Wednesday, October 15, 2008

2008. Post Apartheid: Bedlam Fees, Fraser Esslemont

All was white noise and confusion regarding brother Fraser Esslemont's Bedlam fees. Pietermaritzburg Mental Health Society had read a lot into my July 2008 letter which had queried increased fees. Pmb Mental Health Soc's August 2008 reply:

"In response to your letter please take note of the following:

1. Your dissatisfaction is noted.
2. Fees are increased every year for all residents of the Society. [Residents!]
3. The fees that are charged are the same for all residents who receive a disability grant and are state subsidized.
4. Residents who have private income are paying fees of R3000.00 per month.
5. In your brother's case he was charged the same fee as those residents who receive a disability grant because we were able to secure a state subsidy for him, due to his limited means.
6. Your brother's trust account at Mental Health Society is audited every year by external auditors and this Society prides itself in the care and protection of hundreds of our clients' trust accounts entrusted to this Society. [Vague!]
7. The accommodation and what is provided to your brother is the same for all residents. No one gets special or different treatment.
8. The ambulance policy is non refundable and compulsory. It covers all residents and all residents get the same for toiletries and pocket money. [Vague!]
9. Your brother's curator always pays late and thus Fraser's account is always showing to be in arrears, despite our attempts to negotiate with them. They have never indicated to the Society that Fraser's investment is unable to cover fees, nor have they tried to negotiate the fees or the increases.

Your suggestion that this Society may be exploiting your vulnerable brother is offensive, and implies we do not provide a protective service to any of our residents. [Avoiding my questions, and reading 'suggestion,' 'offensive' and 'implies' into my July letter!]

We believe that this Society offers value for money in our services to disabled (and sometimes indigent) residents; we are charging the lowest fees in the province. [Vague!] It would be nice if you could come out and see for yourself what services are provided for your brother. Perhaps you would find better satisfaction at another organization. We would be happy to give details of alternative accommodation that may better suit you and your brother's needs."

My October 2008 reply to Pmb Mental Health Soc.:

"Regarding my July 2008 letter concerning my brother Fraser Esslemont's fees, thank you for your August 2008 letter, postmarked September 2008, received October 2008. The delay between your writing and posting is noted.

I am not querying the fees or care of indigents and other disabled people in Pmb MH Soc's care. I am only querying my brother Fraser Esslemont's fees and care, so your comparing his care / fees to others' is irrelevant.

I don't know who 'we' refers to in your August 2008 letter. Please specify names, as I can't respond to a vague 'we.' Your taking offense to my querying Fraser's fees is your perception only.

Your complaint about my brother Fraser's fees always being in arrears by his curator / administrator: Pmb Mental Health Soc's accountants have had 10 years to sort out account payment problems with the curator. The complaint is a perceived problem of Pmb MH Soc's own making.

Please cease suggesting that I travel from NZ to SA (at my obvious inconvenience and great expense) to view Pmb MH Soc's facilities, (or for any other reason), when you can efficiently answer my questions by mail. If / when I decide to travel to SA (unlikely for years), it will be my decision alone, and not Pmb MH Soc's decision. (In the past I had Addington Hospital and Town Hill Hospital making those sort of money wasting requests / impositions as well). I'm sure you would find it ridiculous, outrageous and naive if I asked you to travel to NZ at your inconvenience and expense to answer my questions in person.

Please also cease suggesting I find (or maybe asking Fraser's curator to find) alternative accommodation for Fraser, as over the years Addington Hospital / Town Hill Hospital made those sort of suggestions / impositions when I queried Fraser's welfare under their care.

Regarding my July 2008 letter, as you have failed to answer my questions properly, please refer to my July 2008 letter and specifically answer the following by return of post:

1. How many hostel men share a hostel room and ablutions with Fraser?
2. Is Fraser handed his pocket money, or does he have to ask for it?
2.2 What does Fraser's monthly R... Toiletries fee buy: Toilet paper? Deodorant? Shavers? Soap?
2.3 i Why does Sunnyside not have its own emergency transport?
ii How does the monthly R... ambulance fee actually benefit Fraser?
Please also answer:
2.4 What is the frequency of Fraser's ambulance use: Daily? Weekly? Monthly? Yearly?

As I have travelled a long journey of over 50 years with Fraser (longer than you ever will) I have no wish to cause offence, but I do need transparency. Telling me Fraser's trust account is annually audited by others is not good enough. Fraser's small estate is derived from an inheritance from our mother, who worked hard and for many years to achieve financial independence. I do not need my mother's memory, or my intelligence, or Fraser's insulted by vague responses to my fee queries.

