Patients ask for service improvements at Jobs with Justice event

On March 13, 2019, a patients’ rights hearing was held by the organization Jobs with Justice, at Northeastern Crossing, in Roxbury, to give patients an opportunity to discuss their concerns about patient services at Whittier.

Patients addressed their comments to a hearing panel comprised of community leaders. The panel will be preparing a report of the concerns raised by patients and plans to present it to Whittier’s Board of Directors and management.

The hearing was prompted in part by the limited opportunities patients have had to discuss important problems affecting their care, and their desire to begin a community dialogue about how these problems might be solved.

Whittier staff have also tried in a number of ways, over the past several years, to speak with management about the challenges facing Whittier. Unfortunately, a number of them have been reprimanded, even fired, for requesting greater dialogue. Providers echoed this frustration in a recent survey of former Whittier providers (see Survey of former providers: why do they leave Whittier?). And the National Labor Relations Board recently accused Whittier of wide-ranging and ongoing intimidation and harassment of staff, including the illegal firing of healthcare providers in retaliation for supporting a union (See NLRB ruling: Whittier must respect workers’ rights). Following the professional staff union election in June, 2018, the Whittier Board of Directors threatened legal action against anyone who should approach them to discuss problems or solutions at Whittier. Moreover, it’s been difficult to engage individual community members who support Whittier’s current approach, who seem to invariably decline conversations about Whittier when approached.

Issues raised

During the hearing a number of concerns were raised by patients. A common theme was the negative effect that the very high turnover of providers has had on the quality of care that patients receive, and the personal losses patients have suffered because of that. Participants also described difficulties they’ve had getting appointments with new and old providers, due to the lack of enough new providers and the subsequent increased demand for the services of older providers. Patients asked for the restoration of closed programs, including Urgent Care and the Orthodontics Clinic, and the return of needed medical specialists, such as HIV providers. They also described problems with basic health center functions, such as the answering of phones and the returning of messages left by patients.

One hope expressed by many participants was that the hearing might spark a new urgency among staff, community residents, and Whittier management to begin talking, listening to each other, and working together to improve care and services at Whittier.

Patient testimony

Below are excerpts from some of testimony given at the event. Several patients who attended the event, and who back the Whittier administration’s approach of reducing services and staff, also asked for and were granted time to speak.

Please contact us if you’d like a full transcript of the event.

“And I went to call him, and someone told me he was no longer there.  So I was never notified.  So I no longer had a mental health provider, which almost sent me into a spiral.”

Moderator:  Thank you so much for being with us tonight. We are going to start with our first patient.

UH:  I’ve been a patient at Whittier Street since 2009. I came there because I was in early recovery and I had no idea how to live life . . .  I developed a relationship with a male [therapist] who I began to trust, who held me accountable, who brought me through some really dark times.

So there was a day when I was having a hard time in my life. And I went to call him, and someone told me he was no longer there. So I was never notified. So I no longer had a mental health provider, which almost sent me into a spiral. However, I just kind of replayed the tape I made working with him. And it brought up some tools to help with that spiral.

I swear by Whittier Street. I swear by Whittier Street so much that the child my mother had custody of, and who I now have custody of – thanks to my therapist – I didn’t think I’d be a good parent again – I brought her to Whittier Street. [Addressed to provider in audience:], if I could say anything to you, it’s that I wouldn’t be half the woman that I am today without your guidance, without your support, and without you holding me accountable to live life on life’s terms . . .  Today I’m a recovery coach. I work for women in early recovery, for mothers in early recovery, and I’m giving back what gave me: some hope that I could live life on life’s terms, without using a substance.

Whittier Street is losing, or terminating, or whatever word you want to choose, amazing providers. Like, what happens to patients who don’t speak up, who are too afraid to speak up? Their voices don’t get heard. Like, I don’t have that problem – I’m going to walk my truth and I’m going to speak my truth. They lost one of the best mental health clinicians that they ever had. [Provider] even saved my daughter, at 15, when her school told her that she needed to be hospitalized. I brought her to see him, because I trusted him.

