something only the wealthy should have. I believe that a healthy society is necessary for the entire society to survive. I believe that we are responsible for ourselves and each other. I believe in the words and deeds of an itinerant teacher from 2000 years ago.
It was in the early 1990s that I spoke at the White House Rose Garden in front of President Bill Clinton, Mrs. Clinton, Vice President Gore and Mrs. Gore about my personal health care story: caring for my dying mother in a rural area with no hospice available. It was not long after Mrs. Clinton's father had died and I wrote her a letter offering my condolences and telling her my story. I wanted her to know, as she worked for health care reform, that access to that care was very important. That letter got me a trip to the White House.
That was nearly twenty years ago. Twenty-friggin'-years it took to get us only this far in the battle to have ACCESS to adequate health care for all of our citizens regardless of their ability to pay or pre-existing condition.
The next step is a single payer.
I will be on mine in November.
It took me sixty-five years to get there.
Let's not take that long for that next step...

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Health Care Reform - a small personal story

There are a lot of stories out there about the need for health care reform...actually insurance reform.
I recently retired and in doing so I knew I would have to go on COBRA until November when I would be eligible for Medicare. I also knew that I would be paying almost $700/month for it.

I was supposed to get the COBRA information in the mail but after several weeks, there was nothing. It seems that since the company I worked for had been sold there was a new health insurance broker (another middle man?) who probably hadn't submitted my need for COBRA.

I became aware of that when the pharmacy, trying to refill my meds, called me asking for my "new card". Silly me. I thought that since I was paying (at least when I got the promised coupons) for the same coverage, I would use the same card. Nope. Since COBRA hadn't gone through I would have to pay full price for medications - one med would be more than $400 for one month. So I asked for one week of the most important meds since I was getting ready to pay out almost $700 for the first month of coverage.

Then I worked with the company's Benefits Manager to overnight the information (and my check) so I could get the card. ASAP and then get the rest of my meds ASAP.

There is something wrong with insurance companies needing brokers.
There is something wrong with health insurance being connected to having a job.
There is something wrong with one medication costing more than a car payment.
There is something wrong...

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Weird Day

It was a weird, long day.

I'm still in the office twice a week. My last day will be Tuesday. Everything has been handed over to my replacement and since I'm officially retiring, I'm not even helping her.
There was a meeting in the office with all of the eastern administrators, people I've known for years. I kept my office door shut. I felt odd. I really didn't know what to say if someone approached me.
It's not as if there was a retirement luncheon for me so all of us could say say our official good-byes. No official closure.

The closing of PennMed's Allentown office as been like that, a slow tortuous good-bye as people are let go every other week. I likened it to the multiple surgeries on a bad leg - first a toe, then the forefoot, then the entire foot...Well, you get the picture.
Today I felt like a hanger-on. Someone not invited to the party -- when I was the one that chose not to go.
Like I said: weird.

I did do some reading of professional material and reviewed new policies and procedures that were sent out--just in case.
I am going to PADONA next week to keep up my credits for my RN.
I'm not sure how long I'll do that. My back says no general duty nursing every again and I never did go back to school to finish my BSN. Now I don't want it.

It's hard to let go of something that's been a major part of your life, even when you're the one pushing it away.
Definitely weird.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Employment History - The Early Days

I actually started to work full time in 1968. I was a staff nurse on one of the oldest medical/surgical units of Easton Hospital - 3 North. There were two six-bed wards (no privacy with that) with running water and toilets down the hall. There were private rooms that usually held the most difficult patients as in confused with dementia (called senility then) who were restrained to their beds and who usually hit you when you tried to give them care. The private rooms were also reserved for isolation, mostly TB, and reverse isolation, usually for the severely burned. I ruined several uniforms with silver nitrate (then used for treating burns).

Uniforms - not scrubs. Nurses wore white, white stockings, white shoes and of course, the cap. If someone walked down the hall dressed in all in white and wearing a cap, you knew she (mostly shes back then) was a nurse. Today, everyone wears a scrub and their name tags shows their first name in huge letters and their discipline in very small letters. Nurse? Aide? Housekeeping?

I had a patient who hit me in the mouth and drew blood. I had another one who hit me on the head with a huge alcohol bottle (placed outside of an isolation room), knocking me out. I helped a newly admitted patient take off his leg prosthesis but the sock on the other foot was more difficult; it was stuck to his skin, having been on his foot for many months.

And with all of this and working weekends and holidays, I can say:
I hated every minute.
Not what you expected me to say?
I worked for low pay for lots of responsibility.
I have a bad back from caring for patients with no help.
I hated every minute because
it was not what I wanted.
But I made the best of it for almost 44 years.

I took care of hundreds, maybe thousands, of patients/clients/residents.

Now it's time to take care of Mitzi...and Morgan.

Thursday, March 08, 2012

More Changes

Now that "the company" has been sold and the office from which I worked closed, I'm coming to terms with more changes than just retiring.

I've worked with many of these people for more than fifteen years. I've worked with the people in our facilities for the same amount of time. Most of them I will never see again, or hear about.

When I decided to retire this year, I thought "the office" would always be there, my work-friends would always be there. I would be able to go back every so often, having lunch, go out to dinner, gossip, find out what was going on with people I knew and liked. But most of them are going out on their own, trying to find jobs (and jobs with health insurance - that's a biggie). Many of them are over 40 - some close to 60 or 60. They're worried.

And I'm worried for them. I like them - all of them. I "friended" a lot of them on Facebook.
But it won't be the same.
If I win the lottery, I'll have a giant PennMed reunion.
And then we can all catch up...and gossip.

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Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Retirement or Change Part Two

To say I'm getting a bit anxious is an understatement--or maybe it's the four cups of coffee I had this morning.
Whatever it is, I am feeling some twinges about being unemployed. I won't be one of "the very poor". I won't be living in the PT Cruiser and dining on cat food. My lifestyle won't change that much. My work-style will.

From 1968 onward I've worked full time, with breaks for childbirth and various surgeries. Notice I said childbirth, not rearing. I was the major support in the family and after the baby I needed to get back to work--quickly. In fact it was so fast the obstetrician was concerned about me --I'd had a C-section.

After my daughter was born I came to resent my job--I had to leave her to go to it. I worked evenings in the local hospital when she was an infant, so my family life was one day a week and every other weekend. I worked most holidays for the extra money. I really didn't want to advance--to become a head nurse or a supervisor--even though I was offered both positions. I wanted to be home with my little girl. I had to swallow the disappointment and walk from our small apartment to the hospital every afternoon--and back home at night.

Eventually, as Heather began elementary school, I got a job on the day shift and then with the visiting nurses. But by then I'd decided to pursue my degree.  When she was six I was working a full time job, going to college at least one evening a week, volunteering for the PTA and the Cancer Society, and working as a private duty nurse at least one night on the weekend. I was on the working-mother treadmill and I was getting used to the pace.

I stopped seeking a degree with the divorce--lack of money and someone to watch Heather at night. I also stopped the private duty work. Money was tight with no child support but we made it.
After a few years I decided I wanted to go back to my dream of being a writer and I took an adult ed class at the community college--a class on writing your first novel.
And so I embarked on another second job--one that I continue to this day.

In the last decade I've been the Director of Quality Improvement and then Vice President of Nursing of a long term care management company. Even as I got older I still found myself on that treadmill. Not with school, since a degree wouldn't get me any further than I already was. Not as a mother--Heather was grown and on her own. But with job increased responsibility and worry.

Soon I'll be stopping that treadmill. It won't come to a dead stop--I'll be working two days a week for a month. But it will be stopping.

And already I can see myself filling in the spaces with writing and building my writer's platform.

But I still have the twinges.
Twinges of change and going into the unknown.

Friday, February 03, 2012


I've been thinking about "change" a lot lately - not the stuff in the bottom of my purse either. This is major change - major changes. It (the thinking) began when I decided to switch to the Facebook Timeline instead of waiting for it to be thrust upon me. I mentioned on said Facebook that the older I got the less I liked change. Someone commented that "change is good". well, no - not all change is good, of course. But some changes are...many are...

So I'm thinking about "change" or the "changes" in my life that are coming at me fast and furious:

1. I'm retiring from a profession I've had for more than 40 years.
2. I'm retiring from a company I've been with for more than 22 years.
3. The company is being sold and is going through its own changes.
4. I'm marrying a man I adore after being single for more than 30 years.
5. I'm moving away from the area I've known for 47 years.

I'm going to do what I've always wanted to do...write. And now with the changes in the publishing industry, Morgan (also a writer) and I decided to form an LLC and "work" at our writing. Wolf Howl Publishing is our brand-spanking new company. It will just be the two of us for now. We'll be Indie Authors getting our books out see if anyone reads them.

And so these changes are many and fun and scary and...good.