Loved one in the hospital? Advocate, Advocate, Advocate!

Making decisions with or for our loved ones while they are in the hospital requires more knowledge than many of us have -- especially if a decision needs to be made in 24-48 hours.

You are visiting your elderly parent in the hospital, driving back and forth, fielding calls from your siblings bringing them up to date and holding down your job -- exhausted.

Doctors, case workers, social workers and hospital personnel barrage you with information. While your primary focus is caring for your loved one - you've taken on a new role in managing their healthcare needs.

Here is a quick checklist I recommend to my clients

1- Have your loved one's insurance information with you. You want to make sure the charges are covered by the insurance company, if possible before the services are administered.

2- Immediately find out whom the caseworker is for your loved one. You can do this by asking the nurse or the nursing supervisor at the nursing desk.

Care managers and case managers are registered nurses who work in collaboration with your physician to determine when you are medically ready for discharge and that you have a safe discharge plan in place. They serve as advocates and educators regarding the discharge planning process. They also serve as a liaison between the medical team and your insurance company to ensure that the services you require are covered.*

3- Become involved with the discharge plan. Cold truth - health insurance companies cut costs by reducing the number of days a patient remains in the hospital. You have control over when your loved one is being discharged. Ask to meet with the caseworker with your loved one at the hospital. Find out how long the hospital stay is expected, and what plans and services are in place after the patient leaves. If you or the patient disagree, find out what rights you have under the hospital's grievance policy or the insurance company's grievance policy.

4- Find out how the insurance company makes decisions on continuing or denying coverage. Another cold hard fact, unless the patient is willing and able to pay out of pocket, once the insurance company denies coverage for the stay you will be facing the hard decision of your loved one going home before you feel they have recovered.

5- You have rights to appeal the insurance company's decision. But you have to know what the process is. There are very tight timeframes (in many cases 2 days) to seek an appeal. Find out who the decision-maker is and work in conjunction with the hospital's case manager. Follow up on the day the decision is to be made. Some insurance companies fax their 'decisions' over the weekend to health care facilities offices when no one is there.

*Excerpted from NYU Langone Health

Attorneys need accommodations too!

Recently I was seeking accommodations for a client with a heart condition. The negotiations were going very well for my client. Suddenly, the attorney for my client asked for an accommodation! The accommodation was granted. All court users with qualified disabilities may request accommodations - this includes witnesses, jurors, parties and attorneys.

This week, the American Bar Association published a report on The Path to Lawyer Well Being. The report advocates for the well being of attorneys to be addressed at the firm, bar association and judicial levels. Many of these suggestions can be implemented with seeking accommodations under the Americans with Disabilities Act. Thank you @annebrafford, Editor-in-Chief for championing this project! For more on the report, please see this link:

It's summertime! Airport Accommodations for persons with disabilities

Recent article on airport & airplane accommodations suggests airplane aisles will be widened for wheelchairs and airplane lavatories will be widened for wheelchairs... here is the article.... learn more here

The Airplane of the Future Could Be Much More Accessible for Passengers With Disabilities

For one thing, the DOT is getting serious about making it easier to go to the bathroom.

by: AARIAN MARSHALL @AarianMarshall

For airline passengers with disabilities, logistical headaches exist at every turn. Imagine navigating a security line without being able to hear the capricious and ever-changing instructions of TSA agents; sitting through a long-haul flight without the take-it-for-granted option of in-flight entertainment; trying to navigate a wheelchair to a tiny lavatory through thin airplane aisles.

> But in early December, the Department of Transportation announced it’s exploring the possibility of new regulations that could force airlines to make additional accommodations for travelers with disabilities.

DOT is gathering feedback on creating new in-flight entertainment options for people with visual or hearing impairments, fitting accessible bathrooms on new single-aisle aircraft, and producing firm and fast rules about service animals.

Airlines are not subject to the American Disabilities Act, but companies with foreign and domestic flights terminating in the U.S. come under the Air Carriers Access Act. This law requires air carriers to provide “reasonable accommodations” to those with disabilities, up until those accommodations pose risks to other passengers or cause the airlines “undue burdens.” What that term means is clearly up for debate.

Why is this an issue now? More and more airlines are using small planes on very long flights, DOT notes. Those flights tend to have limited bathroom space. Eric Lipp is the director of the Open Doors Organization, which advocates for those with disabilities within the travel industry. He is partially paralyzed and uses an electric scooter to travel, but it’s simply too big for an airplane cabin and has to travel with the luggage. On flights, Lipp told the Chicago Tribune last month, he has to contact a flight attendant, be transferred to an on-board, folding wheelchair, and wheeled to a bathroom.

Current federal regulations only require airlines to place these wheelchairs on small planes with no accessible lavatory—the ones used increasingly often on long flights—if a passenger has given 48 hours’ notice.

And then when he actually gets to the restroom, Lipp faces the prospect of navigating around a mini airplane lavatory. It’s an ordeal, he said.