I don’t want to start over with somebody else. He knows me, he knows my story, he knows my history, he knows me inside and out. I haven’t had therapy in eight months, and I’m barely holding on.

So if I could say anything to Whittier Street, it would be to please return to the community the decent providers we need.

“I was almost completely done with my braces, and Whittier unexpectedly closed the department without good notice from anyone. I got a letter in November, 2018, even though the office closed on October 31, 2018 . . .  I still don’t have any dentist I can go to. “

Moderator:  S.H. is going to speak next. He not only going to share his own testimony but he’s also going to share the testimony of some other Orthodontic patients, because they couldn’t be here.

S.H.:  I’m going to [read written statements] on other peoples’ behalf first, and then give my own testimony afterwards:

Patient K.G.:  I was a patient of Whittier for about 5 years. I was receiving Orthodontist treatment from Dr. Abedon. My treatment was terminated without enough notice. All I received was a letter, about a month in advance, from when my treatment would be terminated, without any explanation.

It caused a great inconvenience because I was then forced to seek treatment somewhere else.

I also had to pay this new doctor for my treatment. Due to the lack of professionalism and communication from Whittier, I was burdened with an unexpected expense when I had to seek treatment somewhere else.

Patient V.C.:  I was half way with my treatment and almost paid it in full, around $6,000. The process to help patients after they send the letter – it wasn’t helpful at all – and they just took out the doctor who knew how he was helping us. this bad and uncomfortable situation is very exhausting.

The action of getting rid of Ortho services has impacted me very negatively. I haven’t continued with my braces treatment yet, as of March 12, 2019. I’m pregnant and just want to continue and finish my treatment. Please take into consideration that I’m not the only patient with this issue right now.

S.H.:  With my story, it was similar to the patients I just read about . . .  I was almost completely done with my braces, and Whittier unexpectedly closed the department without good notice from anyone. I got a letter in November, 2018, even though the office closed on October 31, 2018. . .  It was unfortunate, because he pretty much wanted to just wrap up the cases he was involved with, on good terms, but he couldn’t because Whittier Street closed the department without even considering the needs of those patients.

I still don’t have any dentist I can go to. It’s been about five months, and I still have the issue that’s been lingering.

“I had to go down there five times to see someone in person to ask for an appointment . . .  We have to do better. “

H.R.:  I’ve been with Whittier Street for years – probably over 10 years, maybe 15 . . .  I’ve had times in my life where I’ve needed to reach out to find someone to talk with. I found a provider who helped and it felt great. That person has brought me through some dark times and we gelled together. To be honest, I was looking for someone who looked like me, to relate to, but I got scheduled with a man. I’d been seeing him for something like eight months when, all of a sudden, I call up to make my appointment and he’s not there. The receptionist said he no longer worked there. I said, “what do you mean, he no longer works here? How come I wasn’t notified, by phone or some other documentation? Do you know if he’s coming back?” They said he wasn’t . . .  No one could give me an answer about why my original provider wasn’t coming back. Nobody wanted to say too much.

I was really disappointed. I want to have my provider back. We should make that possible at Whittier Street.

Now they’ve gotten rid of the Urgent Care department. So now when you call up with illness or something else going on no one picks up the phones, no one returns messages. I had to go down there five times to see someone in person to ask for an appointment. That’s a big issue.

I just want to say this – and I don’t know if I’m going to get some backlash for it – but I don’t know the CEO personally, but I see her around. I’ve had some negative interactions with her. She has no idea who I am – I’m just a patient. And I’ve seen her around the center quite a bit. In fact, I’ve performed there for the events they’ve had. And I walked up to her and said, “Hi, how are you?” She turned and just walked away and ignored me. I wondered what that was all about. I spoken to her a few times since then, at a few corporate functions that I’ve performed at. She never spoke to me, rolled her eyes at me . . .  She just has a sense of arrogance about her. It’s not conducive to a friendly environment.

