A glimpse at senior health care through a care givers eyes. Healthcare reform will be worthless if we don't see an attitude change in many providers. Although my story is focused on senior health and Rheumatoid Arthritis, I believe we are all affected.
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…..um….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
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
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?
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Has anyone ever asked YOUR opinion about what should be "reformed" when it comes to healthcare? Well, they have NOW! Can you think of one thing (or 10) that would better our healthcare system?