NC Hospital Worker Appeals to Rep Manning for Medicare for All

Our dysfunctional for-profit health care system overburdens and stresses health care workers to the point of moral injury. We must end the needless suffering our current system causes and implement a national, single-payer health care program.

Congresswoman Kathy Manning, please listen to your constituent and sign on to #MedicareforAll, HR 1976. If you live in District 6 (GSO and surrounding areas), please call Rep Manning to express your support for #M4A: 202-225-3065



Gross Medical Failures at Eastern Correctional: Voice from the Inside

Listening to Kourtney Reed's story, we hear how the carceral system is inflicting unnecessary suffering that harms individuals and, ultimately, society as a whole. Kourtney's mental health needs were neglected for months at Eastern Correctional, then, he was over-medicated, which resulted in him losing consciousness- twice (see his letter below with more details). The inhumane treatment of incarcerated people who need medical or mental health care is rooted in systemic racism and is worsening racial health inequities. Is the purpose of incarceration to "correct" and rehabilitate? Or is it to inflict upon incarcerated folks so much emotional and physical distress as to cause long-lasting health effects and hinder their reintegration into society?

Demands

In consultation with NCM4A Coalition Partner Fayetteville PACT and Kourtney Reed's mother Lacy Reed, we are asking people to contact the warden of Eastern Correctional to demand that
  • Established standards of care are followed when prescribing medication (including proper titration and follow-up to detect any negative side-effects, and avoiding over-medication)
  • Incarcerated folks have timely access to mental health services.
  • Mailing Address: Box 215, Maury, NC 28554; Phone: 252-747-8101

Overview of Kourtney Reed's situation, from interview with Mr. Reed’s mother Lacy Reed, 2/10/2021

  • Kourtney has been incarcerated for 8 years. His mother said he did not have symptoms of mental disorder before being incarcerated.
  • Kourtney has said he is hearing voices and that these symptoms started after a range of pharmaceuticals were prescribed to him by medical staff starting in late October 2020.
  • Per Ms. Reed, an ECI staff member has said Kourtney “sounds like a broken record,” describing Kourtney’s attempts to get his worsening symptoms addressed.
  • A neurological test scheduled for Kourtney was pushed from February to April 2021.
  • Kourtney also is taking medication to control high blood pressure now, per his mother. He did not have high blood pressure before going to ECI.
  • Kourtney is struggling with suicidal thoughts due to what he’s suffered the past few months.
  • It took more than 2 months for ECI to prescribe medication to Kourtney after he first started experiencing strong symptoms of anxiety, and another three months (total of 5 months) for a therapist to see him.
  • While experiencing acute mental distress, Kourtney was placed in solitarity confinement at Central Prison in Raleigh for 14 days in January after being temporarily transferred there from ECI. He was transferred there for the stated purpose of receiving mental health care, and was unaware that it would require a two-week period of solitary quarantine, even though he had tested negative for coronavirus before departing ECI.
  • Before Kourtney left Central Prison on the 27 of January, he was given Tegretol, which is an anticonvulsant drug, Zyprexa, which is an antipsychotic drug, and Risperdone, which is also an antipsychotic. They gave those at the same time, per his mother. His mom thinks he may have been given as many as 8 different drugs since October.
  • Evidence was excluded from Kourtney’s case that could have impacted his conviction and sentencing, per his mother Ms. Reed.

Type-out of letter by Kourtney Reed

Mr. Reed is incarcerated at Eastern Correctional Institution in Snow Hill, NC. This letter, dated January 18, 2021, he wrote while temporarily transferred to Central Prison in Raleigh:

Between the months of August to October 2020, I complained to Mental Health Staff at Eastern Correctional that I was experiencing extreme bouts of anxiety, including panic attacks. These experiences continued throughout the month of October when PA (physician assistant) Emler, on the 21 of October, prescribed what was supposed to be a solution for anxiety.

Instead, assuming there were deeper issues besides anxiety, Emler prescribed additional drugs along with the anxiety meds. 

These meds included the following:

  • Lexapro
  • Buspar
  • Hydroxyzine

She prescribed these drugs without alerting me [of the potential side effects], and on the 29th of October, I experienced loss of consciousness at or around 6:15pm, after which custody staff of Eastern Correctional rushed me to medical.

