Uncle Dale’s, You Probably Should Know: The Hospital ER Script.

ASLized courtesy of Delawaredeaf.org

Last night there was a town hall meeting at the Deaf Center discussing the failure or refusal of hospitals to give primary consideration to the request of the patient who is Deaf when they ask for a Live In-Person Interpreter and are told they have to use VRI or get nothing at all. I was in the audience and suggested a script for making such a request.

Several people who are Deaf in the town hall asked, “why should we have to go through all that? Shouldn’t they just respect our request?”

Yes, of course they should. But if they did or would there would be no need for this town hall meeting. Hospitals are businesses and as such will not change just because the Deaf community asks. They will only change if they are forced to.

This script will help build a factual basis for future lawsuits which is the only thing hospitals will respond to.

THE SCRIPT

(If you are in too much pain or stress whomever is with you can follow this script for you)

I require a live in-person ASL Interpreter for effective communication.

Let’s use VRI until we can get an interpreter here for you.

VRI is not effective for me because (pick the one that fits):

I am in pain/stress/destress and I can’t follow the three dimensional language of ASL on a two dimensional screen;

I’m not ordering a pizza, I’m trying to get medical care;

The screen is too small;

The picture keeps freezing;

Your staff does not know how to hook it up;

The VRI Interpreters can’t see or hear what is going on off screen and so I miss half the message;

My eye-sight is not good enough to see ASL on a VRI screen; or,

Your reason here.

Please make a note of the reason that VRI is not effective for me in my medical records so that we don’t have to have this discussion every time I come to the hospital.

But it’s after 5/it’s the weekend and there are no live Interpreters available.

That is not true. Interpreter referral agencies are open 24 hours a day 7 days a week. Please make a note of that in my medical record so I don’t have to explain this every time I come to the hospital.

VRI is the same as a live interpreter.

It is not. VRI and Live In-Person Interpreters are listed as separate accommodations under federal law. The Affordable Care Act in Section 1557 says that Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act requires you to give primary consideration to the specific accommodation I request and I request a Live In-Person Interpreter. Please make a note of that in my medical file so I will not have to have this conversation every time I come the hospital.

Well, it could take a long time for the interpreter to get here so let try VRI until then.

I will use VRI until the Live In-Person Interpreter gets here if AND ONLY IF you provide me with the following information:

1. The name of the hospital staff person who requested the interpreter on my behalf;

2. The exact time that staff person called to request the interpreter for me;

3. The name of the agency the hospital staff person called to request an interpreter for me;

4. The name of the specific person the hospital staff person spoke to at that agency to request an interpreter for me; and,

5. The time the agency estimates the interpreter will arrive at this hospital.

Provide that to me in writing and make a note of it in my medical file and I will use VRI until the interpreter arrives.

Why do you need to know all of that?

Because I need to know who has ownership of my request.

We are not allowed to give you that information.

Yes you are. None of it is protected by law. If you refuse to give me the information I request please provide me with the specific law that forbids it and also make a note in my medical record that I requested it and you refused to provide it.

We don’t put things like that in medical records.

You put all kinds of things in medical records and this is my medical record and you will put whatever I tell you to put in it.

There is not an interpreter available.

I will now call the interpreter referral agency that you told me the hospital called and verify the time you called and that there is no interpreter available. If there is in fact no interpreter available I will require you to call a different referral agency. Make a note of my request in my medical records.

We can’t call another agency, we only contract with this one.

Who this hospital does and does not contract with is not my problem. I am the patient and have a right to effective communication and if the hospital cannot provide it with the agency it uses it needs to contract with a different agency. Make a note of that in my medical records.

Do that each and every time.

If they refuse to document it then as soon as possible make a request by email to the hospital’s Office of Customer Service or Risk Management Officer that you made the request I explained above and that your nurse/doctor refused to document it in your record. Use the names of the specific people you spoke to as often as possible.

One last point, and I can’t stress this enough. Never say “I prefer a Live In Person interpreter” or “I don’t want VRI” or “I don’t like VRI.” That says to the hearing people that is just a choice you are making. The magic words are, “I need” or “I require a Live In Person Interpreter for effective communication (that comes right from the law).

Rule 728

We have to accept that we can try and try to help someone make their life better, but we can never overcome that person’s compulsion to make their life worse.

Rule 621

Following a major illness, tragedy or medical procedure, it turns out that, “Up and around” and “Ready for five hours of platform interpreting,” are not the same thing.

Note from Aunt SuperTam: Real Talk with SuperTam

If you did not know it by now reading this blog, I married an incredible and profound person.

Many people have asked me to share the talk my wife gave at my son Harrison’s funeral.

PLEASE DON’T STOP READING! This is an uncomfortable topic, but we need to accept this discomfit because it is literally about life and death.

