Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Long Island Transgender Day of Remembrance November 2009

I was honored to be asked to speak at the Long Island Transgender Day of Remembrance this week to one of the warmest and most wonderful group of people I have ever known. Below is what I said:
Long Island Transgender Day of Remembrance
As presented by Ilene Corina
November 22, 2009

A young man with a face of innocence hands a written prescription to the medical receptionist that he is in need of an internal sonogram. She questions him in front of a waiting room full of patients. Embarrassed he leaves, never to get the care he needs.

A man in need of an EKG is told to remove his shirt. Because of his discomfort with his body given to him at birth he is embarrassed and confused. Why isn’t every man or woman offered a gown when disrobing any article of clothing? In this case, he has already avoided the gynecologist and mammography he so desperately needs in an attempt to avoid acknowledging his body. 

A 45 year old man is hospitalized following a hysterectomy and the doctor wants to put him on the post partum floor filled with women who just gave birth.

Bill wants to be called Jennifer but no where on the medical chart is there a place to have that information available. 

The first time I was asked to advocate at the bedside of someone who is transgender, I was determined to be sure the patient was kept safe from medical errors and treated with dignity and respect. But, an unauthorized hospital worker walked into the patient’s room who I was there to support and protect. My role was to make sure that didn’t happen. Every hospital worker must introduce themselves upon entering a room and state their reason for being there. But he got past me – my first experience that the same people who are supposed to help and heal the patient, bring their own curiosity and prejudices to work every day.

Every day transgender people avoid necessary medical treatment, dreading the inevitable and hurtful lack of sensitivity they may find in the medical community.

Hospitals are not perfect places. Every day as many as 200 people die in Americas hospitals due to preventable medical errors. More people die in hospitals from errors than breast cancer, AIDS and car accidents combined. And, just as many people, 100 thousand die every year die from hospital acquired infections.

The number one reason - is - that medical professionals do not use proper hand hygiene. We are expecting these same people, who won’t wash their hands before touching a patient to treat that patient with dignity and respect?

Every year as many as 1.5 million people are harmed because of medication errors. Medications being used for off label use, that have been shown to work - must be tested. Funding needs to be made available for testing so patients can be safe. 

Most hospital workers are the most caring people we will ever know. But some will go to work with prejudices and there must be screening - or at least sensitivity training. Medical and nursing schools need to work into their curriculum training in diversity – before healthcare providers ever work with a patient.

Today, we are in a remarkable position: policy makers and healthcare organizations are listening to the concerns of the transgender community and the country is showing an interest. But first, the people who understand the frustration of being treated with disrespect must band together. Advocate for each other. Form groups to stay close and speak up for each other when in need of health services, surgery or medical treatment.

A young man has an asthma attack and fears going to the emergency room because he doesn’t want anyone to know he wears a binder. To reveal his body would be more tragic than the struggle to breathe. A support system in place could be called to be sure he would not have to answer uncomfortable questions. 

As a trainer in patient advocacy we work on respect and communication skills. 

No on can presume that they know how to treat someone with different needs if they have not taken the time to listen, hear and learn what those needs are. 

There are needs as an individual and there are needs as a group. Together we will make sure those people who treat each and every one of you know what those needs are. I need your help to get us there and I promise to stand by your side as we get there - and have your needs met through policy changes and raising awareness from the top down and from the grassroots up. Thank you.


Anonymous said...

Could not find a suitable section so I written here, how to become a moderator for your forum, that need for this?

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Marie said...

I was sitting in an ER w/my husband many years ago. While waiting for the doctor, a woman from housekeeping can to the "cubicle" we were sitting in. While wearing a pair of latex gloves, she put her hands in the garbage pail to see how full it was & then she emptied it. While wearing the same pair of gloves, she then went to the paper towel dispenser & pushed the towels up to see if the dispenser needed more. She then opened the dispenser & added more paper towels w/ the same gloves she wore while touching the garbage. We were mortified.

I went to the "Nurse in Charge" & told her what I had observed. She listened but she really didn't seem concerned. I returned to my husband as the doctor walked in. He washed his hands & reached for the paper towels & I stopped him. I explained to him what had transpired & I wasn't going to let him touch my husband if he used those towels.

The scariest part of this story is that we were sitting in the 2nd to last “cubicle” of 7 or 8 “cubicles”. It’s no wonder people contract infections while in the hospital. Hospitals hire uneducated and non-English speaking people as “housekeepers” & then don’t train them properly and allow them to work unsupervised.

My grandmother survived major heart surgery, only to die from a staff infection!!!!

Something needs to change in our hospitals & soon, before more people die!!