And the other day we were outside Whittier handing out fliers to this event and she was handed one of the fliers. As she was walking she ripped it right up. On the way back she said “I’d rip that flyer up any day.” I mean, really?

We have to do better, to get better treatment. We all deserve it – not just me but all patients.

“We shouldn’t have to have this fear of our health care, nor should any of the doctors who work there need to feel the fear of retaliation . . .   I was dropped from my health care, without a word, without a warning, without forwarding of my care”

M.W.:  I used to be a patient at Whittier. I’m an AIDS activist.

I have never, in my lifetime within the health care system, seen such corruption and fear at a place. I heard the previous patient mention the possibility of retaliation. That just should not be. We should never have a fear to speak our minds about our health care and address the issues that affect our lives, and we just shouldn’t have fear. I’d never experienced it in all these years until here . . .   We shouldn’t have to have this fear of our health care, nor should any of the doctors who work there need to feel the fear of retaliation.

This is one of the few places that is minority specific, with immigrants, refugees, and minorities. There were providers there that looked like us, that spoke our language. Many of them are gone now. I even had a primary care provider who was from my own country. He wasn’t an AIDS specialist but he acted as my specialist, because the AIDS specialist who I did have before him from BMC was gone.

I was dropped from my health care, without a word, without a warning, without forwarding of my care . . .  You don’t know what I’m going through. I’m living with HIV. That’s my life. And I was dropped from care . . .   Someone who doesn’t speak English, isn’t an activist, who is scared to even talk to someone or use the word “HIV” – how do they navigate that? Many of our doctors are being fired, dropped without a reason.

I have to be seen regularly, I’m on medication every day of my life, probably for the rest of my life, unless a cure comes along. I need my health care . . .   The trust is gone for me. From the community and from people like myself, it’s gone.

“I called the next morning and left a message about rescheduling, that I was going through withdrawal, and that I hoped to see a doctor as soon as possible. I still have not received a phone call back. I called three times.”

J.K.:  I’ve been a patient at Whittier for just over 10 years. My time at Whittier Street started at the South Bay House of Corrections. The Whittier Men’s Health Department goes there and speaks with the men who are incarcerated there. My health care there was delivered to me according to a number; I was 0704856. I didn’t get my health care by name, bur rather by a number. When I needed to see a doctor I put a piece of paper in a box and waited 6-8 weeks for a doctor.

When I left South Bay I was homeless, with just a couch to sleep on that night. But when I went into Whittier Street I was set up with a doctor, with Mental Health, I was offered substance abuse programs, and I was even set up with a free winter coat if I needed it. I came in in a sweatshirt in January and they asked if I needed a coat, and I told them yeah, I needed it. So when I began care ten years ago I was given all these things that assisted me in getting back on my feet after leaving the House of Corrections.

The health care that I got at Whittier was so amazing and the support that I got from the staff was so great that, no matter where I lived in Eastern Massachusetts after that, I kept Whittier Street as my provider . . .   For the past year, all I can say is that my care has been disgusting. I’m standing here right now, in the midst of an opiate withdrawal, because my doctor couldn’t see me to refill a prescription.

[A letter from the CEO to patients] says that “in order to ensure financial stability and continue to provide high quality health care to our patients, we’ve reduced some staff, left some positions unfilled, and even eliminated some services which could no longer be financially supported . . .   Now, I get insurance documentation every time I go to Whittier for a doctor’s appointment, and the charge is for hundreds of dollars for a 15 minute appointment, which means that they’re billing for over a thousand dollars an hour, when my doctor’s seeing four patients an hour. And they are – the doctors would work there are hard working doctors.

Last Monday I got a robocall from Whittier about my upcoming appointment on Wednesday, confirming that it was at the particular date with my provider. Tuesday evening I got a message from a nurse saying that my provider was going to be on vacation tomorrow, wouldn’t be able to keep the appointment, and that I should call to reschedule. I called the next morning and left a message about rescheduling, that I was going through withdrawal, and that I hoped to see a doctor as soon as possible. I still have not received a phone call back. I called three times.