I am sharing only part of her longer remarks because it is vitally important. You can find the full transcript on my Facebook timeline.

I am happy that it touched so many people and hopefully opened up some much needed dialog on the topics of both mental illness and suicide.

Please remember that these are the words she spoke over my son’s coffin, in a room with about 600 people watching and listening. I say that not only as a kind of trigger warning, and as a way of letting you know the power and strength possible in the human spirit, but also to highlight the sacred nature of her words.

Please share this. Share her full remarks. Share them with people you love or people you just met, but share this message.

Excerpts of remarks given on July 28, 2018, at the funeral of Harrison T Boam by his mother Tammis R Boam.

“…Harrison asked me to say it like it is today. So, we are going to have what I’m calling Real Talk with SuperTam, (because that’s my nickname).

Harrison killed himself. Very few people want to say that. People don’t want to talk about it. People do want to talk about it but they don’t know how. It’s an unbearably painful topic. People keep telling Dale and myself that we are so brave to talk openly about what Harrison did. We never considered any other option. It didn’t feel brave to either one of us, just truthful. When a person dies of heart disease or cancer or pneumonia, we all grieve, but we don’t fear talking about why they died. Mental illness carries a heavy stigma in our society and I believe we share an obligation to have more productive and proactive conversations about a really scary and difficult topic. Mental illness is physical illness. It happens in the brain. Just like MS or Parkinson’s disease; it can be a chemical imbalance, a failure of synapses to connect properly, or an underdeveloped portion of the brain that limits its proper function. It is not different than any other illness. But it is sooo taboo. When the term ‘Mental Illness’ is mentioned, people think in extremes; severe debilitation, psychosis, the inability to work or leave the house, erratic behavior, frightening delusions – scary, scary words, yet mental illness usually doesn’t look like that. It’s depression – from mild to severe, anxiety, ADHD, OCD, Anorexia, Post Partum Depression, Autism Spectrum – it can be an illness or a disorder or a dysfunction. Everyone in this room knows someone who deals with a mental illness every single day. It is often silent and very subversive, and people can feel isolated or hopeless.

Nearly every single person that I talked to, or Dale, or my parents or in-laws or our friends knows someone who has had suicide effect their family. The heartbreaking thing is that suicide is on the rise amongst our youth. Our children are dying and we are afraid to talk about it because it is uncomfortable. It is uncomfortable for me to stand here today and talk about it.

But I am willing to open the conversation. I am willing to answer questions. I will listen to fears and pains, and I will try to offer comfort. I know I’m not the only one willing to do this, but I think one of the problems we collectively suffer from is fear.

Dale and I always try to teach our kids that the devil dwells in darkness and the gospel spreads light. So they should base their decisions on whether or not they have to hide what they do in darkness or if they can do it openly in the light. This is a good foundation for teaching decision-making. However, people often hide in darkness. Not because they are dark themselves, but because they are afraid. We need to learn how to recognize people who are hiding. We must practice seeing what people in pain look like. We need to commit to ourselves that we will be the person. The one who offers succor, in whatever form that takes. We need to ask questions and develop relationships that allow people to open up and be unafraid… The Lord is asking us to be is hands and help his children. We need to seek the one, and we also need to be the one. Be the one who looks. Be the one who asks. Be the one who sees. We have the power to heal.

Our family has been terribly, irrevocably wounded and changed. We are in agony. But we are being ministered to, every second of every day. Because of that, we are already beginning to heal. We have a long road ahead and we accept that, because we do not walk that road alone. The Savior walks that road with us. And so do every single one of you every time you do something that is motivated by love. The road that we walk, the same road you walk, is the path of the gospel. It guides us towards our Father in Heaven…

He did kill himself, but he also died because he suffered from an illness. We do not need to be ashamed of that or hide that fact. Harrison made a choice I wish he had not. He took an action he can’t take back. I know he would if he could. I know he didn’t mean to do this. But we are the ones who are left with the results of his actions. What do we do with that? Do we live within the atonement of Christ? Do we refuse to let fear keep us from speaking when speaking is necessary? Do we reach out, see a person, offer love and provide acceptance? Do we hide in the darkness, or do we shine in the light? I know what Harrison would have us do, and I know what the Lord would have us do.

Harrison, I’ll love you forever, I’ll like you for always, As long as I’m living my baby you’ll be.”

Rule 584

Ah, we meet again, my old nemesis…

Chairs with arms.

My elbows say hello, and they hate you.

Rule 531

Referral Agency: I know you had your first appointment at 5:00 a.m., but we will pay time and a half if you run and swap out an interpreter who had an emergency. It’s for a new night-shift employee’s orientation and shouldn’t be more than a couple of hours.