After suffering multiple injuries in a fall, 61 year old Medicaid recipient Boonyawan Sunpitaksaree was discharged from the hospital in a wheelchair she now needed, but could not operate on her own. "My English is not good enough to comprehend everything they said. I was in pain and I could not help myself."
Fight for care turns a client into an advocate
Medicaid had covered Ms. Sunpitaksaree's initial hospital care, but she needed more.
Paula Wolff of The Center for Independence of the Disabled (CIDNY)--which partners with CSS's Community Health Advocates--noted that Boonyawan had walked with a cane prior to her fall. Said Paula: "She wasn't safe returning home from the hospital without home care--she needed a personal care attendant, but the hospital should have arranged that before they released her, and they didn't do it."
Boonywan, who is originally from Thailand, added: "The hospital said, you have to go home now. My English is not good enough to comprehend everything they said. I was in pain and I could not help myself at that time. That's why I had to come to CIDNY." Paula immediately called the city agency that provides home care: "They said 'it's the hospitals fault.' I said, 'Look, I don't care whose fault it is--we've got to get her home care.'" Paula's advocacy resulted in her client receiving the care she had been eligible for all along--but at a frustrating pace. "Rules got in the way," adds Paula, "and they made her wait another two months. That should not happen."
Says Boonyawan, "I was in pain and I could not help myself at that time. Paula has helped me so much, and I have learned how to advocate for myself."