Rob Oliver: Welcome to perspectives on health care, my guest today is Judy Porro she is a friend of mine, but she is also an orientation and mobility specialist she is a baby Boomer and she is joining us today from down in Miami Florida Judy welcome to the show.
Judy Porro: Thank you it’s good to be a part of it is good to see you.
Rob Oliver: Thank you it’s great to see you as well it’s been far too long let’s jump right into this I’ve got six questions for you, and here we go tell me a little bit about yourself and your role in the healthcare, please.
Judy Porro: Okay, a little bit about myself I’m up until I became an orientation and mobility specialist I was a special education teacher. I taught all grade levels, I was also a school administrator so I’ve got a lot of experience in working with people with all kinds of disabilities and I obviously I love it because I’ve been doing it for most of my life so now, when I was teaching, I wanted to get out of the classroom and I happen to have… well actually I had a student who was totally blind I’d never worked with anybody that was totally blind and I thought to myself what am I gonna do with this kid. He was going into first grade, and he was part of our as why extended school year, which is summer school for students with disabilities and like as he was getting going into first grade, and I find I don’t know what I’m going to do with his kid because I’m going to have them next year. All this young man did he just cried and he, like through fits and nobody in nobody knew what to do with them and his mother was really awesome she was very difficult so that next school year started, and it was very difficult he, like I said he like threw these fits or whatever, and I said to myself I’m not doing this next year, he is not going to do this, this young man he couldn’t. He never walked. He didn’t crawl all he did was lay down or sit down on the floor on a chair, whatever I said, this is not going to happen he’s going to get up. I got this young man up and by the end of that that first year by the time I was done, working with him, he was able to walk into the classroom you know holding on to something, because he up until that time like I said he really never walked and so, he was able to walk into the classroom empty his lunch box hang up his coat empty his book bag walk to the sink wash his hands with some assistance, but I was able to get him up and walking and doing all of these things to be more independent. His mom was absolutely amazed, so I said to myself, I knew I wanted to get out of out of education, I said, this is something I could do. If I can, if I can teach this young man to be able to walk but he he didn’t throw any fits anymore, because someone was able to communicate with him and I think that’s what it all came down to. Someone cared about him, you know he wasn’t just thrown in a corner somewhere, so when cared about him, so I said that’s what I’m going to do so, I went back to school and I got my masters in vision services through UMass Boston So when I had to do my internship and it just so happened that one of my instructors through there used to work at the Miami lighthouse and we thought that would be a great place for my internship, which is what I did so, I went to the Miami lighthouse for my internship I loved what I was doing, and then they hired me so as an orientation and mobility specialist. I teach people who are blind or visually impaired to travel with a cane which is helping them to be as independent as possible, that means indoor travel going up and down stairs outdoor travel along the sidewalk using public transportation crossing streets. All of that so I now work with primarily adults and sometimes teenagers and helping them to be more independent, in addition to that, I just received my national certification from a cvr EP, which is the certifying organization for people in envision therapy, so I am now also a certified vision rehabilitation therapist to which means that I work I can work with people to be more independent in their home and in their personal life. That means I can teach them how to cook how to clean their house, how to manage the medication identify their money do their laundry just to be more independent throughout their life so that’s what I do.
Rob Oliver: Yeah I love, and I mean obviously as a person with a disability myself anything that can be done to help individuals with disabilities to become as independent as possible, what great work and it’s got to be very, very fulfilling work I would imagine. Although, the other piece of that is, I have a couple teenagers here, and if you could work with them a little bit more on cleaning the house and doing laundry that would be, that would be very helpful…
Judy Porro: You gotta make it fun got to make it fun and I do and I’m making.
Rob Oliver: I’m sure that you do, knowing you. What does quality healthcare mean to you?
Judy Porro: Quality health care, I guess quality healthcare is something, you know Rob some of the people that I work with have worked with other medical professionals, who number one don’t understand disabilities in my case vision, you know loss of vision. So I think quality healthcare is is having somebody that that you know you can trust it understands you as a person and understands you with your disability, with a you know, since I work with people with disabilities and you know someone who understands and can work with people with disabilities have a heart for people and in genuine care for people yeah.
Rob Oliver: I love that definition, can you give me an example of what you think quality healthcare is.
