Dood luck get­ting help at this of­fice

Public Spirit - - OPINION -

Don’t know whether you heard about the clos­ing of the Jenk­in­town 6RFiDO 6HFuUiWy $GPiniVWUDWiRn RI­fiFH this week (Sept. 28). The gov­ern­ment says it will be sav­ing more than $2 mil­lion over the next 10 years by clos­ing WKiV RI­fiFH.

Clearly, cus­tomer con­ve­nience and ser­vice is not part of this equa­tion.

But fear not, old peo­ple, you FDn VWiOO JR WR WKH RI­fiFH in /iP­er­ick (near the nu­clear re­ac­tor) or the one in Nor­ris­town some­place. Both lo­ca­tions are not ex­actly handy for peo­ple in the lld York Road area, es­pe­cially for those with­out cars. There DUH DOVR D FRuSOH RI RI­fiFHV in Philadel­phia if you care to send your el­derly friends or rel­a­tives on a pub­lic trans­porta­tion odyssey. But, wait a minute, where are our lead­ers on this? Why isn’t Con­gress­woman Allyson Schwartz stand­ing up for her con­stituents? Talk about dis­en­fran­chis­ing older peo­ple.

I have had sev­eral oc­ca­sions to visit WKH -HnNinWRwn 6RFiDO 6HFuUiWy RI­fiFH. My 89-year-old fa­ther-in-law lives with us and it took the crack cler­i­cal staff WKHUH DOPRVW WwR yHDUV WR fiJuUH RuW WKDW Vince wasn’t born in 1921, but rather 1923. We took all the re­quired docuPHnWV HDFK WiPH wH YiViWHG WKH RI­fiFH DnG each time we got to take a num­ber (like at the deli) and then wait around while they did a Hekyl and Jekyll rou­tine over who should han­dle his prob­lem. No­body re­ally seemed to want to do it.

Do you know how we solved it? We went to Pen­nDlT and straight­ened it out in one visit, and along the way, told us “that’s the lazi­est bunch of po­lit­i­cal hacks we ever saw, they do this all the time,” re­fer­ring to our pals in Jenk­in­town.

Armed with his new Pen­nDlT-isVuHG ,D WKH wiz­DUGV WKHUH finDOOy WRRN two years off his date of birth. He im­me­di­ately felt younger!

What’s the dif­fer­ence, you ask? Who cares if you are 89 or 91? The dif­fer­ence was that Medi­care was re­ject­ing his bills be­cause his date of birth (we hap­pened to fool­ishly put the cor­rect date on the forms) was the one that didn’t match their date (the wrong one). lne lo­cal phar­ma­cist ad­mit­ted that the dates of birth are of­ten screwed up on older peo­ple’s records and so they, the GUuJ VWRUH, fiOO in WKH GDWH WKDW Medi­care wants to see so that it can get paid. It’s called un­der­stand­ing how a re­ally bad sys­tem works.

Each time I took Pop to WKH 6RFiDO 6HFuUiWy RI­fiFH ,’G know I was in for a long wait. Though there were al­ways a lot of staffers there, I was ob­vi­ously miss­ing the daily lottery where, ap­par­ently, low man (or woman) loses and has to ac­tu­ally work with peo­ple that come in. I never saw so many self-im­por­tant folks wan­der­ing around be­hind en­clo­sures as I did there. Well, maybe I did. The old Ch­est­nut Hill Post lf­fiFH wKHUH ,’G JR wKHn , wRUNHG DW Spring Gar­den Col­lege was equally bad. They’d have 10 work­ers be­hind the counter and one open win­dow. (7KDnNIuOOy WKH $EinJWRn 3RVW 2IfiFH, where I do my daily busi­ness, is a lot more cus­tomer friendly.)

I’d guess that over the two-plus years we were danc­ing around with Cindy’s Dad’s date-of-birth is­sue we vis­ited Jenk­in­town a half dozen times. Now, were this to hap­pen again, we’re look­ing at hour-long trips some­place and do­ing so on the off chance some po­lit­i­cal ap­pointee will ac­tu­ally help us? I don’t like the odds. The sys­tem is broke, some­one nHHGV WR fix iW DnG yRu GRn’W fix iW Ey VKuWWinJ GRwn FRnYHniHnW RI­fiFHV.

And here’s an up­date on my re­cent col­umn about the prob­lems we en­coun­tered at Abing­ton Hospi­tal and how the %ODiU 0iOO 5RDG RI­fiFH: (D.) GiGn’W VHHP WR EH DEOH WR finG D UHIHUUDO (nRW RnFH, but twice) and (b.) the peo­ple we en­coun­tered there treated us as noth­ing more than an in­con­ve­nience.

First of all, the reader re­sponse was stag­ger­ing. Com­ments like, “It’s about time some­one told it like it is,” to, “They needed to hear from the silent ma­jor­ity” and “Thanks for speak­ing uS” fiOOHG Py PDiOERx. 7R EH IDiU, RnH lady did ac­cuse me of be­ing “An­tiAbing­ton Hospi­tal,” and I told her, no, I just have a hard time with stu­pid­ity.

We also heard from sev­eral Abing­ton Hospi­tal big wigs, in­clud­ing Chief of Staff John J. helly MD, all of whom were not at all happy about how pa­tients were be­ing treated and promised to do some­thing about it at once. Dr. .HOOy VDiG: “WH’OO uVH WKiV DV D OHDUn­inJ ex­pe­ri­ence; our pa­tients are more than a name and a num­ber.”

Note to the folks in Hu­man ReVRuUFHV DW $EinJWRn HRVSiWDO: yRu re­ally ought to try hir­ing more qual­i­fiHG SHRSOH, nRW MuVW WKRVH WKDW “NnRw some­body.”

That sit­u­a­tion is of­ten dis­cussed in health­care cir­cles and has lasted far too long (I un­der­stand there is a book in the works).

My wife, who cur­rently works in WKH fiHOG DV D UHFUuiWHU, DnG EHIRUH WKDW an ad­min­is­tra­tor for an­other healthFDUH fiUP, KDV KHDUG WKDW ODPHnW IURP FRunWOHVV wHOO TuDOi­fiHG SHRSOH wKR haven’t even got­ten even a sniff at a job at AMH, not even so much as the cour­tesy of a re­ply to their re­sume, be­cause they didn’t have the proper con­nec­tions.

While all those that vol­un­teer at the hospi­tal do so to help peo­ple – and do a finH MRE – iW’V uVuDOOy WKH RnHV GUDwinJ a pay­check with the “not my job, man” at­ti­tude that are the prob­lem. There’s trou­ble at the big lo­cal hospi­tal and it EDGOy nHHGV fix­inJ.

Ted Tay­lor can be reached at ted@ ted­tay­

Ted Tay­lor

At Large

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