Friends, please vote for @LedgeLightHD’s #WeAreOneVoice video so we can win $10K & improve heart women’s heart health. TY
Friends, please vote for @LedgeLightHD’s #WeAreOneVoice video so we can win $10K & improve heart women’s heart health. TY
Latest guest blog for the @CTHealthCenters (Community Health Center Association of CT) —->
My World AIDS Day Post on @HealthJusticeCT ——–>
My Post on @HealthJusticeCT re: National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day 2013 ——->
I’m going to tell you a story.
It is my hope that by the time I finish with this posting it will sound less like someone who’s completely frustrated/disappointed with an absolutely tremendous level of incompetence and extreme lack of consideration—and more like (1) encouragement to readers who may not have been comfortable speaking up for themselves; and (2) a Call to Action of sorts- to those of us to are interested in JUSTICE.
Nearly three weeks ago I contacted the New London CVS in an attempt to get my youngest daughter’s Claritin prescription renewed/refilled. As many of us know, Claritin is now available over-the-counter, and in order for insurance to cover it, one needs a preauthorization. So I contacted her doctor’s office, after a brief conversation with a representative at the NEW LONDON CVS PHARMACY. Two days later I called the NEW LONDON CVS PHARMACY to see if they’d received the preauthorization. They mentioned they’d not yet received it and that I should contact the doctor’s office again—so I did. The doctor’s office said that sometimes it takes 48+ hours for it to go through and to try again a couple days later. And so I did—the NEW LONDON CVS PHARMACY informed me that they still had not received the authorization from the doctor’s office and that they would fax over “another request” to the doctor.
Sidebar- I’m pretty sure they could hear the frustration in my tone. It was very difficult for me to understand the disconnect between these two entities that are physically less than one mile apart. Part II of this sidebar is that I have HUSKY insurance for my daughter. And please make no assumptions- I’m not by any means suggesting that anything is wrong with HUSKY insurance, other than how people with it are sometimes treated like they unworthy of respect.
Back to the story:
In week two of this experience with the NEW LONDON CVS PHARMACY, I contacted them AGAIN to find out that they’d still not received the fax from my daughter’s doctor. At this point I’d lost my patience, but I remained calm but FIRM in my tone and my intent to get this taken care of expeditiously. I hung up exasperated but determined to make sure my daughter got her medicine. I called the doctor’s office again and they assured me that it had already been taken care of and to give it a couple days to post in the insurance company’s “system.” I thanked the person I was speaking with and assured them that I’d been calling for several days and only wanted some resolution.
I figured that it might be in my best interests to wait a few days—perhaps if they didn’t hear from me for a few days straight the situation would be settled by my next call. EPIC FAIL. Here’s what happened—not one dern thing.
Follow-up calls up until this past Thursday, June 8th produced no change. The NEW LONDON CVS PHARMACY informed me that they’d sent several forms to the doctor’s office with no results. I’d finally had enough.
The next day, Friday, June 9th I took my daughter to her doctor’s office for a follow-up appointment for her allergies and asthma. We were in the waiting area for 35 minutes—that was loads of fun (sarcasm). After checking my daughter’s weight, blood pressure and temperature, the Medical Assistant informed us that the doctor would be in with us as soon as possible. And by as soon as possible I mean 40 minutes. And so I said we’d have to reschedule the appointment because of a conflict.
We passed the doctor in the hallway who apologized and asked if we needed anything. I told her we’d planned to reschedule the appointment , but I really wanted this issue about the preauthorization for her Claritin to be resolved. She looked something up on her little laptop and said- wait a minute, that’s BEEN taken care of. My response… wait, WHAT? So I decided that I’d just go about the plans for a weekend of church and then address it as soon as possible, Monday morning.
Fast forward to this morning (Monday, June 11th) and a telephone call to my daughter’s doctor’s office. The representative I spoke with told me that the preauthorization had actually gone through on the 1st of June…
My response… wait, WHAT?
I told her that I was going to need her to confirm that date after several telephone calls. She confirmed that the preauthorization actually DID go through on the 1st. Nooooooooooooooooooow I’m angry… like steam coming outta my ears angry, making it a perfect time for me to make contact with the NEW LONDON CVS PHARMACY.
So I give my name, my daughter’s name & date of birth and as I begin to explain the issue he puts me on hold to check the bin of filled prescriptions. Before I could interrupt his course of action by explaining that I was calling about something different, I’m on hold for a few seconds… and then—surprise- nothing in the bin for my baby.
So I said… sir, maybe you could just hear me out before putting me on hold… whadda ya think? I was calling about a Claritin prescription for my daughter and this was the beginning of the 3rd week of phone calls for me.