Of course, requiring companies to “take a few seats out and put [an accessible bathroom] in,” as Lipp suggests, has a serious downside for the airlines: Fewer seats to sell.

But the Open Doors Organization suggests there’s an economic case for accessible airplanes, too. According to the group’s 2015 survey, 11 million travelers with disabilities took 23 million trips over the past two years, spending $9 billion on their flights in the process. But 72 percent of those who traveled by air said “they encountered major obstacles with airlines,” indicating there’s a lot of room for improvement.

An addendum: Those numbers may not include older people, many of whom face similar types of challenges, like trouble walking, hearing, seeing, or communicating. They could use more accessible bathrooms, too.

There has been improvement on the issue of restrooms, specifically. More and more airlines have voluntarily purchased planes with restrooms like Airbus’s Super-Flex, which puts a moveable wall between two lavatories that can be rolled away by the crew to create one big, wheelchair-accessible throne. Airbus tells CityLab that 57 aircrafts equipped with the Super-Flex concept have been shipped, with more on the way.

Congratulations High School Graduates! Receiving accommodations in college is getting easier!

It's high school graduation time. Last week I attended my nephew - Brenden's graduation from Ravenscroft High School in Raleigh, N.C. This week, my cousin's daughter Lilly is graduating from Bronxville High School. Congratulations to the students AND their proud parents.

As a full time lawyer and ADA advocate and part time college adjunct professor, I speak with special education lawyers, college officials and students about their paths to college and the importance of understanding the differences in seeking and securing accommodations for learning disabilities in college.

Colleges and universities are inconsistent with what the medical documentation and testing they require to establish a student has a qualifying disability for ADA/504 accommodations. The RISE Act should make it easier by allowing students to submit documentation used in high school to establish their disabilities. Read more about [the RISE Act here ][1]

[1]: - disqus_thread

ADA Advocate Donna Drumm on panel to present: ABC’s of ADA

Update May 30, 2017 This presentation was cancelled and will be re-scheduled in the Fall. May 5, 2017

Donna Drumm, Esq. and ADA Advocate has been invited as a panel member to speak on the ABC's of the ADA.

Joining her are distinguished speakers:

Lucia Chiocchio, Esq. Eva David, Esq. Crystal Collins, Justice Center for the Protection of People with Special Needs
Lisa M. Bluestein, Esq.

This program will provide an overview of the rights and obligations under the ADA. Attorneys who represent business owners, real estate owners and developers, as well as landlords and tenants should attend.

The event will be held May 9th and is sponsored by the Westchester Women's Bar Association. For more information please go to this link

Donna Drumm attends lobbying session in NY Capitol for Dreams Law

May 1, 2017 Donna Drumm attended a lobbying session in Albany, NY at the Capitol Building to meet with members of the Assembly and Senators to advocate for Dream's Law.

She campaigned with Dream, Dream's mother, Diana Lemon and members of Friends of Karen "With the help of NY State Representative, Sandy Galef, and NY State Senator David Carlucci, Bill #S1165 (Dream Bill) is about to go before the New York State Senate. This bill would add an amendment to the Public Health Law to deem that a central venous line is “medically necessary” and, therefore, “to ensure as part of discharge planning for transplant patients with a central venous line, the designated caregiver shall be consulted on his or her capabilities and limitations in administering medications and providing proper central venous line care.” Dream Bill is poised to become Dream Law but still needs more public support.

If you would like to help support Dream Law, here’s what you can do: Call, write and/or email NY State Senator, Kemp Hannon, Chair of the NY Senate Health Committee and ask him to support this bill and share with your friends and ask them to do the same (#DreamLaw2017). Community Office: 595 Stewart Ave., Suite 540, Garden City, NY 11530; 516-739-1700 Albany Office: The Capitol – Room 420, Albany, NY 12247; 518-455-2200"

More Information about the Dream Bill and to sign the petition.

Pictured (left to right) ADA Advocate, Donna Drumm, Esq., NY Assemblywoman Michaelle C. Solages, Assembly District 22, Dream Shepherd of DreamsLaw, Diana Lemon - Dream's Mother & Activist Extraordinaire!   

Pictured (left to right) ADA Advocate, Donna Drumm, Esq., NY Assemblywoman Michaelle C. Solages, Assembly District 22, Dream Shepherd of DreamsLaw, Diana Lemon - Dream's Mother & Activist Extraordinaire! 


Donna Drumm becomes member of Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates (COPAA)

Thanks to my fellow attorney colleagues who practice with special needs children in K-12, I was introduced to the Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates. This month I was accepted as a member. It is my intention to share my knowledge of seeking accommodations for college and graduate students.