Judy Porro: I have a client, believe it or not, I traveled down to key West as well. Actually it’s really a lot of fun just to ride down is fun. I happen to have a new client in key West and he moved there from New York, he has glaucoma and he was he was okay until the pandemic hit that pandemic really threw a wrench into a lot of things. In his case, his ophthalmologist would take one look at them and say okay take these eyedrops and see me in three weeks well you know it doesn’t work like that now, with glaucoma you need to really be on top of things with glaucoma so what happened with this with this man is… He didn’t get quality care and he lost his vision, as a result of that, because if you know anything about glaucoma it’s pressure in your eye. Okay, so you have fluid in your eye and you have the gel in the middle of your eyeball right so when you have glaucoma that gel like substance. It grows in it and it puts more pressure on your eyeball which means it’s going to it’s going to hurt your retina that’s where all your vision comes from is your retina so if you’re not taking care of it your retina is going to pull away from the back of your eyeball which is going to take away your vision and that’s what happened to this young man, this man. So that’s an example of poor health care, good health care or quality health care, would be just the opposite, that this doctor would have would have seen this this this means need found a way for him to get his medication checked up on him every once in a while found a way to get him to the office that he can see his doctor when he needed to, and so in this case, this man is you know now he has no vision or very little vision.
Rob Oliver: Right, what do you wish people understood about your role in healthcare?
Judy Porro: My role in health care, I guess um… wish people knew more about or understood or were more compassionate, I guess. Maybe it’s just understanding more than compassion for people who have disabilities any kind of a disability, in my case it’s vision. But I’ve worked with people with physical disabilities, you know I just think people need to be more aware of people with disabilities, how many times I’ve heard of people who are blind or visually impaired, using a long cane traveling and someone will kick their came away from the or a lot of times, people who are blind or visually impaired, they don’t look like they’re blind Okay, but their eyes look like yours and mine and so people can’t tell if they have a visual impairment, so I was walking down the street one time with a client lot past a822 bus stop in the man in the bus stop said oh he’s not blind and I said yeah yes and so he pulled his cane away from him and I thought that’s really rude I think people need to be more understanding about people who have disabilities and treating them more as as as as individuals, I mean I’m sure you’ve experienced this as to when you go into a restaurant with a friend and they ask you what you want to order and they don’t ask you, they asked your friend. Right, has that happened to you?
Rob Oliver: It has.: It was one of those things my wife and I went out and they asked her what I wanted to drink and it made me mad so when the waitress came back I ordered for my wife and I just to you know kind of do the spiteful thing. Hey, listen, not only can I order for myself, but I’m going to handle this for both of us, and like now, you have to treat me… because I’m the one that’s going to pay the bill here. So yes, definitely. So what excites you about the future of healthcare?
Judy Porro: What excites me with the future? I guess just the fact that, with all the technology and medical things that you’re having more and more people who are more healthy, you know. We have all these medical breakthroughs it’s amazing what science is doing. We I don’t know how familiar, you are with this there’s a new… not really new it’s been out for a few years for people who are blind or visually impaired it’s something In my life dimension, companies and products okay it’s a it’s a product called or can okay and it’s a pair of glasses and it has a little like camera on the on the one stem of your glasses and with that you will be able to you can read. It it’ll read a whole you know newspaper, or whatever you have in front of you it’ll recognize faces it’ll tell you, if there’s something in front of you as you’re traveling so with all the medical breakthrough, I mean it’s just amazing what is out there that can help my clients. So that’s one of the things I’m really excited about the technology.
Rob Oliver: And rightly so, what is one thing that medical professionals can start doing today to improve the quality of healthcare?
Judy Porro: Recognize your patients as individuals they’re not just a chart. They’re not just a number. Get to know them as an as an individual. If they if they have a visual impairment, they have a physical disability whatever learn about it, I mean even medical doctors, they don’t get it. I don’t think sometimes they treat their patients as individuals, some of them may, but I think that’s really that’s, the most important thing, because they are individuals everybody has different needs, even though they have the same met a lot of the same medical needs and sense but. I hear a lot about from my clients, but doctors who just don’t understand you know visual impairments yeah.
Rob Oliver: A very, very valid point and I think something that all medical professionals can learn from and remember. Judy Porro, you have been phenomenal Thank you so much for joining us on perspectives on health care and giving us your viewpoint, it has been very insightful. To all my listeners thanks for being here today .If you’ve enjoyed this interview, I would encourage you to subscribe to the show, so you don’t miss a single episode. Have a wonderful day everybody.