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Thursday, February 20, 2014

............a long three weeks.

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.

.......a long three weeks.

It was obvious that the meeting with the department heads of the Skilled Nursing Facility on August 1, 2013 had been a waste of time.  The Intake Coordinator, who had called the meeting and made many unfulfilled promises, wasn't there; the Director of Nursing had been flippant and dismissive; the Director of Therapy had been defensive and borderline combative; the Social Worker (who was brand new – 3rd day on the job) was timid, but pleasant.  Although, after some negotiating, each department representative had acquiesced to my…….let’s call them requests, my expectations were not being met.  This was going to be a long three weeks!

the light chain extension I fashioned
out of rubber gloves.

I didn't think I had made unreasonable requests, things like the commode being emptied and cleaned; a light chain long enough that mom could actually reach it; a shower twice a week (at least or as needed); someone to help dress and transport her to meals, etc.; a therapy program congruent with the goal of mom going home on or about the 23rd of August, 2013 and also to have the necessary equipment to facilitate her therapy not only while she was at the facility, but when we went home too.

It seemed moms’ goal (and mine) of going home as soon as possible following her six week check up with the knee surgeon and the discontinuance of her IV antibiotics, were not the same as the goals of the powers that be at the Skilled nursing facility; we were continually reminded that mom had 100 days of rehab that would be covered by Medicare and her supplemental insurance.  I continually reminded them that she was to have her prosthetic knee replacement in October; she would need those days once the rods and spacer were removed and she was no longer straight legged.  It seemed everything was a battle.

Although there were a couple of nurses and several CNA’s who were very good and obviously took pride in their work (I made a point to make fast friends with this bunch!), there were just as many (actually many more) who seemed indifferent to the needs of the patients (well, you know, keep your enemies closer!).  I had relocated to an Extended Stay motel about a mile from the facility.  Not only did I intend to pop in several times a day at various times (at least for a few days until I felt more comfortable), I wanted to be close in case of an emergency.  While a lot of people might interpret a true “emergency” as a LIFE OR DEATH situation, my definition was somewhat different.

While I was fairly certain my mother would not starve to death, in my mind it was an emergency when she called at 5:50PM and had been ringing for staff since 5:30 with no response, the dining room
would close in another ten minutes and she needed help to get there.  Of course, this happened before I was able to make my move to a closer hotel; there was no way I could get there in ten minutes (especially during rush hour).  As I skirted across town via the side streets, hoping to not get caught in a traffic jam, I dialed every number I had been given for the facility.  I was swearing like a truck driver when I dialed the last number.

Finally, at Six O`clock straight up, someone picked up the phone.  As calmly as possible I explained my plight and implored the very nice lady on the other end to help.  She assured me that everyone had been taken to the dining room and then made the mistake of trying to placate me by saying, “Don’t worry, your mom will be well taken care of here”.  I almost drove off the road as I screamed in to my phone, “Not everyone has been taken to the dining room, MY mother is still in her room”.  The oh, so sweet voice on the other end of the line made me have visions of wrapping the phone cord around her neck when she said, “I’m sure your wrong, but I will have someone check”.  As graciously as I could, I thanked her just as I pulled in to the parking lot.  I stepped off the elevator just in time to see mom being wheeled toward the dining room; everybody else was heading in the opposite direction.

The CNA who had taken mom to the dining room stopped at the nursing station where I was letting it be known, in no uncertain terms, that what happened that evening was totally unacceptable.  It was clear
that the nurse I was unloading on did not understand why I was so upset, in fact I wasn't sure she understood anything I was saying as she stood there smiling at me.  The CNA stepped in and said something to the nurse in a language I wasn't familiar with.  The nurse quit smiling and quickly busied herself with another patient as the CNA turned to me, shrugged her shoulders and with a smile of her own said, “Sorry, I thought your mom had decided to eat in her room when she didn't come to the dining room.”  The aide visibly flinched and took a step back when I glared at her.

I’m sure the aide thought I was going to hit her; and for a brief second I thought so too.  Somehow I managed to focus and knowing that, for the time being, I was stuck with the situation as it was, I tried to explain my anger as politely as I was able.  “My mother isn't able to get herself to the dining room; the bathroom; or even out of bed, that’s why she’s here.  I also don’t understand why you would just assume she didn't want to go to the dining room, or what you thought she was going to eat in her room.”  I was rewarded with a blank stare and a “sorry again” before I turned and headed towards the now closed dining room where my mother was sitting all alone waiting for them to find something for her to eat.

Mom was fighting the tears as she explained that since she was late getting there she would have to settle for whatever they had left.  I knew it wasn't because she was getting chef’s choice that mom was
upset.  I also knew it wasn't because she hates to eat alone, which she does.  There was a lot more at play here.  Mom was scared that we had made the wrong decision in bringing her here; I shared her fears, but kept them to myself.  I tried to console her by reminding her that she hadn't been there very long and I was certain things would smooth out, I tried to stay positive.  “They just have to get to know you”, I was trying to convince myself as much as I was mom.

I sat with mom as she picked at something unidentifiable on her plate.  Mom hadn't had her food for
more than 5 minutes when that same aide wandered back through the dining room; “You’re still here?” she barely looked at us as she walked through tapping on her cell phone.  A half hour later I wheeled mom back to her room and helped her get ready for bed.  Since I knew mom was suppose to call before getting up, I pressed the call button and after waiting nearly fifteen minutes, I continued helping mom with her nightly routine.

After her teeth were brushed, her face was washed and her face cream applied, we waited for someone to come help her up to the bathroom and into bed........and we waited.  I pushed the button again and we waited......and waited.  Finally I decided that I would just do it myself.  When mom was finished with the bathroom, I helped her in to her bed and made her as comfortable as possible.

The next thing I knew I was being scolded by the nurse for getting mom up without calling for help.  "But, we did call.  No one came", I countered.  "Here's your pills", the nurse handed mom the cup full of pills and glared at me and said something to the effect of, "she's not the only patient we have".  "I have to watch you take them", the nurse said as a way to hurry mom.  Mom smiled condescendingly and asked, "Could I have some water, please"?  The nurse huffed out of the room, presumable for water, and we waited......and waited.  You think there might be a pattern here?

This was going to be a long three weeks! 


Anonymous said...

And the facilities still wonder why people fear them!

healthcare hostages said...


Anita Scott said...

It seriously still infuriates me just reading about it again! Makes me want to cuss! >:[ Love you sister!

Tanya said...

I wish I could say that this story surprises me.

healthcare hostages said...

Why do you think it takes me so long to write it?!

healthcare hostages said...

I wish you could too! ;(