Friday, December 4, 2009

Yes there IS a Ms. Santa Claus - at the VA no less!

by Leon Liberman, for LifeLube
Read more from Leon.

Sometimes Santa goes under the name of Floretta Strong-Pulley.

Those of us who are aging and unwell don’t allow for change, indifference and neglect when it comes to the health care we require, are eligible for and entitled to.

I had switched health care provider from the one with whom I began treatment to one who offered more services.I had complete confidence in the doctor who treated me at the new facility and was convinced that I had done right by switching I was more relaxed and hopeful than at any time since having been diagnosed.

Well into treatment, I received a letter from the facility telling me that the doctor left to work for a pharmaceutical company and I was given a list of other facility doctors from which to choose one to treat me.

I thought that I should have been told by my doctor that he was abandoning me for a seemingly more lucrative position since he knew of how much I depended on him and he should have referred me to another facility and a doctor one -  who would best treat me. Fortunately, the pharmacy I use is in the facility. I consulted the pharmacist, an AIDS Legal Council of Chicago Advocate of the Year Award recipient, who knows all of the facility doctors and he not only recommended the one who should treat me but also made an appointment for me to see him.

I have been dependent upon Illinois Public Aid for my Medicare B payment and supplemental medical and hospital costs.  It has been a frustrating and even humiliating experience that I am not deserving of.  Fortunately, Ann Fisher, Executive Director of AIDS Legal Council of Chicago, has intervened on my behalf with Public Aid on several occasions to resolve and correct them myself but was helpless in dealing with a case worker and her supervisors who did not return telephone calls or answer pleading letters.

Just when I thought that that’s the way it’s always going to be, I read in a newspaper about a VA Benefits Fair at the Jesse Brown VA Medical Center in Chicago. Being a Korean War veteran, I went to see if I might be able to profit from it.

I was told that it was only available to those registered for treatment at the Jesse Brown facility, which surprised me. I asked where I could register and a woman who overheard me said that she would take me to the registration department.  She was Floretta Strong-Pulley, Minority Veterans Program Coordinator, Jesse Brown VA Medical Center, and I bless the day that I met her.

I tried to register but didn’t have the proof of service information with me so could not complete the registration forms. I returned the forms to the clerk with an explanation as to why I was unable to complete them.  Floretta again overheard me and took me to another clerk to whom I gave my name, birthdate, and social security number which she then fed into a computer that promptly printed my service record with which I was immediately registered.

Floretta then walked me back to the fair and asked me to call her if there was anything more that she could do for me.  I was convinced that she walked on water.

I received a letter of eligibility for medial and hospital care from the VA and called Floretta to tell her that I had. She asked me to return so that she could arrange for an appointment for me with a doctor who would determine the care I needed and arrange for me to get it.

It doesn’t end there.

After that was done, I told Floretta that I was interested in any other VA benefit that I might be eligible for and would look into it.  She insisted upon walking me over to the nearby VA Headquarters where she arranged for me to immediately see someone who could help me with my inquiry. 

I have nothing but praise for this uniquely caring woman who obviously does much more than she has an obligation to do, and I want as many people as possible to know of her and what she has done for me.  Floretta more than makes up for provider and Public Aid indifference and neglect.  She epitomizes what it means to be a true professional.

I’m looking forward to my initial  Jesse Brown appointment.


[Sometimes Santa goes under the name of Floretta Strong-Pulley.]

Heartfelt thanks, Floretta! You’re the best Christmas gift I could receive.

1 comment:

  1. This was a very inspiring piece that reminded me that part of being healthy is tenacity, luck and the support of other people.
    Honoring Floretta is a way of honoring the best of what is possible in all of us.

    Happy Holidays


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