Please provide answers to my questions by return of post."

No reply to my letter by Xmas 2008.

Pmb MH Soc was playing an ugly power game I'd also experienced at Addington Hospital and Town Hill Hospital, while ignoring Fraser's stability and my questions. After Addington and Town Hill carers started talking of moving Fraser, his stability degraded, and carers blamed brain-damaged Fraser for infractions of their own making.

The author of the Pmb MH Soc letter was offended that I queried annual increases in Fraser's fees. What really was offensive was the author didn't want to be held accountable to Fraser's family for fee increases, yet used Fraser's fees to offend Fraser in her care, by suggesting Fraser should stay elsewhere, after Pmb MH Soc had obtained and used state subsidies for Fraser, and used Fraser's money without complaint to me for ten years, despite my friendly correspondence with the author over the previous five years.

Coda: Just before Christmas 2008, I emailed a Pmb Mental Health Soc director about my unanswered questions. She emailed a report which answered some of my questions.

Over the next 10 years, Fraser continued living at Sunnyside Farm, Bulwer. His letters soon petered out. Pmb MH Soc didn't encourage Fraser to write to me. They sent me general info about Fraser in a quarterly, email newsletter (petered out after a couple of years) or emails, with occasional pics of Fraser, from senior staff. The Durban curator emailed Fraser's annual financial reports for my info.

2017. Thirty years after Fraser's, brain damaging, motor vehicle accident at Verulam & years of so-called convalescence at Addington Hospital & Town Hill Hospital & Sunnyside Farm, Pmb Mental Health Soc sold Sunnyside Farm & moved Fraser to The Palms, Pmb, another care establishment run by Pmb Mental Health Soc.

Hopefully Fraser would remain stable after his move back to Pmb. Survivor Fraser may outlive us all.

Oh Maritzburg, Happy Land, Happy Land,
I'm going back to Maritzburg if I can.
Oh Hallelujah, Oh Hallelujah.
Daar's plek op die Donkie Wa...

Copyright Mark JS Esslemont.

1 comment:

Mark JS Esslemont said...

Email from a Northlands Boys High School mate and Durban North Commando buddy, living in USA, who ran a clinic in Durban North for years:

"Really feel for you with regard to your Bro! and his care, and of course those morons know very well that you are not able to be there every minute to keep an eye on their activities, and with the constant pilfering of funds who knows where the money goes? It really makes me sick.

I was chatting to my brother this am, and he was telling me about some of the wonderful activities going on, in our old stomping grounds, namely Northway, in Durban North. He tells me that the table in the front yard of the clinic at the top of Athlone Hill [near old Robina Stores] is now a popular place to get laid by whores who have more or less moved in, he says it is like Point Road used to be on a good day. And a 30 year old friend on his way to work yesterday, stopped to get some breakfast, and on exiting the restaurant was accosted by our African brothers, shot twice in the chest and then to guarantee his death was shot five more times. He was so depressed I really don't think he knows what to do next, and with one child still at school with one year left, does not want to uproot him to move.

There has to be something that we can do as far as getting the extremely biased media to start paying attention to the reverse racism and ethnic cleansing, which they played a big part in, taking place in S. Africa. I assume that is what you are attempting to do with your blog [Yep, partly], but more people need to read it.

We spoke about our possible family ties [on my mom's side], but having read your last blog about your mom being born in Bethlehem, well I know [Bethlehem] is a small place, but it was like a second home to our family as well. My dad and the Paxinos family were like brothers. Alex who was the mayor of Bethlehem owned the only tyre business in town. I used to go to the Vrystaat athletics champs every year and stay with them... We were extremely close and the braai, boerewors and pap, with ice cold beer after the meet, is etched in my memory forever. I really don't know whether relating all these old stories is therapy or torture, the psychiatrists (whackos) always claim that talking about issues makes it easier to accept things in life that are traumatic, but I am not too sure about that.

Unfortunately we will never be able to put our "Green Beret" training into effect, by taking our country back (saw the list of [murder] statistics in your blog, it's horrific) but my grandfather told my dad years ago, before I was born, that the blacks would run the country into the ground, and eventually it would end up back in the hands of the whites to salvage what they can of it. He was pretty high up in the Masons, so maybe he knew something we don't.

Well my friend as much as I hate fragmented relationships, we are spread over the globe, and one great advantage of the internet is that the miles between us are reduced.

Take care,..."