He checked the computer and said oh, well this prescription is available over-the-counter and in order for the insurance to cover it a preauthorization is required.
So here’s how the remainder of the conversation went:
Me: Yeeeeeeeeeeeeeah, I know a preauthorization is required, which is why I’m calling you. Earlier today…
Him: Well, you probably need to contact the doctor’s office.
Me: Actually it would be awesome if you’d allow me to finish so we’re not on the phone all damn day… mmmkay? I’ve been speaking to the doctor’s office and various people in your pharmacy for the past two weeks. Right before I called you I spoke with my daughter’s doctor’s office who assured me that not only had the authorization gone through, but it happened 10 days ago. So it’s all set and what I need to know from you is WHEN can I pick up my daughter’s prescription?
Him: Hold on please. Oh yes- I see it now, when do you want to pick it up.
Me: wait, WHAT?
Him: I don’t understand.
Me: Did you just say you “see it now?” What does that mean? And 3PM today. Now- back to my question.
Him: Well, once you told me that you spoke to someone in the doctor’s office, I checked the insurance and saw that it had been approved.
Me: So wait- did you NOT do that at the beginning of our conversation?
Him: No, I saw on the profile that a preauthorization was needed and so that’s why I said that to you. But when you said you spoke to someone I checked.
Me: So now I’m confused—why did you not check that prior to giving me incorrect information?
Him: [yeah- you should know that he pretty much repeated his most recent statement K]
Me: So, let me get this straight… armed only with my statement that I’d spoken to someone, you thought it would be a good idea to check the insurance? I guess I’m curious about why you didn’t just do that to begin with. I mean- I’m counting on you to give me the most accurate information and you CHOSE not to dig any deeper.
Him: well, like I told you, I saw the profile and I…
Me: sir, let’s stop this. I’ll be by at 3 this afternoon to pick up her medicine. By the way- what’s the name of the person in charge of the pharmacy there at CVS… and so you know, I’m asking because your excuse for poor service is unacceptable and I plan to share that.
Him: Her name is Liz.
Me: (chuckle) really? Liz WHAT? [I got her name] Okay perfect, thank you.
So, perhaps I was just slightly harsh… but seriously- the NEW LONDON CVS PHARMACY earned it.
And then I got to thinking:
- What if I hadn’t contacted my daughter’s office prior to calling the NEW LONDON CVS PHARMACY today… what if I’d never shared that with him?
- Would I still be waiting for the script to be filled? I’m flat-out accusing the NEW LONDON CVS PHARMACY of not following through because of the HUSKY insurance. Is this standard practice at the NEW LONDON CVS PHARMACY? Is it also a company-wide policy?
- What about members of the commUNITY who may be uncomfortable asking questions because of literacy levels, language barriers and/or issues with mistreatment based on insurance? How could we get the message to them that it’s okay to ask questions of the “professionals?”
- Could someone else who had a similar experience with the NEW LONDON CVS PHARMACY have given up and not pursued the matter? If so, what impact did that have on their health or their child’s health?
You’ll probably find this next part amusing—when I picked the script up the lady at the window said, “hmmm it looks like a preauthorization is needed.” I said oh no ma’am I spoke to a gentleman this morning and assured him that it had been sent already. She said, “oh sorry—I’m just reading the notes. I asked- are you trying to tell me that I actually cannot pick up her prescription right now?
So I totally did get it with no further problem… but hadn’t I dealt with enough?
Needless to say I’m going to write a letter to the manager of the pharmacy AND I’m going to send a copy to corporate headquarters. I also intend to have all of my prescriptions transferred from the NEW LONDON CVS PHARMACY to a different pharmacy.
More than anything, though, in the context of health outcomes and healthCARE disparities, my main concern is that somewhere there are people who will not question the runarounds they’re subjected to and end up sick or worse.
I wonder if anyone else is prepared to call providers/companies out for their craptacular service… and I hope this post is read by someone who decides not to allow themselves to be mistreated ever again.
That’s all I have to say on this subject now.
If you’ve read this entire post, you’re awesome. Thank you… please feel free to add a comment.
On Saturday, April 21, 2012 The African-American Health Council of Southeastern CT (AAHC) and Ledge Light Health District (www.ledgelighthd.org) hosted a Minority Health Summit. Local and state public health professionals and practitioners joined community-based and faith-based organizations and other interested community members for the summit.
The African-American Health Council of Southeastern Connecticut (AAHC) was established in 2007, initially to serve as an advisory body for Ledge Light Health District’s Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention for Connecticut’s Black Residents program, funded by the State of Connecticut Department of Public Health.