Upon arrival at Eastern Correctional Medical Station, nurses refused to treat me adequately because of a bias and unprofessional “assumption” that I was faking an illness or had consumed an intoxicant such as K2. I affirm neither are true. A properly conducted urinalyses could have confirmed I hadn’t consumed any intoxicants/narcotics, however medical staff at E. Correctional failed to apply this method and wheeled me in a wheelchair back to my housing block.

I wrote grievances on Oct. 29 - Nov 30 that I was having allergic reactions to the prescribed meds. On Oct. 30 is when the condition became worse. I began having body and muscle spasms, rapid heart rate, hallucinations, high blood pressure, moments of confusion and memory loss. More loss of consciousness led me to Lenoir Hospital with Officer Corey and another (name unknown) on the 3rd of November.

While admitted to Lenoir Hospital, the doctor barely acknowledged my condition because of my incarceration. Without conducting any lab work or CT scans, the doctor discharged me. The doctor was so negligent in his duties that Officer Corey had to beg for a urinalysis, which resulted negative for any traces of narcotics, which indicates that the conditions I’m suffering are not narcotic-induced but an effect of the meds prescribed to me by PA Emler..

Read more

Lurika's Story: Uninsured with Chronic Pain, Unable to Afford Meds or Surgery.

"I'm only 48 years old, I should still be doing a lot. But everyday I'm writhing in pain. Why? Because my medication is still sitting at the pharmacy." Lurika Wynn of National Domestic Workers Alliance, We Dream in Black at the NCM4A Human Rights Day Press Conference in Raleigh, 12/10/2020

SIGN ON: www.ncm4a.org/m4a2021

#MedicareforAll #M4A #NCM4A


Amelia explains why she's burning her medical bills with #NCBillBurn

Amelia's burning her medical bills for #NCBillBurn, knowing next month the treatments keeping her alive will be even more unaffordable when she loses her health coverage on her 26th birthday. The ACA isn't enough!

Join us in-person or from your home Dec 12 for the #NCBillBurn event: http://www.ncm4a.org/bill_burn_bonfire

Learn more about our Dec 10 Human Rights Day emergency press event: https://www.ncm4a.org/emergency_human_rights_day_press


Dr. Miah: Patients Suffer Without Universal, Equitable Access

Listen to Dr. Rohima Miah's testimony as a practicing psychiatrist on the benefits of Improved and Expanded Medicare for All and how it will help address the inequities in our current system.

Why do we need Expanded and Improved Medicare for All now?

The US health care system is the most expensive in the world and is failing its patients and our country.

Despite the cost, the US has some of the worst health outcomes (life expectancy, infant and maternal mortality) of any industrialized nation in the world. - Currently, eligibility for insurance coverage will be taken away if one is unable to pay premiums due to illness, disability or unemployment.

Even under the Affordable Care Act, nearly 30 million are uninsured and 44 million are underinsured, meaning that while they have health insurance, their high deductibles and other out-of-pocket costs impede their getting the care they need.

Core pillars of the NC Medicare for All Coalition

We recognize that Expanded and Improved Medicare for All is needed to achieve equitable health care access for all residents of the US.

We will support strategic and coordinated actions across organizations within our state to achieve this policy change at the federal level.

We recognize that Expanded and Improved Medicare for All is a critical step towards achieving equity and justice throughout all areas of our society, addressing the long standing discriminatory systems that create less access for African American, Latinx and other communities of color, LGBTQ peoples, and those with low income.

How do I join? 

Send an email to [email protected] to be added to the email list and receive information about our next meeting.

Visit www.ncm4a.org/form and fill out a brief survey to join a working group. We hope you'll join us in our campaign to achieve universal health care for all!


Megan: Our Current System Fails Patients, Including Children

As a pediatric nurse in an ambulatory setting, I spend much of my time fighting to help my patients to get insurance coverage for the medications, medical equipment, supplies, and therapies that they need. I have learned to submit prior authorizations, requests for gap exceptions, and appeals for the denial of covered services. It sickens me how difficult it is for parents to get their children the care they need. My clinic is located in an affluent area, yet so many families struggle because they are uninsured or underinsured.