The CEO letter says on the back, as well, “for example, we’ve phased out Urgent Care”. I was in the emergency room at Beth Israel a couple of weeks ago for an injury, because I couldn’t go to Urgent Care – it wasn’t there. You have to call to get an appointment and if you want to see a doctor there you have to call that day for an appointment. And if you call in early enough, and they answer the phone, you might be lucky enough to get an appointment. I called Whittier Street in the morning to try to get an appointment. I left a message but I didn’t hear back from them by noon time. I called and left another message, but I didn’t hear back. By 2:00 I was in the BI emergency room, I was in front of a doctor by 4:00.

The letter says “we phased out Urgent Care and we were able to fund several same-day Urgent Care slots across our primary care departments. This nimble approach helps our bottom line, without compromising or sacrificing quality of care.” If you survey the patients at Whittier Street they would say that’s a lie, that it’s not sacrificing quality of care. Because the number of patients at Whittier Street, and this is an assumption on my part, that have had to go to emergency rooms of these hospitals have greatly increased over these past six months since Urgent Care was closed.

My mental health treatment has basically evaporated. Where I used to have a standing appointment once a week to see a counselor to work on my things – that doesn’t happen anymore. It phased out a couple of years ago to where I would have to call and see if there was an appointment available that day. More recently, if I needed to see a mental health counselor on a certain day I would need to come in between 2-4:00 PM on a certain afternoon on this particular day, whereas I used to have a standing appointment every Tuesday at 5:00. While I previously had 40 minute appointments it’s now hard to get a 15 minute appointment. Now, the providers that I’ve had have always made that extra time available for me, to make sure my questions were answered. They were always very attentive, very caring.

The way I found out that my practitioner had been fired for union organizing is that I tried to call and make an appointment. I didn’t get any phone calls back and I needed an appointment and so I had to physically go to the building, stand in line, and try to make an appointment. When I tried to make an appointment with my provider the woman at the desk explained, to the best of her ability, that my provider wasn’t here anymore. I asked, “Is there anything you can tell me? How I can get a hold of him?” She had no information for me, didn’t offer another provider, and I was left without a service that I had been providing at Whittier Street for 9-1/2 years up until that point. Yet I received no notice.

To union bash working class people who are trying to provide other working class people with important health care services, is a problem. We don’t have a healthy society unless we have healthy people.

“I would have appreciated just a letter saying that this is what happened. I think it would be fair, it would be respectful. I mean, nobody’s ever called me to ask if I want to see someone else. I’ve never been offered any options.”

S.D.:  In 2009 my youngest son, John, was killed. I found myself really struggling with the loss. I’d suffered multiple losses before that and was diagnosed with complications of grief. In November, 2013, I was really going through a crisis. I’d been in and out of the emergency room, meeting with psychiatrists, therapists. Someone in my community recommended that I go to Whittier Street Health Center to find a provider, and I thank God every day for the opportunity I got there.

So I started meeting with this provider at Whittier and I thought, “OK, here we go again. You’ll be with them for a year, you’ll open yourself up again, this person’s going to leave. Or the insurance – there’s always something.”

So I kept meeting with him, very consistently. I could go in and there’d be times we wouldn’t talk, other times when we would. He had a way of working with me to help me see myself for who I was, where I could go, and who I could be, even after the loss. And he did this slowly. I continued seeing him, and after the third year of therapy I got to a place where I could see myself giving up substances. I got onto a medication regimen, was working on that, and things were going really, really well.

The last summer I noticed something on the news – I’m not really familiar with the dynamics, or the union, or Ms. Williams – I just went there for the therapy. And then I got a phone call that he had been terminated. I thought, “What? I was at a loss.” But then I guess the mayor stepped in and reinstated the workers, and I was thankful that he was back.

But then in October I went to see him and he wasn’t there. The secretary did the best they could to explain. I was just in awe, at a loss for words. For me, for my body, I took it as another loss, like he’s gone.