The AAHC is a culturally diverse, multidisciplinary, community-based coalition whose vision is a healthier Black community. AAHC membership includes community stakeholders representing local hospitals and medical providers, human service agencies, emergency response teams, businesses, civic organizations, the faith community, educators, healthcare professionals, and concerned citizens. With the goal of securing and sustaining a continuously improving state of health and wellness for communities of color in southeastern Connecticut, the AAHC is a dynamic group also focused on reducing health disparities by examining the social determinants of health and addressing health inequities among communities of color in Southeastern Connecticut.
Goals of the Minority Health Summit include:
- Expose attendees to health and healthcare issues impacting minority populations in Southeastern Connecticut and increase their knowledge and awareness of these issues;
- Review local health data to discuss strategies for mobilizing individuals and organizations for action (action = being active in establishing a continuum of optimal community health);
- Provide opportunities for networking and learning from others; and
- Celebrate five years of Accomplishments of the AAHC.
In his greetings, Director of Health Baker Salsbury said, “The AAHC is crucial because we need an informed discussion leading to informed negotiations… we are in a negotiation at the Federal, State and Local level about what constitutes health equity. We are not in agreement—that’s extraordinary. These negotiations are tough… and it’s the AAHC and groups like it that lend focus, intelligence and dignity to the struggle for negotiations for public health; and in so-doing, they lend on of the highest causes that all of us contribute our life to—and that’s to insert prevention into the economic and political processes of our society.”
In his keynote address, Rev. Kenn Harris, Co-Chair of the African-American Health Council described the Council’s focus, stating, “The work of the AAHC has been to address and to eradicate health disparities and increase the opportunity for African-Americans to enjoy the highest quality of life in the communities where they live, learn, work, play and pray.”
Breakout session conversations were lively and engaging. Many participants stated in their evaluations that 50 minutes was “too short” for the sessions. The topics were:
- Building Leaders on the Front Line (facilitated by Betty Murray, CT Cancer Partnership & Hartford Hospital www.ctcancerpartnership.org)
- Using Social Networking to Create Healthier Communities (facilitated by Heang Tan, HealthJusticeCT www.healthjusticect.org)
- Communicating: Cross-Cultural Encounters (facilitated by Nadesha Mijoba, Mijoba Communications/Provenance Center www.provenancecenter.com)
- Shifting the Focus to Policy Changes (facilitated by Elizabeth Krause, CT Health Foundation www.cthealth.org)
- Connecting Faith-based Leadership & Healthy Communities (facilitated by Rev. Kenn Harris, Co-Chair AAHC and Project Director, New Haven Healthy Start
Soooooooooooooo… NOW WHAT?
Now the feedback and notes from the breakout sessions are used to begin the STRATEGIC PLANNING process for the AAHC. The vision and mission will be examined and perhaps modified. Will the AAHC rebrand? Who knows? What we DO know it this… despite a recent report citing Connecticut as one of the healthiest states (
), disparities in health outcomes remain… and not just in the larger urban areas like the one mentioned in that article.
I got kind of upset when I read that article… because for me it meant that the resources that could/should have been allocated to our state to address & eliminate health disparities AND inequities would be redirected to some other state that demonstrated more of a need.
If you need proof of racial and ethnic health disparities in the 3rd healthiest state in the nation, I’m sure the data is available for a multitude of sources– hospitals, public health departments, social service agencies, etc. The AAHC is putting together a report on data collected from a survey from 2010-2011 (should be ready in a few weeks). This report will be one of many that put southeastern Connecticut on the map when it comes to disparate health outcomes.
In a separate blog, I plan to be very specific about some data in our neck of the woods… stay tuned for that (hint some good, some bad, some UGLY).
What can you do?
- Become active in your commUNITY’s efforts to be healthier.
- Participate in all planning efforts in your commUNITY (City Council, Planning & Zoning, Education, Housing, etc.) to make sure the health of your commUNITY is considered at these important tables
- Assist in planning and implementation of policies to keep your commUNITY healthy.
- Support/promote commUNITY initiatives and programs that contribute to the overall health of your commUNITY
Bottom line is you need to get involved. It’s likely in the next blog where I discuss some local data, I’ll also discuss how WE, individually and collectively, can make a difference. Okay… this is all for this entry. Beware- I will be spending even more time on my soapbox in the next post.
That is all.
