Area activist has hand in patient-rights guide
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home / healthcare / in the media

The Press-Enterprise (Riverside, CA.)
Jun 12, 2001

by Amy Diaz

Area activist has hand in patient-rights guide

Linda Roberts-Ross of Yucaipa says the booklet she helped write will be sent to libraries and doctors.
Health-care activist Linda Roberts-Ross helped write a booklet she hopes will give patients life-saving information.

"People have got to be partners in their own health care," said Ross, a Yucaipa resident.

Titled "The California Patient's Guide," the booklet, which has been available on the Internet and recently was released in printed form, will go out to libraries, doctors' offices and patient advocates, Ross said.

"Very intelligent people have a very difficult time making their way through this maze that is the health care system," Ross said.

The booklet also will serve as a reference for law students because it collects citations to California codes and statutes related to health care, she said.

The guide, which contains an index and glossary, includes information about medical records, HMOs and emergency care. The guide is written in a question-and-answer format and is user-friendly, she said.

The Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights, a nonprofit organization based in Santa Monica, put the guide together with a grant from the California Wellness Foundation. Ross and other health-care activists helped write and compile the booklet.

Ross, 45, began her work in patient rights after her mother, Barbara Roberts of Lake Elsinore, died of a blood clot in her pulmonary artery after waiting for hours to see a doctor in an emergency room. Ross entered into arbitration with Kaiser Permanente Medical Center, and, she said, it was during the deposition of one of the doctors that she realized she wanted to be a lawyer.

"The only way you get to ask the questions is if you're the attorney," she said.

She used $ 150,000 from the settlement with Kaiser to attend law school at Western State University in Fullerton, where she graduated in 1999. Ross recently started working for the law firm of Anderson and Kriger in Riverside.

"I had to figure out some way to make something positive come out of this," she said.

Ross said her mother was a grassroots activist and used to have a sign that read "Democracy is not a spectator sport."

Ross said she has continued her family's tradition of activism with her work on health-care issues, including appearances before legislative committees in Sacramento and Washington.

"I would much rather still be ignorant and happy and have my mom, but I have kind of embraced that this is my mission," she said.

The California Patient's Guide is available on the Internet at www.calpatientguide.org
or by calling the California Department of Consumer Affairs at (800) 952-5210 or the Department of Managed Health Care at (888) HMO-2219.

* * *

DEALING WITH HMO'S
* Check doctor's credentials with state agencies.
* Establish a relationship with your doctor.
* Learn the rules of your HMO.
* Do not accept vague time lines from the HMO.

SOURCE: THE CALIFORNIA PATIENT'S GUIDE



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