Healthcare is failing our seniors...and my mom is proof of that.

To quote Peter Griffin from "Family Guy" ..."You know what really grinds my gears.."

What "grinds my gears" is how, generally, this society has become a "disposable society."

I'll explain what I mean:

So with everything that has been going on with my mom, I've had very little time to think about anything other than making sure my mom is getting the best care possible and that her day-to-day errands are taken care of.  I've been running to her townhome to make sure her pets are fed, her mail is read,  her utility bills are paid as well as trying to find some time to put some menial effort into making myself presentable.

Yet, during my many trips to various places, I've had time to think about my mother's treatment at the hospital that she was at before St. Margaret Mercy's in Dyer, Indiana.

You see, my mom is 65 years old. She receives a little social security (but if you're familiar with social security, you understand that it's really not much at all) and she has a part-time job at a hardware store to supplement her income. Which again, isn't much. As you might have guessed already, my mother doesn't have any "real" insurance. She's eligible for Medicare and Medicaid...but that's about it.

For so long she refused to see a doctor simply because she "couldn't afford it." I don't know, maybe if she had seen a doctor earlier, she might have been able to avoid the issues that she's going through now.

Regardless of which, while I truly appreciate how nice the nurses were at the first hospital she was admitted to, I am left a tad aggravated by the poor bedside manner of the medical staff.

My mother underwent a bone marrow biopsy this past Friday, and a few hours after, they sent her home. Unable to walk, unable to lift a arm to brush her own hair. She was far too weak. Like I said in an earlier post, my brother initially tried to take her to her own home, but with our mom in the state she was in, there was no way she could have navigated stairs.

Saturday she was completely helpless...only able to move her right arm in order to feed herself. By Sunday, my brother and I knew we were out of our league with what my mother was facing. We could do our best to make sure that her basic needs were addressed, but beyond that, we were clueless.

We decided to ask the medical staff at the hospital that she was released from for help...or at least for some basic information as to where we could get help to care for our mother.

I don't want to generalize on how this hospital handled my mom or the whole situation, as I said before, the nursing staff was very kind and the ladies at the information desk were extremely helpful. But, what continues to bother me and what I'm compelled to "rant" about is how the doctors handled the situation.

First of all, if my brother and I didn't find someone Sunday, we wouldn't have known anything about what was going on with my mother. The doctor seemed annoyed by our questions and stated that he had told my mother about it.

Really? Okay...well, she's been on pain medication for the past week, buddy. Try telling her LUCID children, please and thank you. Also, if we didn't ask, we would have never known that she was scheduled to see an oncologist. Which, by the way, she actually wasn't scheduled...I had to do that.

Secondly, when we asked about getting help the doctor plainly said to us, "What would be the difference between your mother lying on your couch and taking pain pills and your mother lying in a hospital bed taking pain pills?" My brother and I were incredulous. We looked at each other and then at the doctor, "The difference is she would have qualified medical care watching her around the clock. She can't take care of herself and we both work! She needs 24 hour care right now."

The doctor was unfazed and told us that "home care" was ordered for my mother, but the paperwork wouldn't go through until that Monday...and even then, the nurse would only see her for one hour a day.

Okay, so while I understand the whole idea of "what's the difference between here and there" I have to say in retrospect that the "difference" ended up being a broken femur. THAT is the difference.

Plus, the first hospital, after X-rays and MRI scans, failed to recognize that my mother had a hairline fracture in her arm. They told her that nothing was wrong with it in spite of my mom constantly complaining of severe pain in that limb. Yet, after only one round of X-rays at St. Margaret's...the medical team recognized quite quickly that she indeed, had a broken arm.

Again, I'm not trying to throw the entire hospital under the bus. In fact, the ladies at the front desk said plainly that the real problem is the insurance companies. These companies simply don't want to pay for extended patient stays. But is it entirely the fault of insurance companies? The doctor's bedside manner in how he addressed my brother and I truly left a lot to be desired.

Alarmingly though, a lot of patients that are essentially "kicked out" of the hospital are our seniors and elderly who NEED more time to recover from invasive hospital procedures. In fact, what I learned recently, is that Medicare and Medicaid are trying to "crack-down" on readmission. Well, in my humble opinion, if the hospital took the time to truly communicate to the patient and the patient's family of what was done and what is expected when the patient is discharged, readmission would lower significantly.

I just can't help but to think: what if my mom didn't have kids? Would the hospital have simply called her a cab and sent her home? What if she couldn't get out of the cab? Would the cab driver have no choice but to return her to the hospital or, would he be forced to just drive her around until that Monday?

What of all the seniors and the elderly that really don't have anyone? How are they treated? Are they allowed the same kind of dignity and respect that the rest of us are afforded? What about all those who languish away in nursing homes and no one comes to visit them, their only friends being the nursing staff at those establishments?

