ON A PERSONAL NOTE/By Maramis
Regarding last week’s column:
Last week, I started to write about how things actually are in some hospitals today, both regarding the treatment of patients and what is being said, either to the patient or about the patient. Since I have not been inside a hospital as a patient myself or visited any patient in several years, it may come as a surprise to others just as it did to me that certain kinds of behaviors or lack of common decency and caring, from the patient’s standpoint, is experienced at the hands of some of the nursing care staff and might even be part of hospital policy without the hospital being aware of what it is doing to the patient’s mental health. I have not been able to get in touch with the patient who was going to tell me about “Something a patient in a hospital would never want to hear,” but that is still to come as soon as he is well enough to get in touch with me again.
There are many things we don’t know about or don’t ever bother learning about or investigating in any way until either we are personally involved in them or someone we know has become involved in them. Therefore, we either stay ignorant, or just let them be someone else’s business and don’t give them a thought. What goes on in hospitals may be one of those things.
Chances are, except for visiting our friends and family members who have become hospitalized, we all try to stay out of hospitals, as in becoming a patient ourselves. And except for the occasional repair of a broken leg or such, we might have been doing a good job. But these days, meaning these very days, during COVID-19, when people find themselves needing to be in a hospital, they fear that the very reason for their being there will expose them to something more serious than what they came in for.
Of course, in addition to our not wanting to be a patient in today’s COVID-19 world, if we were hospitalized, no one would be allowed to come to visit us, or be part of our in- or out-processing at the hospital. Up to now (meaning up to the pandemic’s rules for safety), we usually accompanied a family member or friend into and out of the hospital. I know I always did. But today, we must trust the hospital personnel to give our loved one that touch of care that we would give, and — needless to say — keep them safe.
Today you will read the account of one patient, a friend of mine, who did not receive the degree of care and safety that every patient wants and needs. One wonders if this is more common than just an isolated episode now and then. But it bears addressing: Patients are people and people matter! We cannot accept shoddy nursing care, especially at a time when we need it most.
To all the nursing personnel out there — from the aides, to the LPNs, to the RNs, to the practitioners — you must first remember to do no harm, yet at the same time, you must show you genuinely care about your patient’s well being. See how those two requirements were fulfilled — or not — in her case: One patient’s discharge experience “I am writing about an injury I received at the hands of my nurse at St Rose Hospital, Sienna Campus. I was admitted on Monday, July 27, for a complete hip replacement.
I was being discharged on Wednesday, July 29th. What people need to understand is that I was already walking well enough with a walker the evening of my surgery and for the next two days.
On the day of my discharge, I was aware that I had a lot of take-home items to carry with me that I needed to bring down to the car waiting to take me home. I discussed this fact with the nurse and asked her if there was enough room on the back of the wheelchair for those items. I noted that the chair was not an ordinary wheelchair; it was much larger and just looked strange to me. When I asked about it she said it was a new type of wheelchair that the whole hospital was using. I questioned that she had no way to hang my sleep apnea machine on the back of the wheelchair. She had put my clothing, my walker, and some miscellaneous stuff next to me on the seat of the wheelchair, while she put my backpack on my lap. With hardly a word in response to my comment about my concern over the chair, she started wheeling me down the hall at a fast pace. I was already feeling quite nervous.
As she was pushing me down the hallway, the chair suddenly stopped, as if someone hit the brake out of the blue. A screaming pain shot through my leg as if my leg was being jammed into my pelvis. I screamed and screamed and said out loud “Please, don’t start up again; oh my God!” I was bending over my body and holding myself; I heard nurses coming out from the nurses’ station.
One nurse yelled, “What happened? How did she get hurt?” But I never heard another word from any of the nurses nor from my own nurse. I started to move again and I thought I was talking to my nurse (the one who had started to wheel me down the hall at a very fast pace) about what had just happened to me. But it was not my nurse pushing me now, it was a nurse’s aide who was behind me, and she told me that my nurse had left.
Left!!?? Without checking on me to see how badly I was hurt? She left me with a nurse’s aide who apparently didn’t know a thing about that episode without telling her — or me — anything???!!! When that wheelchair stopped abruptly, it caused me excruciatingly sharp pain.
Now I found out that she, a nurse I had automatically trusted to take me safely out to my car, just up and left me, without a word of concern for what just happened and without even telling me that she was leaving! I was just supposed to leave with no incident/accident report? (What I later found out from someone else about those wheelchairs is that the handle to push the chair and the handle for the brake were right together, one atop the other.)
As the nurse’s aide now wheeled me out to the car, I was brought right up next to the vehicle. I had to be helped in by three people, one of whom was the very helpful valet who lifted me at my arms, the nurse’s aide who took one of my legs, and one of the several people who came to help me home, lifting up the other leg; they had to literally place me into the vehicle. And I couldn’t walk at all when I got home.
Maramis wants me to tell more to this story. I am waiting for a copy of the nurse’s report before I continue”.
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Maramis Choufani is the Managing Editor of the Las Vegas Tribune. She writes a weekly column in this newspaper. To contact Maramis, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.