Memo to Survivors & Providers: Shine the Light!

If I have learned one thing I have learned that the New York State Department of Health hates publicity. They hate it when their actions are brought into the light of day. And so, given their reluctance to change their clearly punitive behavior towards brain injury survivors, their loved ones and, not incidentally, those who provide services to same across the state, I am urging all of the aforementioned to openly share their stories. Don’t embellish and certainly don’t lie. Simply state the facts of the matter as you honestly know them. The facts speak for themselves.

In yesterday’s Fair Hearing it was crystal clear that the DOH, represented by RRDSs from the Capitol Region, were looking for any excuse to deny my request for white noise machines and a life alert (see preceding blog post). Not only was the tone of their stance, voiced primarily by RRDS Maria Relyea, venomous, it was rooted in a willingness to change the rules at a moment’s notice simply to wound the survivor, in this case me.

Across the state the DOH is looking to jettison people off the traumatic brain injury waiver or, if not that, cutting their services so drastically life becomes even harder for the survivors. I can tell you that living life with a brain injury is not so easy a task in the best of circumstances.

A DOH Trap for Providers

The DOH has also set what might be called a trap for providers. If they don’t tell the provider outright they can’t support their client at a Fair Hearing, they’ll tighten the purse strings by telling the provider if they do appear at the Fair Hearing on behalf of the participant they won’t get paid. A nasty form of manipulation. What’s the trap? Some providers are playing the you need to subpoena us to appear with the participant card. If they are subpoenaed they’re paid, and they should be. However, by playing hat card they walk full length into the DOH’s penchant for accusing providers of being in it for the money. So while the urge to play the subpoena card is understandable, strategically it is a blunder, albeit an understandable one.

Shine the Light

What providers and all others should do when encountering this behavior is  publicize it. Let local, state and national media know. Start a blog, start a web page, or post it on the web page you have. It’s okay to be afraid but don’t let it scare you.

Whatever your political walk of life, there can be no arguing that President Obama was right when he said, “Sunlight is the best disinfectant.”  And if there is anything the behavior of the DOH needs when it comes to the facts just mentioned, it’s a hefty dose of disinfectant.

Shine the light.


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