I think all of us, as a society, need to do a better job of taking care of those who came before us. They are our history. They lived it, they've seen it first hand. When did we start overlooking our seniors?

It breaks my heart.

Somehow, someway, we need to take better care of our elders...and treat them with the dignity they deserve.


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  • Oh, man. My heart goes out for you. Some doctors are the absolute worse at dealing with patients beyond examination and medicating and operating. Many years ago, at one of the two top hospitals in the city, an oncologist just walked into my father's room (he had lung cancer) and told him all the medications would fail, he knew that, right? My father was 55. I could see a visible change in him right then. I was speechless, as was he. At the very end, when my father was comatose, we asked that he be given more morphine. We were told it was not a good idea, as he could become addicted. He was DYING, days away from death and in horrible pain.

    What is needed for anybody who has a serious medical malady is for them to have strong advocates. You must question the doctors, the nurses, the timing of the medications, the output of urine, you name it. You must insist on answers and not be put off by busy staffs.

    At that same hospital, on nurse looked at my mother, who was slipping in and out of consciousness and looked at my sister and me, and said, "How much longer do you want this to go on?" Again, speechless. She should have a mother. Most of the staff was exceptional and did their best.

    For those who are alone when sickness comes, it is quite frightening. I know.

    My prayers for you and for your mother. Never give up hope and fight, fight, fight!

  • In reply to Richard Davis:

    That doctor was the absolute worst in my opinion. When my brother and I asked about our mom, he seemed annoyed to "repeat himself" because according to him, he had already told my mom about what was going on. I understand that as a doctor, you can get paid a lot of money, but I think if that's the ONLY reason a person is in the medical profession, then they should find some other lucrative line of work. Healthcare SHOULD be about helping PEOPLE.

  • In reply to Misty Callahan:

    Some doctors are very good, too. I think many people believe that doctors are "in it for the money", and some may be, but that is a declining number, because a lot of the money is just not there in some cases, and the insane paperwork and regulation and insurance companies make matters worse.

    There are some real angels out there. One nurse kept visiting my dying uncle in a hospice on his own time, helping with whatever he could. One of my father's doctors came to his wake and funeral and made a point of telling us how brave he was, and how he wished he could have done more.

    For every louse you will find nine good and dedicated people. It is hard to see this when you are in the midst of an emergency, and you are.

    I hope you find some of your own angels.

  • I know exactly where you're coming from. My mom was living in a nursing home because she had Alzheimer's Disease and was in the end stages. The nursing home did some routine blood tests and decided she needed to go to the hospital. They called my sister who in turn called me to go to the hospital to meet my mother. Problem #1 was that the nursing home sent my mother alone to the hospital. They knew we were coming, the situation did not appear to be life-threatening and yet they didn't send someone with her or wait until we could get there first to send her. Problem #2 was that the emergency room doctor (who was told she had Alzheimer's) consulted with my mother as to what her treatment should be. When I got to the hospital (about 30 minutes after the initial call), the doctor started yelling at me "Why didn't you tell us she was in kidney failure?" Um - because we didn't know she was in kidney failure! He then proceeds to tell me that he was preparing her for dialysis. I asked him who gave him permission (since I knew my mother's wishes were NEVER to go on dialysis due to family history) and he tells me "She did". I told him I wanted to talk to a kidney specialist, who thankfully understood that doing dialysis on her in the condition she was in was pointless. The emergency room doctor made me feel like I just wqnted to see my mother suffer - which couldn't have been further from the truth. For all their education, some doctor's seriously have no common sense and a real lack of compassion. I'm sorry your mother is having trouble right now and wish you all the best.

  • Misty, I'm sorry to hear how this particular doctor is treating your mother and your family. I do believe that many doctors could work on their people skills as that is who they are taking care of. I also agree with your statement that we should be taking care of the generation who came before us. I'm not sure how things work, but is there any way to be taken off this particular doctor's service? Can you request another physician? My prayers are with you and your family.

  • Just now found this post. Sounds a lot like what we've gone through with my parents. This goes beyond blaming the government and insurance companies, which do deserve some of the blame. A lot of the medical staff just doesn't care and are pretty sloppy.

  • In reply to Gary Lucido:

    I know it is easy to blame doctors and medical staff for mistreatment, but I think their situations have to be considered. I have been through the medical grinder with both parents and another close relative. For close to 20 years I was involved in medical messes and stresses, including my own, which I partly blame on the care taking responsibilities.

    Medical providers are facing demands from government and from insurance providers. In addition, many doctors are now specialists, and see only a lung or a brain or whatever body part they studied. They do not treat the entire person, which means, of course, how they talk to a seriously ill patient. For them, the brain and emotions are not connected to the diseased or broken part. This is one of the real tragedies of the medical system today.

  • Whatever you have provided for us in these posts really appreciative. Medical Negligence

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