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I have written in the past about how I come to a decision about the topics of my articles. At times I have an experience, which prompts me to focus on a particular disease or illness. Many months have a designated illness or disease process, which is cited for awareness for which I share information. April for example is National Parkinson's disease Awareness Month, Stress Awareness Month, National Autism Awareness Month and National Volunteerism Month just to list a few.

There are times when I have so many things to share that I cannot pack it all into one column. And as my followers also know sometimes I just have a flat-out rant over the current state of health care. This column is packed full of all of the above.

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April marks the beginning of the long awaited new Medicare (red, white and blue card) rollout. If you are receiving Medicare benefits and are carrying the tattered old card in your wallet, a new card is coming!

The new card will no longer contain your social security number. The card will arrive in the mail. You don't have to do anything to receive it, however, you must notify Social Security if your address has changed. There will be no change in benefits or coverage. When the new card arrives, destroy the old card. Remember to take it to your physician's offices so that they can update your records. If you have a Medicare Advantage Plan you will need both cards.

There is the potential for scam, which is of concern so DO NOT GIVE OUT THE NUMBER! The number should only be provided to health care providers. You will not ever be called by anyone at Social Security asking if you have received your card or asking for the number on the card. Trust me, scammers have already begun to try to get the information by posing as Social Security. Do not give the number to anyone on the phone. Scammers may threaten to discontinue benefits. Hang up and call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227).

Unfortunately this leads me to my next advisory. Scams of all sorts are on the rise.

I was recently contacted on a Saturday and told that my BGE bill was overdue and that my power would be turned off in a few hours if I did not give them a credit card over the phone. I told the caller that I had paid my bill and was told that I had a new meter installed which I had not paid for. I asked for a number to call back and after some resistance was given a number similar to the BGE number. I called it and it went to a call center where I heard several voices in the background and when I stated it did not seem legitimate the caller's tone became threatening and aggressive. The manipulative caller on the other end went to great lengths to get my credit card number. He became very nasty when I questioned him.

Imposter Scams are very common. If you receive a call from someone claiming that you owe money and need to wire money or give your credit card number to pay taxes or fees do not give out any information! They may call saying you have won a prize or that someone in your family has an emergency and needs money. They can be very convincing. No government agency will call to ask for money over the phone. To report scams call the Federal Trade Commission at 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357).

April is National Volunteerism Month. I want to thank all of the volunteers who keep our world turning! I am amazed when I see the dedication of loyal volunteers each day in my travels. From hospital volunteers at the front desk, gift shop cashiers and decorators, emergency department volunteers helping to make the visit a bit more comfortable to volunteers giving of their time to aging communities I recognize you and thank you all!

Parkinson's disease affects 10 million people worldwide. More than 200,000 new cases are diagnosed every year. Education, exercise and support are imperative to living with this disease.

Support and education are available in Carroll County through Carroll Hospital's Support Group held on Thursdays from 1-2:30 p.m. in the Shauck Auditorium East Pavilion, 291 Stoner Ave. For more information call 410-871-7000.

Therafit Rehab is an Outpatient Neurological Rehab Facility specializing in the treatment of Parkinson's disease located in the 140 Village Shopping Center. Call 410-871-2494 for information.

Rock Steady Boxing is a program at Movement Disorder Education and Exercise, Inc., which helps people living with Parkinson's to manage and live with movement disorders. The classes are offered at Westminster Town Mall. Call 410-916-1638 for more information.

Finally, I will end on a reflection for all those providing services in health care. The rant will, I hope, encourage more consideration on the subject of "Patient–Centered Care."

I was optimistic when this new shift seemed to be emerging a few years back. It seemed that health care was evolving to include patients as active participants in their care while being responsive to the individual needs of patients and putting those needs before the needs of the provider or institution.

I have thus far been disappointed. I have become an observer in the ways of patient-centered care in various settings. From the first call to the physician's office, where patients may be told that their need for a specific appointment time due to transportation needs can't be accommodated, watching as office staff calls a 90-year-old patient with a walker up to the desk to fill out paperwork or carry back it to his/her seat, to watching as aging or frail patients walk from the farthest spots on the parking lot because employees have backed there cars into the closest spots, to excessive wait times, to watching as some physicians do not listen and obtain an adequate history before rushing the patient out or saying "you can tell me two things that are wrong and that's it," and hearing from family members it's clear that "they" are only concerned about their bottom line and what's best for "them" when discussing a facility, that patient- centered care has a long way to go. Not that strides have not been made but while all the self patting on the back on how much we think is being done we all need to think about the basic needs that are not being addressed in health care.

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It is my intention that this serves to provide information, updates and recognition to keep us all better aware and informed.



Jill Rosner is a registered nurse, certified geriatric care manager and owner of Rosner Healthcare Navigation. She provides patient advocacy and care management services to clients with health and aging issues. Contact her at JillRosnerRN@aol.com.

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