So, it’s been really hard. I have to say it’s been really hard. There are mothers’ groups but there’s nobody for that one-on-one. I never got any letters. I never got any phone calls. I never got anything from Whittier. I called multiple times, called the complaint line. You know, ethically within the medical field it was wrong. Closure – just a letter to say this is what’s happened, he’s not going to be there any more – that letter of closure would have helped me process, to process things on my own. I could have reached out to people to say, OK he’s not there any more.

I would have appreciated just a letter saying that this is what happened. I think it would be fair, it would be respectful. I mean, nobody’s ever called me to ask if I want to see someone else. I’ve never been offered any options.

“I called for one month straight. No one picked up, no one got back to me. I called for a month! I had to physically go down there to make an appointment.”

A.D.:  I’ve been going there since Whittier erected the building, a pretty long time. And what I’ve seen happen to Whittier Street, which has worked so hard to get to where it’s at, is hard. Whittier used to be what you wanted a community health center to be. As the years have gone by it’s been declining.

I’ve gone through so many providers that I don’t really care to have a personal one-to-one connection any more, because I don’t know when you’re going to leave, I don’t know who I’m going to see anymore. It’s like a revolving door. Not because of them. Because we have such good providers that have going to school and want to give back to our communities. And there’s a lot of them I’ve worked with in this medical community who could be making a lot more money than doing what they’re doing at Whittier. But they choose to go there for a reason. But we don’t honor them – well, I shouldn’t say we – the Establishment there right now is not doing the best job for either the patients or the providers.

I’m the face of domestic violence. I was in an eight-year relationship with a partner. Things didn’t go well near the end and I was beaten senseless. If I showed you pictures from then you wouldn’t have recognized me. Thank God Whittier Street gave me the support of who does domestic violence counseling, who was there to catch me because I was falling apart at the seams. I was also being seen there for personal therapy. And I had both of those things, which were my lifeline, were pulled from me. I was spinning.

My pet peeve for Whittier – and for any staff who are here tonight, please hear me – When that phone rings, that’s your money maker. That’s me on the other end trying to call to make an appointment. I called for one month straight. No one picked up, no one got back to me. I called for a month! I had to physically go down there to make an appointment. That’s unheard of.

When some new staff comes in and they see another staff saying, “oh, I’m not going to pick up that phone, let it go to message,” it’s creating a bad culture. Because sooner or later those doors will be closed, and there’ll be nobody at Whittier Street.

I want to stay within my community. Can’t we, as a community, come together and find our way out of this. It doesn’t have to be a me against you – it doesn’t have to be that. We are grown adults. We need to come together. I’m frustrated. I have great providers. I’ve gone through – I don’t know, I’ll just throw out a ballpark figure – 15 providers? It wasn’t because of me but rather because of this cycle. Something’s done which the higher-ups don’t like – goodbye. It shouldn’t be like that.

“Please, Whittier, be considerate. Think of the person calling as one of your children. We’re all from the same community.”

B.R.:  I’d like to do this in order to be a voice for others. I’ve been at Whittier Street for a number of years. Unfortunately I happened to be a victim of crime. I needed to get medical advice, I had a lot going on – physically, mentally, and emotionally. I didn’t know how to tackle that alone, and I needed help. I decided to seek help at Whittier Street, which was my clinic. Unfortunately, it was difficult getting an appointment – I had to keep trying and trying. I wondered, if it was so hard for me, how would it be for other people who really needed help.

I had a primary care provider, who I continued seeing, who oversaw all my needed surgical care . . .   Eventually, I don’t know what happened with the system at Whittier, but left, I saw somebody else, then somebody else yet again. The same thing pretty much happened with my psychiatrist and therapist. I saw several therapists. And they kept asking the same questions over and over. I had one wonderful therapist, but I overheard through the grapevine that she was involved in some way with starting a union. I really didn’t care about that, since I was focused on trying to get my health together. But all of a sudden, my health care got interrupted because I guess Whittier targeted that person. And when they did, I was left without help. The next person they gave my also left.