I'm tired of watching our health care system fail my patients and loved ones. In 2010, when I was treated for a medical emergency while studying abroad in Spain, I first encountered universal healthcare. I was treated without delay, at no cost. In 2011, I began working towards becoming a International Board Certified Lactation Consultant. Through my coursework for this international certification, I became aware that the health care systems of many other industrialized nations support the health and well-being of their citizens so much better than the health care system of the United States.

Per capita health care costs are also much lower in these other countries, while the high cost of care in our country drives many families to start Go-Fund-Me campaigns in an effort to finance care, or simply not get the needed care. When my daughter was born in 2015, I worked part-time and was insured by my husband's employee sponsored medical plan, but the premium doubled in 2016, so we purchased insurance for my daughter and me through the health insurance marketplace. We were only able to afford those premiums for a few months, so I returned to work full-time the following year.


I was introduced to the idea of Medicare for All in 2016, around the same time I realized that the health care coverage I had thanks to Obama's Affordable Care Act wasn't serving my family well enough. Since 2016, the voices of organizations that have long called for universal health care have amplified, and the inadequacies of our current health care system have been been brought to light by the COVID-19 pandemic. I became active in National Nurses United's public facing campaign for Medicare for All this summer, and I led legislative visits with US House Candidate Cynthia Wallace and U.S. Representative Dan Bishop's office to discuss the need for Medicare for All.


I will continue to fight for health care justice - for my family, my patients, and for all people.


Megan: A Cancer Diagnosis Shouldn't Mean Financial Strain

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My mom became our family's main breadwinner and insurance carrier in 2001. Two years ago this summer, my mom was diagnosed with a recurrence of the breast cancer she originally developed when I was four years old. In 1992, she underwent a bilateral mastectomy. After about five years cancer-free, her health insurance stopped covering visits to the oncologist, and her primary physician stopped ordering routine imaging a few years later.

When my mom was diagnosed with stage IV cancer in 2018, my family was devastated. My mom has a huge tumor in her chest, and the cancer is too advanced for radiation or surgical removal. Oral chemotherapy was prescribed to hopefully slow the spread of the cancer and prolong her life a few years. My parents felt immense grief and anger at the loss of the retirement that they had dreamed of and their hopes for the future.
 
In the wake of the diagnosis, my family operated in crisis mode for about one year as we learned to navigate the cancer journey alongside my mom. That year was a total blur and mess of emotions, and now the cancer experience has become our new normal. What has been more painful for me than the idea of losing my mother and witnessing my father's grief has been witnessing the injustice and cruelty of our nation's health care system. For months after my mom's diagnosis, nearly every surface in my parents' kitchen, dining room, and living room was covered with medical bills and financial documents. My mom's health insurance was tied to her employment and she was still a few years away from qualifying for Medicare.

When working full-time became too much, she went on disability, and now that disability has run out, she pays a high monthly premium for Cobra coverage. My mom's biggest concern at this point is that when she turns 65 next spring and applies for Medicare, her cancer treatment costs may not be covered if the provision in Obamacare that requires insurance companies to provide coverage for preexisting medical conditions is repealed. Her oral chemotherapy costs $12,0000 per month.

Watching my parents struggle with anxiety over finances, health care costs, insurance coverage, and fear of bankruptcy as my mother fights for her life against cancer has motivated me to join the fight to end the inhumane and unaffordable system of health care in the United States. In the midst of sadness, I am learning from my mother what bravery and strength look like, and how to keep on living with purpose in the midst of pain and sorrow.

Madi: HS Senior Draws on Personal Experience in Fight to Expand Mental Health Services

Three years ago, I was a high school freshman and I was holding on to this world for dear life, because parts of me didn't want one anymore. A year later I realized that I need some help and two years later I came to terms with myself to accept and welcome the help into my life. 

The journey of accepting that you need help, welcoming that in your life, and allowing yourself to grow for the good of your wellbeing is definitely not easy by any means. When I decided I wanted to help myself, I also decided that I wanted to help others as well. I wanted to help others who have experienced such situations similar to mine.