So it’s April and there are many health-related observances, but for this blog I’m gonna focus on STD Awareness Month…
Here I sit, waiting for an enormous CDC (Centers 4 Disease Control & Prevention) file to load so I can hit you with some statistics, it dawns on me… who cares what the report says? I mean really… we can predict what it says, right? People are still becoming infected with a laundry list of STDs, and if we’re going to address the disparities, then it’s likely that people of color account for the bulk of STDs. Right? Okay… I’m gonna go check the report. G’on and grab some coffee while I take a break and run thru the stats.
::queue some music of your choice::
Okay wow really, that report was too dern long to sift through… I almost went cross-eyed (okay, I didn’t REALLY go cross-eyed, but I DID get a headache), but you can totally check it out here:
. Bottom line- the numbers suck.
And I also went to the Connecticut Department of Public Health’s (DPH) site to check out STD stats in my state. Sooooo, like most sites, the data is a lil older than I would like (I’m really curious as to WHY the data is always 2 or more yeas out- I just don’t get it), but what’re ya gonna do?
I took a look at Chlamydia and Gonorrhea rates in our lovely state. And always one to look at not only the numbers, but also the disparity in the numbers, I thought it would be interesting to look at these rates across race/ethnicities. Again- anyone familiar with any health outcomes across populations can easily predict what the report was going to say. Still, though I just wasn’t really prepared for the comparisons I found in Chlamydia Cases between ages/races (2009):
& in Gonorrhea rates between ages/races (2009):
Did you see that? No? Okay- stop and go back to those links, comparing White, Black & Hispanic numbers across the board.
should be like your 1st reaction. It was mine. If those numbers don’t bother you, you probably should stop reading here, ijs. Just click the little X up there in the right-hand corner and have a nice day.
Beautiful people, we are talking about PREVENTABLE diseases here. You do not HAVE TO get these and other assorted STDs. Like HIV (I’ll dedicate many future posts to this subject), there is NO LOOK to people who are walking around with these diseases. Stop taking chances with your health and with your life. If you’re going to be having sex, then make sure you’re not one of those counted in these statistical charts. PRACTICE SAFER SEX MEASURES EVERY TIME. That means using a condom (properly) for each new sex act. Seriously- BE PREPARED. Don’t assume that your partner(s) will have condoms on hand- YOU have them with YOU. YOUR HEALTH is YOUR RESPONSIBILITY. #TrueStory
And to my beautiful young people, if this topic is making you uncomfortable, if the thought of talking with your partner(s) about being safe or getting tested is something you find silly or pointless, trust it- you’re NOT READY to be having sex right now. #TrueStory.
If you have questions about sex, sexuality, STDs… WHATEVA and don’t want to talk to your parents about it, please find an adult you trust (who will hopefully be able to give you the correct information or at least POINT YOU to someone who can). Don’t count on your friends- trust me- they’re NOT the experts they’d like to think they are.
Parents: we should be our kids’ 1st line of defense when it comes to STDs… I don’t mean that you suit up and get ready to “tackle” the kids if they come to you with questions, but it is in our children’s best interests to openly answer questions about sex/sexuality. IF YOU ARE NOT COMFORTABLE/EQUIPPED TO HAVE THESE CONVERSATIONS WITH YOUR YOUNG PEOPLE, please kindly refer them to their physicians or health educators at Planned Parenthood (
) or the nurses at the school-based health centers if the kids are still in school. Bottom line is we need to make sure our young people are getting ACCURATE information. And quit trying to act like if the school-based health centers are able to give out condoms and scripts for birth control that the kids are going to start having sex.
::clears throat & reaches for megaphone:: THEY ARRRRRRRRRRRRE HAVING SEX. If you’re uninterested in being a grandparent too early and/or having your child be infected/treated for STDs, then shuddup and let em get their condoms & pills/shots.
By the way- parents… if you check out the numbers in those slides from the DPH earlier, you’ll see that it’s not just the young folk who are having unprotected sex and infecting one another. Errrrr- let’s get it TOGETHER yall.
Sexuality needs to be discussed in the churches too. YUP- I said it. Now, I’m not sure if the pastor in Ohio who recently had a bed & hot pink stripper pole in the pulpit is the way to go for everyone (no, true story… here’s the link:
), but don’t NOT talk about it. Your church family, young AND old, are having sex. And for crying out loud, if your ministry has many single mothers, please skip the abstinence conversation, okay?
Collectively, let’s be wise and do what we can to avoid being counted in the number of those who have tested positive for STDs. Here’s how: (1) practice safer sex EVERY TIME you have sex; (2) GET TESTED and if you test positive, (3) get treatment. Also, talk to your partner(s), family members and friends about being SAFE, about loving SAFELY and join conversations that promote HEALTHIER communities.
I think that’s all for now. No wait… ::queue photo of dancing condom::
Okay yeah, now I think I’m finished.