Whittier did this with my mental health care, they did this with my primary health care. I was in despair, I was tired, because I’d already had twelve operations. I was a victim of crime, and in the process of going through that I also saved a life in the process of fighting for my own. I was going through a number of things.

Now I’m still seeking help. I haven’t really gotten the help that I need since my providers left.

Unfortunately these days when they seek me out it’s to cancel appointments. I’m really worried for people who are less capable of being persistent in trying to make appointments.

Please, Whittier, be considerate. Think of the person calling as one of your children. We’re all from the same community.

“And it seems to me that everybody wanted to crash her down and on her like she’s nothing. Well, hold up here, let me tell you all something. When you need food to eat, you can always go to Whittier and they will feed you. When you need clothes on your back and it’s cold out there and it’s freezing she’s give you a coat to put on you.”

S.T.:  I’m president of the Whittier Street Development. I’ve been at the Whittier Development since 1954. I’ve been going to Whittier since it was across the street there on Whittier Street. I’ve brought my children there. I was always involved in doing things at Whittier, such as when the Motor Vehicle Registry people stepped in and didn’t want Whittier there, because they claimed there was some smell there that was a problem. They just didn’t want to be in the area because having a black female was a big deal.

Regardless of how you all feel – everybody has their own feelings about what’s going on with Frederica, or the staff, or whatever the surrounding is. But remember one thing: She’s a woman. She tries very hard to do what she’s able to do. Even though she might make mistakes – and all of us do make mistakes, we are not perfect – what hurts me is that I feel this stuff is coming out because all of a sudden they named a building after this young lady. And it seems to me that everybody wanted to crash her down and on her like she’s nothing. Well, hold up here, let me tell you all something. When you need food to eat, you can always go to Whittier and they will feed you. When you need clothes on your back and it’s cold out there and it’s freezing she’ll give you a coat to put on you.

And I’m going to say right now, I’m not going to take anybody’s side – I’m for the right. And the right is this: Where are all you going to go should Whittier’s doors close. How are the seniors, how are the children, how are the adults, how are they going to get to another place for treatment? All the psychiatrists, all the nurses – you left because you chose to leave.

We should not put that woman down because she worked very hard to get to the top, because if she wasn’t qualified to be what she is today she never would have got voted in.

“Here come the newspapers with their one-sided stories about Whittier Street and the work that this woman has done . . .  There’s a lot of people in this room who don’t live in our community and who don’t understand what’s going on.”

H.F:  I’m also a patient at Whittier Street. What I recognize this evening is a lot of blame, a lot of shame, a lot of pain, anger at a woman who tries her best to make it better for this community. Here come the newspapers with their one-sided stories about Whittier Street and the work that this woman has done.

When you go to Boston Medical Center they don’t treat you like they do over at Whittier Street . . . That lady has done a lot of work in this community and people don’t give her her props . . .  When she was around the corner here, and bringing in ex-offenders from the jail house, up there with the van at Dudley Street, not getting money from a direct source, like Boston Medical, she had to write grants and proposals. And budgets get cut.

Oh, maybe they didn’t call you. They called me! I told a guy yesterday, I told a lady yesterday in Stop and Shop – she could hardly walk, and she said I don’t have any insurance – to go to Whittier Street. Go to Whittier Street, because Whittier Street will take you even if you don’t have insurance coverage. Am I lying? . . .  There’s a lot of pain in this room. There’s a lot of people in this room who don’t live in our community and who don’t understand what’s going on.

Of course it’s OK to have a union. Who’s against a union? But the union’s got to understand that they can’t make up all this stuff . . .  Let me tell you something: Nobody’s perfect. She can’t run around and hold staff’s hands.

But when those babies get those Christmas presents, and people get those coats and all that, that’s not normally what a community health center’s supposed to do. She put food in there for people. There are a lot of people over here who don’t eat, for whatever reason. She let them know – and you don’t have to call her because there are big signs all around . . .   She’s got Moslems, Christians, all of them working together over there. So, if you’re going to tell the story, everybody, let’s tell the whole story.