I started small by advocating in my school for better mental health resources for students and staff such as: yoga, a therapy dog, lessons on how to better manage our mental health, mindfulness classes, and meditations. I advocated for the need for less stress on students when it came to classes and better accommodations within the school to help those who need access to mental health flexibilities such as: late work, more time on exams, and mental health days.

Once I got myself started in school, I began advocating throughout my county. I joined my county's Human Rights Student Leadership Council on behalf of my school and community with the goal to advocate for better mental health equality and equity in the school system and the community. In addition, I spoke at the Human Rights Commissions Board meeting to continue to carry out that goal.

I decided to join the Poor People's Campaign of North Carolina while focusing on health equality and equity because of how I have seen those who are economically challenged oftentimes not be able to afford the health care they need. For instance, many teens in our community struggle with underlying mental health conditions, but treatment for these conditions are expensive and oftentimes most families can not afford the necessary and appropriate treatments.

After seeing too many teens suffer, and sometimes even take their own life, I decided that I must be an advocate for not only mental health and disabilities, but also for health care equality, equity, and rights. Healthcare is a human right, not a privilege. It should be available to all, not just those who have the economic privilege to have it available to them.

I have continued my work in advocacy through an instagram and a blog with a focus on mental health and disability rights, equality, and equity.(@madi.paige.graham)


Amelia: Surviving-and thriving-after life-changing surgery, she faces being uninsured on her 26th birthday.

As I navigate adulthood, I find many opportunities for celebration. Graduating college, surviving a pandemic and second economic collapse, growing my first garden, moving in with my partner, pushing through therapy, and even baking the perfect loaf of bread. But one thing I’ll always be proud of myself for is simply making it this far. There were times when I couldn’t imagine what 

it would be like to take a walk around the neighborhood, to go on an incident-free trip to the beach, to make it through a full night’s sleep, to go to school without pain and embarrassment, to get close enough to someone to fall in love. 

I’ve lived with IBD all my life, having been misdiagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis at age five and enduring a subsequent decade of invasive tests, exploratory procedures, medical neglect and failed treatments. My adolescence was spent in alienation, anger and depression with low mobility, excruciating pain and lots of secrets to keep. My last year of middle school, I was finally correctly diagnosed with a similar form of Inflammatory Bowel Disease―Crohn’sa chronic autoimmune disease, considered rare and affecting less than 200,000 Americans a year. 

By the time I was a freshman in high school, my doctor told me something I never expected to hear, that he was out of ideas. I had tried every steroid, immunosuppressant and biologic, some only available to adults at the time. I was even forced to try alternative medicine: magnetic therapy, acupuncture, herbs, oils, and restrictive diets, again to no success. I was growing weaker, had dropped to 70lbs, and was in so much constant pain I couldn’t stand up straight. I was running out of time. I was left with a last resort optionto have a life-altering surgery and use a permanent Ileostomy. 

The change was very difficult to grapple with at 15, but now, 10 years, three surgeries and no colon later, I am so grateful to have the quality of life I always dreamed of as a child. I immediately reached surgical remission lasting 6 years. As is typical of Crohn’s Disease’s unpredictable nature, I came out of remission during college. I experienced a series of flares, resulting in multiple trips to the E.R., intestinal strictures, using a wheelchair for a few months, and having more intestinal surgery. Being an adult on my own, I finally understood the financial burden of being sick.

The cost of hospital stays, operations and doctors visits was far more than I could afford, even with insurance. I went into medical debt for years before being able to pay it all down. I am now on a medication that has put me back into remission, and I’m not suffering from the constant stress and fear of getting through the day. Instead, I worry about being kicked off my parents’ health insurance 4 months from now and no longer being able to afford doctors visits, preventative procedures, ostomy supplies, or even the infusion therapy keeping me in remission. I worry about another flare up and the cost of hospitalizations and medicine. I worry that I’ll be forced to sacrifice my health and safety.

When you’re fighting for your future, paying for healthcare should not be a part of the stress. It’s hard enough just being sick. Support Medicare for All. Make sure you are registered to vote. Request your ballot as soon as possible and then immediately send it back, or better yet, deliver it in person. Make your voice heard and then hold your representatives accountable so we can guarantee healthcare for those of us who can not wait.

Click to share Amelia's story on Facebook.

Youtube video: https://youtu.be/QmOHNTHVtCI

 



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