Joe’s blog #60 – I try to give them the benefit of the doubt

Well, the Health Services Director has responded to my appeal of the Wardens decision re my grievance concerning the difficulty I am having in getting the appropriate prosthetic leg. For the grievance and my appeal see my earlier blogs. The response is as follows:

“Your grievance appeal complaint has been reviewed along with the response from Level 1 and your complaint that not having a new prosthetic is delaying your ability to walk independently.
Based on the information provided and upon further investigation , I concur with the Level 1 response and have determined your grievance UNFOUNDED. It is reported by Nurse Rose that you are currently being followed by the Physical Therapy department using your prosthetic issued in May 2015. It is further reported that you are doing well with the current prosthetic; however, you are pending approval for a new prosthetic device. This issue is governed by OP 750.3.
If you have any further issues, please submit a sick call request for further evaluation of your medical needs and treatment plan. You are encouraged to follow the recommendations of the health care staff as well. There is no violation of policy/procedure regarding this issue. No further action is needed from this level.” dated: 4-15-16

For sure, I am back in Physical Therapy and, a request for new prosthetic is pending approval. Both of those actions only came about because the grievance was filed and, then, only while it was pending a decision by the Warden. So I believe any disinterested party who followed my complaint from the original informal complaint to the Health Services Director’s response would have to question the finding that my complaint was/is “UNFOUNDED”. Is it unfounded because there was no basis for the complaint itself? Or unfounded because they hurriedly did a patchwork fix job before formally responding to my complaint and then declared the complaint unfounded?

I am doing well on my current prosthetic: a prosthetic that will not allow me to walk independently, i.e., I have to use it with a walker. Doing well even though the socket is I’ll fitted, and the leg itself is æ of an inch too long (in and of itself dangerous because once the knee unlocks when stepping forward, the foot swings freely, i.e., there is no resistance. The heel must strike while the leg is fully extended, or it simply collapses, and down one goes).

My new physical therapists, because they are new, have decided that I must start the process anew. Doesn’t matter that my last group of physical therapists determined that I had advanced as far as I could with my current prosthetic, and needed an advance prosthetic to walk independently.

Something is not right about that picture. So my long strange trip continues. It is frustrating to say the least. Not much else I can do about this from my end. So now I will turn the entire matter over to some very competent attorneys who will, from this point forward, decide how best to enforce the Americans with Disabilities Act. Further delays, further obfuscation, and specious double speak will not be countenanced.

And, speaking of the ADA…on 4-19-16, I was summoned for a meeting with the new assistant Warden, Ms. Harris, the head ADA Coordinator for the DOC, Mr. Morano, and Ms. Moss, the institutional ADA Coordinator. The subject of the meeting was my request for accommodations under the ADA, due to my hearing impairment. The DOC had me tested at the Medical College of Virginia. It was confirmed that I am deaf in my left ear, and have moderate loss in my right. I have difficulty hearing highs and lows. When there is a great deal of background noise I have difficulty understanding what is being said (because of that I compensate by reading lips ). I rarely understand anything that is said over the PA system. Makes for a good bit of confusion. I’ve asked for some basic accommodations, i.e., an ID card identifying me as hearing impaired, a sign to place in my cut that identifies me as same; and, at my expense a set of specialized headphones, with small portable equalizer, and a small alarm clock pillow shaker. Auxiliary aids that are permitted other hearing impaired prisoners here at Deerfield, and have elsewhere. All were cordial, all appeared concerned, and it was indicated that there would be no difficulty granting me accommodations. Of course the necessary bureaucratic paper chase has to be followed. I was instructed to send a request to the doctor so that the necessary information could be entered into the DOC’s computer system, CORIS. I was told all would be in order.

On the evening of the 19th, I forwarded the request to the medical department addressed to the doctor who oversees my care, i.e., Dr. Parsons. Well this evening my request was returned to me with a notation “Referred to D. Hudson”, by an unnamed staff person. D. Hudson is the Operations Manager for Deerfield. Not someone who can enter a medical order, i.e., not a doctor who can follow up on the recommendations made by the audiologist at MCV. In fact she is not someone who can access my medical records without written authorization from me.

I left the meeting on the 19th feeling good. I did as I was asked to do. Now I am beginning to wonder whether I was just sold another bridge in Brooklyn. Really makes me wonder if the powers that be truly grasp their obligations under the ADA. As much as I try to give them the benefit of the doubt the fact remains that Deerfield CC is woefully out of line where the ADA is concerned. Compliance is not voluntary. Failure to comply will only, in the end, result in unnecessary cost the taxpayers of Virginia.. Will keep you posted.

Peace, Joe G.

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