Sure, maybe Whittier needs some work . . .  But she doesn’t need to be attacked in this manner. When you have a transition situation where you don’t have sustainable income and budgets, you’re going to have financial crises and people are going to get laid off. But you don’t get mad because you were laid off, and you’re going to double back and make everybody look like they’re the devil.

“All I care about is the health care that is in this community. That health care is the fabric of this community. And we, as a people, all need to be working together to keep it there.”

D.: I’ve been with Whittier Street some twenty-something years. I used to work with Whittier Street, I did a lot of volunteer work at Whittier Street, and Whittier Street has brought a lot of services to Madison Park Village, where I was working as the resident social service coordinator. They would come over and do high blood pressure screenings. They brought a lot of services to Madison Park Village community, and they’re still doing it.

I don’t know what happened when it came to – what do you call it, when they organized – the union. I didn’t even see it. People told me but I did not see it. I really don’t know about it. Really, to me personally, I really don’t care about it. All I care about is the health care that is in this community. That health care is the fabric of this community. And we, as a people, all need to be working together to keep it there.

When I first went in there I had a nurse practitioner who was phenomenal. Because she took the time with me. And we had our little closure [when she left] – I cried.

I’m seeing someone in Behavioral Health. My father got shot. He was in a wheelchair. They had to get the guy out to the apartment. Then my grandfather died. One death after another. So I have a lot of stress going on. And then, while we were burying my grandfather I watched my mother have a stroke right in the living room.

And I called Whittier Street and I asked to speak with someone. I believe she won’t mind if I call her name . The best! I’ve had her for a long time, and still have her. One of the best – she’s outstanding. She has brought me through a lot of different things that I was going through.

I’ve had a lot of quality service at Whittier Street since I’ve been there, I can tell you that. I know that since the union organized, there have been a lot of changes. I’m on the Patient Advisory Board – I’m one of the members now. We’re going to come together and talk about some of the issues that patients are having. We don’t want people to think there’s nothing happening.

I hated when they closed Urgent Care. I was like – that Urgent Care – I don’t know where we’re going to get money, but we need some money.

What we need to do is start getting some pens and pencils and writing to our government, calling our congresspeople, senators, because we need that Urgent Care back open. Because I was sick recently, and she said it’s going to be a while before you get to see the doctor – because I couldn’t see my doctor now; he’s got so many patients – and I had to wait like three hours. I was sick but I waited. I’m glad I waited because she was a good doctor too! She was really good. She apologized, “I’m sorry, we have so many patients, so many patients.” I don’t know why all the doctors left, whoever left, but I do know that we, as a people, need to come together and get our paper and pencils and start writing to our government.

That department needs to be back open. It’s putting a lot of pressure on those doctors who are there, pressure on the patients who have to wait for hours and hours, and the staff.

And we even talked about the phone system – when we had that meeting, I had to tell them about that phone – I even talked to Miss Frederica about that phone. They said they were working on it. It’s better than what it was. It was a horror at one time. It was horror. It has gotten better, it’s gotten better.

I want to say let’s not knock each other down, because we need a health center in this community. I appreciate all of those who have rendered services at Whittier Street and I appreciate Miss Frederica as well.

“As a patient myself of Whittier for 32 years, I love my health center . . .   As it deteriorates, it’s bad for our community. “

Moderator: I just want to make it clear to people what this meeting’s about. This meeting wasn’t created to come down on Frederica, personally.

This was an opportunity for patients to have their voices heard, when they weren’t heard during the time these decisions [about service cutbacks] were made that affect our community.

As a patient myself of Whittier for 32 years, I love my health center. I love the care I’ve gotten there, up until recently. Up until this, I had never had a problem with Whittier Street. I moved across the city and I still continued to get my care there because it was the best health care center we had in Boston.

As it deteriorates, it’s bad for our community. It does us no good if we’re not looking out for the people who aren’t looked out for. We have to protect the services we have because, if we don’t, like everything else in our community, they’ll be gentrified too.

March 25, 2019