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Sunday, January 19, 2014

The War Was Far From Over If you're "just tuning in" this post may leave you wondering what the heck I am rambling about, I hope you take the time to go back and review my earlier posts so you can catch up with our story. I very much appreciate your thoughts and comments.
For anyone who has been along for the whole wild ride - Thank you!

The War Was Far From Over

On August 1, 2013, after the huge debacle the previous afternoon, mom was “officially” admitted to a Skilled Nursing Facility within a few miles of the hospital where her surgery had been done . 
Unfortunately, there still was not a private room available and since the room we had agreed to temporarily while waiting for a private room was no longer an option, we took the only bed available.  Not only was mom NOT in a private room, she had been given the bed farthest from the tiny shared bathroom; the equipment necessary for her to be able to even stand up barely fit through the door, let alone around the bed of her roommate.  Of course, by the time we knew there was a problem; it was too late to do anything but roll with the punches.

It’s not that we didn't know there was a problem almost immediately, but again what could we do about it?  Mother had already been discharged from the inpatient Acute Rehab Unit and we were sitting in the hallway of the SNF when we learned the bed mom was promised was not available.  Where could we go?  How could we go?  We were five hours from home and didn't have a vehicle that I was sure I could get mom in/out of.  We were stuck and I was scared.

The picture submitted with
the order from the ACU.
I didn't want to alarm mom with my own concerns about the facility, so I made the best of a bad situation.  Once I finally was able to get mom situated, I began unpacking her suitcase.  I was barely able to fit the wheelchair in a crowded corner of the room; I couldn't imagine how or where her walker would fit.  It wasn't until mom said “I need to use the bathroom” that I realized we didn't have a walker that she was able to use.  We had been told when mom was discharged from the ACU that an order had been sent to the SNF and that they would have a Bilateral Platform walker for mom.  I had also been told by the Director of Therapy at the facility there was one available for mom to use “until one could be ordered”; I knew they had one, I saw it with my own eyes.  Realizing mom probably couldn't wait to go to the bathroom until a walker was ordered, I rang for the nurse.

This type of call button is
very difficult for arthritic hands,
but that's all they had.
When no one responded after the first two times I pushed the call button, I walked down the hall to the nurses’ station where I found the one nurse who was assigned to moms’ wing.  My request for assistance getting mom to the bathroom was met with frustration.  “I’ll get someone in there as soon as I have some help”, was the response from the nurse.  Understanding that she was under a lot of pressure with so many patients, I offered to go find the therapist so we could get a walker that mom would be able to use for now.  “I’ll get someone in there as soon as I have some help”, the nurse repeated louder as if maybe I hadn't heard her the first time; I stared at her as I counted to ten.
I returned to moms’ room trying not to show my disdain.  “She’ll be here as soon as she can”, I tried to keep a light tone.  I went about trying to make the small area in the small room as cozy as possible while waiting for the nurse or somebody to come help mom to the bathroom.  I was having flashbacks of the first time mom had to be in a SNF; the indignity of having to soil one’s self due to lack of staff was unacceptable in my opinion.  “I really have to go”, moms’ voice startled me; her eyes were imploring me to do something.  Once again, I pressed the call button; I set the timer on my phone at the same time.  I waited five minutes and was about to push it again when I changed my mind.  “I’ll be right back”, I assured mom.

As I neared the nurses’ station I could hear chattering coming from what I assumed was the medicine closet, so I peeked around the corner and saw the nurse and a CNA chatting; it didn't sound like they were chatting about helping mom to the bathroom.  “Someone will be there in a few minutes”, the nurse smiled at me when she saw me standing there, but didn't move; again, I set the timer on my phone.  Three minutes later I headed down the hall towards the therapy room.

“Can I help you?” the Director of Therapy asked as I entered the room.  I explained our current
dilemma and was told he would bring the walker right away.  I returned to moms’ room a few minutes later to find her uncomfortably perched on a bed pan, where she had evidently been since I had left the nurses’ station 15 minutes or so before.  I pushed the call button and we waited several more minutes before I started back down the hall; finding no one in the area, I entered a room that had been pointed out to us as “for the patients” when we toured the facility a few days before and began looking in cupboards for wipes so I could get mom off the bedpan.  “Do you need something” a CNA appeared just as I found the wipes and pulled a package out of the cupboard.

“I found what I was looking for”, I started to ease past the CNA who was standing in the doorway.  I was nearly by her when she snatched the pack of wipes from my hand telling me she had to “sign them out” to moms’ account.  I stood in the center of the hall waiting for the aide to return, wondering how long mom could sit on that bedpan.  You would think, at this point, the aide would have returned with the wipes and taken them to help mom, right?  Yeah, me too, but that’s not what happened.

“Here you go”, the aide at least smiled as she handed me the wipes, “I’ll be in there in a few minutes”.  Deciding my mothers’ comfort was more important that ripping this girl’s hair out, I went to help mom. 
It wasn't until I was attempting to ease the bedpan out from underneath mom that I realized, not only were the mattresses light and flimsy (and not secured to the frame in any way), there were no bed rails for mom to pull herself up or over with; or to keep her from falling out.  Somehow I managed to remove the bedpan and get mom cleaned up without making a mess just as the nurse appeared; the aide right on her heals.  The nurse handed mom pills; the aide took the bedpan I was heading to dump.  As she cleared the call light and handed mom her water to swallow the pills with, the nurse said “Did you need something?  Your light was on.”  Are you kidding me?!

At some point the therapist had entered the room with the bilateral platform walker he had promised to bring “right away”.  The therapist acted inconvenienced when he said, “Well, I guess you don’t need this now”.  Are you KIDDING me?
I tried to stay calm as I reminded the therapist that we had been assured there was a walker available for mom; “She might need to use the bathroom again sometime”, I said sarcastically.  I’m not sure how the therapist expected me to react after telling me why mom had to use the bedpan until she had been formally evaluated, which he wouldn't have time to do until “sometime tomorrow”, but I’m pretty sure he was as surprised as I was at the sharpness of my tongue.  After quite a bit of back and forth between me and the therapist, he finally agreed to leave the walker for mom to use.


I may have won the battle, but the fact that there was a battle indicated there was a war; I knew the
war was far from over.


Tanya said...

How horrible, yet so typical.

healthcare hostages said...

Unfortunately, it is typical. In my opinion, most SNF's are staffed at bare bones minimum in order to increase profits.