On September 26, 2011, in the front lobby of the Jewish General Hospital, a heavyset mature woman all dressed in black is giving hell to Rosemary Steinberg - the hospital's ombudsperson - over "ABUSE ! "
I did not hear the details, but the woman was visibly angry and imploring Rosemary to believe her. She swore on "Yom Kippur". She begged to be allowed to swear on the Talmud.
Rosemary kept trying to placate her and to keep her voice down.
I could not remain silent any longer as this went on and on. I took a few steps to where they were standing by the flower shop, and I said,
"Sorry to interrupt you, but I want you to know you are not the only one."
The woman was visibly relieved. Not so Rosemary. She told me that I should speak to her later, alone.
Divide and conquer. Politics in the Jewish General Hospital. Keep patients with grievances apart and make sure they don't compare notes.
I have absolutely nothing to hide. I said,
"I don't have to speak to you, Rosemary. I like you, but you just cover up and cover up."
And I stepped away immediately and went about my business.
Rosemary Steinberg - patients' rights advocate, ombudsman - is not answerable to the patients - but to Dr. Portnoy. Chief of Staff. The administration ensures that unpleasant facts are not heard.
Rosemary Steinberg is a very likeable woman, but she is not there to protect the patients' rights. She is there to protect the corporation.
Our lives depend on the hospital. People - patients, patients' families and friends, eye and ear witnesses - are afraid to make the hospital authorities angry.
It is relatively rare for a patient or a family member to speak out within the hearing of others. And I can testify that if anyone does, they are hushed up and made to feel guilty and even irrational.
In a letter from Dr. Portnoy, Chief of Staff, when I complained about an excruciating colonoscopy - Portnoy writes that I am "known to be over sensitive." Discredit and intimidate the one who reports things the administration does not want to be known.
If anything I have published is less than the truth, let the hospital sue me. Then other patients and their families will see what goes on and some will come forward and speak about their own cases - not only at the Jewish General which is one of the best hospitals anywhere, I think - but in all hospitals where there are similar shenanigans going on.
I stopped reporting to Rosemary Steinberg when it became evident that it was useless to do so. There is nothing but stalling and excuses and suggestions that the one who complains is the problem.
Rosemary Steinberg is, no doubt, serving some of the interests of some of the patients, some of the time, I believe she is a good person, but I am convinced that her job depends on her being beholden to the corporation, not the patients.
Patients have to fight for themselves. The truth is our only weapon.
We can't fix things until the cover ups stop.
HOW WE MIGHT DIE IN HOSPITAL - LEGARE LOBBY BLUES
With Comments From Another Patient's Family Member