"COPAA is a community that works to increase the quality and quantity of advocate and attorney representation; and, through that vehicle,

Achieve Better Outcomes for the Families We Serve

We believe the key to accessing individualized, effective educational programs is assuring that students with disabilities and their parents are equal members of the educational team." (from COPAA's website home page)

Attention Airport Travelers in Wheelchairs

If you are a person who needs to travel through an airport in a wheelchair, or have a family member who does, read on:

I was discussing traveling with a person who due to their disability regularly travels through airports using the airport's wheelchairs. She described to me long waits for airport personnel to arrive with the wheelchair, being stranded in the middle of an airport because the wheelchair attendant's shift was over and she walked away and delays in getting to connecting flights while waiting for attendants to arrive at one gate to transport the person to a connecting flight's gate.

I accompanied this person before at an airport while they were using the wheelchair and found the airport personnell to be pleasant and accommodating. This story shocked me. Now my eyes are opened. Protect yourself and protect your family members.

Rules to protect your rights

"The Department of Transportation (DOT) requires airlines to provide assistance to passengers with disabilities while boarding and deplaning aircraft, including the use of wheelchairs, ramps, mechanical lifts and service personnel where needed." Preparation is important - when you make your reservations, telephone the airline and request their wheelchair reservation application. Fill it out and submit. Bring a copy with you to the airport.

"All carriers are now required to have a Complaints Resolution Official (CRO) immediately available (even if by phone) to resolve disagreements which may arise between the carrier and passengers with disabilities."* If you experience difficulties at the airport, speak to staff or ask them to put you in touch with the Complaints Resolution Official (CRO). Prior to leaving home, find out the CRO phone number for each airport you use during your trip. CROs are available 24/7.

Your Complaints Count

By law, "carriers also must respond within 30 days to written complaints about their treatment of disabled passengers, and specifically address the issues raised in the complaints. In addition, airlines must properly code and record their disability-related complaints in connection with required reporting to the Department."** Airlines place an enormous amount of importance on the disability related complaints they receive. One major airline received under 100 in one year. How can that be? Let your voice be heard.

Please reach out to me if you need an ADA Advocate for you or your family's travel.

For more information here are two articles:

Citations to this article:

Advocate for students with disabilities transitioning to college and the workforce

Thanks to the Westchester Women's Bar Association's presentation for parents, special needs attorneys and advocates on understanding the Americans with Disabilities Act and discussing strategies for educating parents and students on advocating in college and the workplace.

Once a special needs child enters college, the accommodations they can receive in college are completely different. The child, since they are now 18, must advocate for themselves by contacting the college's disabilities office and follow the college's procedures. The procedures to gain reasonable accommodations change from college to college. Services their parents did not pay for in K-12, may incur additional expenses. Consider researching prospective college or universities breadth of services they offer for special needs students or disabled students as part of your college admission journey. Many colleges have the reasonable accommodations requests procedures on their websites. If they do not, call the admissions department to ask to speak to a representative of their disabilities office.

When the young adult goes into the workforce, they may seek accommodations (under Title I of the ADA), at any time during the hiring and interview process. Any qualified individual can seek reasonable accommodations for their disability. Timing of asking for the accommodation is a personal decision and many factors should be weighed.

Please contact me if you are a parent or advocate for a young person entering college in need of accommodations, I can help!

Donna Drumm teaching Masters of Health Administration program @ Mercy College

Beginning next week, I will be teaching students in Mercy College's Master of Health Administration program Law, Government and Policy. Preparing for the course has given me more knowledge to empower students to make a difference in three ways: 1) The 'formal way', learning how to write a bill and bring it to a Comgressman.

2) Impacting policy from the workplace or 'behind the desk' advocacy.

3) Having no governmental experience, the activist way - someone who is not a professional politician or health administrator, who believes something should be changed and has the will to do so.

I bring this to my clients who having experienced the difference an ADA Advocate can bring to a court setting, are empowered to want to start up non profits or write books to help others suffering from disabilities to become aware of their rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Donna Drumm speaking on ADA Accommodations after High School

Donna Drumm, ADA Advocate and attorney will be presenting for the Westchester Women's Bar Association a round table discussion on accommodations for students transitioning into high school or the work force.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017 Time: 6:00 - 8:00 p.m. (light dinner served)

Place: White and Williams, LLP 427 Bedford Road, Suite 250 Pleasantville, NY 10570 Free parking in indoor lot on Bedford Rd. Do NOT park in underground lot.

$20 for WWBA Members $30 for Non-Members

Students who receive accommodations through IEP in elementary and high school, encounter an entirely different set of rules when they go to college or enter the workforce.

The Education Committee of the Westchester Women's Bar Association is sponsoring this presentation. Lawyers who represent children with special needs and attorneys who represent schools will each find valuable ways to expand their practice to continue to represent their clients as they enter into college or the workforce after graduating high school.

Special guest speaker, Molly McBride from the Office of ACCESSibility at Mercy College will contribute from the school administrator's point of view.

For more information please follow this link:

ADA and Employers - Nurse in psychiatric ward using cane for arthritis denied job reassignment

In a departure from circuit courts throughout the United States, a nurse who suffers from arthritis and uses a cane was denied transferring to another position in the psychiatric hospital. This article is relevant for health care managers and human resource professionals. For more read the case analysis here: