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As I come to know these fine people, they share with me more of their personal and sensitive stories. Their collective story is what I am trying to share with you as my way of breaking the stereotypical beliefs that exist. "Blog names" have occasionally been given to me by the person whose story I am telling. Names are never their actual names and wherever I can do so, I might use the opposite pronoun (his/her, etc.) just to help increase their privacy.

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Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Allison at Episcopal: "Get Out of My Emergency Room!" A Story of Medicaid Vs. Private Insurance

I will never forget the day as long as I live.  Allison (not her actual name) had come up to me saying that she wanted to talk to me but had to go do her shot first.  I said okay and please be careful.  She said she would be right over there on the steps that lead to the El (elevated train line) on Somerset Street. 

A few minutes later there was a commotion on those steps.  I looked up that direction and there lying at a 45-degree angle on the steps was the same winter coat from which Allison had said she will be right back.  People were yelling:  "Does anybody have Narcan?"  I had two units in my pocket.  I dashed up those steps asking people to get out of my way.  A face growing increasingly blue with ears to match told me that Allison was in serious trouble.  I gave her one Narcan as two police officers looked on in support and crowd control.  I checked Allison for breathing.  At first, there was some, not much but some.  I tried gently shaking her hoping that the Narcan would quickly take its effect and revive her failing body.  Monitoring her vitals, I was aware that she was maintaining a pulse.  Her body was starting to slip down those elevated rail line steps.  I tried my best to hold her up and to keep her head protected as she drifted toward Kensington Avenue. 

Continuing to monitor her breathing I realized she was not and so I gave her some very light mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.  As I held her I was almost yelling "Allison, do not do this to your children!  Come back to us now!"

A few minutes after a second Narcan, Allison began to revive and appeared very confused.  By this time the ambulance had arrived and she was able to walk to it and was transported to Episcopal Hospital.  In a moment in which I was not in the room, the nurse told her to 

"Get out of my emergency room!"  

I could not find Allison for the rest of the night.  I did not learn of these details until the following day when Allison explained to me why she left the emergency room. I reported that nurse to the administration at Episcopal Hospital and supposedly the issue was addressed very firmly and included safeguards to assure such a thing would never happen again.

In my work with men and women, as they come into detox, I’ve had the privilege of hearing many stories.  I will never forget the story of another young woman who overdosed in the privacy of her own house and just happened to be discovered by a family friend who walked in and saw her on the brink of death.  This family member provided Narcan and CPR. This particular young lady was transported to a local hospital where she was treated and transferred to a detox facility that helped her address her situation and guided her to move on in a healthy way.

Allison lives in a world of substance use and addiction and homelessness and is reliant on the Medicaid system to cover her medical expenses to help her move on in a healthy way with her life.  Months after this story that I have just shared with you she remains on the streets of Kensington suffering to a staggering degree that breaks my heart every time I see her.  She is a good and fine and wonderful person. She is a mother of several.  She is worthy of dignity and honor and respect and love.  She is victimized time and time again by the obvious aspects of living on the street.  She is also victimized time and time again by the barbaric Medicaid system that cannot or will not provide the care that she desperately needs and wants.

The second young lady who I have described in this story is fortunate enough to have private insurance. Upon entering this acute stage of her substance use disorder and addiction, the processes that exist within the private insurance realm of healthcare kicked right in.  She immediately began receiving the health care that she needed and wanted so that she could move on with her life in a healthy way. 

Both of these women are worthy of dignity and honor and respect and love. One received it thanks to private insurance.  Allison did not.  It is high time that we level the playing field and make it possible for all human beings to receive the same quality care that is available to people who have private insurance.

1 comment:

  1. The Medicaid system is ridiculous! My daughter isn't on drugs, but has been suffering from a pain that is so terrible she has become suicidal just to get rid of it. Her doctor requested that she has an MRI but the insurance denied it. Shes keeps telling me she can no longer live in excruciating pain, but they won't do anything. She's been to the ER countless times, and each time they give her a script for muscle relaxers and a shot of whatever for pain, and she comes home in the same condition. She has 3 kids which sometimes she can't even bathe ot change a diaper because of the extreme pain, yet they refuse to help my daughter. The Medicaid system is such a crappy waste!