Saturday, October 23, 2010

becoming an advocate

photo from Gratitude

I mentioned Mr. Schultz in my last post. He's about ready to break my heart! In between phone calls and enquiries I am getting a lot of lectures from co-workers.

It started when I got the pick up notice from dispatch. Mr Schultz is actually a C-Pap client but because he is 85 and severely claustrophobic, he was unable to be fitted for the mask and when he started freaking for the second time on the second try, the Specialist ripped the mask off and said "You know what? This isn't going to work. Maybe you should pay for the Oxygen." Keep in mind that this all happened within six months of his wife's untimely death.

So instead of having a C-Pap machine to treat his apnea, he was being billed for an oxygen concentrator that would open his airways a bit at night and because he had not applied for any widow's benefits, nor updated his new address with the Senior's Program, he wasn't getting subsidies and couldn't pay for anything more than food & rent. After his bill went $600 Past Due, I was sent to take the concentrator away.

I did have to take it, but I also stayed long enough to contact Home Care. They'll get him some of the things he needs (like a wedge pillow and a shower chair) and they'll help him with payment plans in case he needs to buy something. I also called the Senior's Program and printed off the app for CPP Widow/ers Pension so that he'll be able to pay the overdue amount and (hopefully) get the C-Pap.

Bill cautioned me not to do "too much" or bill my time doing all this, but I believe in the end, he will qualify and we'll be able to make him a client in good standing.

Twice during our meeting, Mr Shultz cried when recounting how his wife used to take care of him. I looked him in the eye and told him, "Mr Schultz, I believe that you've had one of the roughest years of your life, but you are not alone. I will help you get the ball rolling with the paperwork, and Marianne will help you get the C-Pap. Until I can find you another, I will be your Advocate."

He promised to be more open-minded about talking to machines (Mr Schultz hung up the moment an electronic voice came on the phone, out of principal. But that principal was driving him out of his home and into the poorhouse) and he promised he'd be open-minded about the masks we'll have to try on his apnea.

The next day, I called Billing and confronted the woman that was pushing me to go out and get the concentrator. I explained a little before she commented that I was "new and idealistic" but I didn't agree. "I may be new to the company, but I'm forty-five and have a lot of experience with people."

"Everyone has a story," she cautioned.

"Exactly! I have a story too, and in this case I think I can help him and I can get that invoice paid."

In the end, she softened. "I hope that when I'm 85 and have Alzheimer's, someone like you will decide to help me."

Me too. And if I'm not here and my family needs help, please let someone else step in to help them!

I'm off to see my mum today, and hopefully get some nice quartz rocks. Have a good weekend!


  1. Hello. I'm one of your blog readers from California. I really enjoy reading your blog. I just wanted to commend you for taking the extra time to help that gentleman. I'm sure your kind words and professionalism will make a difference in his life. You should be proud of yourself!

  2. Good for you. That is the course of action I, too, would follow.

  3. With all your experience in customer service, and your life experience, and your talents, I think you are much better at your job than these other people who are telling you how to do it. They don't have the vision. You sound like you are taking steps to make permenant changes in situations so that everyone winds-up better off. I only worry that it's a heavy load for you.

  4. I, too, have just started working in healthcare in the last year or so. I was surprised to see there are two camps for providers. There are those that get things done, and those that are a brick wall. I'm not surprised to see which camp you landed in.

    I raise my coffee mug in salute.

  5. This entry made me cry... Kate you are an angel. If it weren't for people like you I wouldn't be applying for benefits from the VA that my father deserves (and I deserve also for being his caretaker) Thank you....

  6. Thank you anonymous, I hope so!

    Maggs - he's a wonderful old guy.

    kit - It's an emotional job for me, but thankfully I have weekends off!

    breath-e : I was surprised too!

    Andi - I'm so glad things are working out with your dad! *hugs*

  7. the world needs a lot more caring people like you, then it would be such a better place! {hugs}

  8. After reading this post, I cried, too. So many elderly people (and even not so elderly) are scared to death of the recorded voices and don't understand why they cannot talk to a human. You are literally an angel to this gentleman at this point in his life, when his wife is gone and he is so vulnerable. Bless you for making the world a better place, may we all follow your example in whatever situation we find ourselves.

  9. This is the kind of stuff that kept me from being a doctor.

    The stories I could tell you would make you barf.

    do all that you can do...


  10. May we all stay 'new and idealistic' to everything in life, and as you did...soften the 'dead wood' that stay in jobs that no longer excite them...

  11. And that is why I love reading and following your posts.