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Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Still seems like last week

On July 1st, 1998, my first-born child died in my arms in Brotman Medical Center in Culver City, California, in the wake of 26 months of cancer hell. She'd have been 47 this year, and no doubt still turning heads and raising a hilarious ruckus. Sigh...

From my forthcoming book "One in Three,"
It is the soggy and crushingly sad el Nino L.A. winter of 1998. My now- brain-met stroke-addled daughter is painfully traversing the final months of her life. While admitted to acute care facilities (she has been an acute care patient in seven across the two years of her horrific cancer struggle), she gets the best clinical attention available, no strings attached, courtesy of Medi-Cal (the California Medicaid agency for the poor and otherwise medically indigent). But, outpatient care is another matter. Sissy has ongoing need of follow-up physical and occupational therapy, regarding which Medi-Cal will not authorize reimbursement.

Her therapy team from Brotman Medical Center -- at great individual and aggregate personal and professional risk to themselves -- arrange to have her routinely come in incognito off the books (via a back door, no less) to an outpatient rehab clinic in Beverly Hills where they work on the side, to continue her therapy -- notwithstanding that we all know by that time that she will not likely survive much longer.

That is an utterly unembellished true story. There are numerous unsung heroes within our health care industry, people whose unrelenting focus is "patients first."

Sissy and Danielle, Seattle, 1974. Danielle is now Executive Director of the Bay Area Stepping Stones Project. Proud Papa of Danielle and her brother Matthew (the Brewer).

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