When Carol’s acute care was finished at Rome (NY) Hospital, she was not allowed to transfer to their rehabilitation unit because she had an outstanding bill from a previous hospitalization. She and her husband had Medicare but it hadn’t covered her whole bill. Their daughter had checked and learned that they would have to pay out-of-pocket for Medicaid, which wouldn’t leave them enough to live on.
So Carol was transferred to Rome Center for Rehabilitation, formerly Stonehedge Nursing Home. Carol has six children and the one who is a nurse was so offended by the “care” her mother received that on Monday she’d called the NYS Nursing Home Complaint hotline (1-888-201-4563). She did not receive a live response by the nurses who staff the line because most of them had been moved downstate to deal with nursing home problems consequent to Super-storm Sandy.
According to Carol, she’d gotten a contagious infection (according to her husband, it was “in her poop”) while in Rome Center. She’d previously had a colonostomy and, at Rome Center, they’d removed her ostomy bag so she was now lying on the open ostomy wound. It hurt—a lot.
On Tuesday, I, with my immune dysfunction, was admitted as Carol’s roommate. Staff were required to wear gowns and gloves when treating her. I was not protected in any way. The night shift did not wear gowns. The day shift wore gowns but moved back and forth between her and me, thus protecting themselves but not me. Because of my intolerance to medication, I could not be treated if I caught the infection. My request for a room change was denied.
I was admitted at two o’clock at the end of the nursing shift. Actually, five people were admitted then, so I never got a comprehensive introduction to my room, the equipment or the programs. I had to pick up pieces of information from whomever I could whenever I could. The social worker would not bring me the formal admission packet until the next day.
- There was supposed to be television and telephone in my room. There was no telephone and the television could not be turned up loud enough to be heard—and it was Election Day. I could not see the screen because of poor eyesight; neither could I hear the audio. Was my health care to be gutted by Romney or continued by Obama?
- Internet access only was available in the dining room but nobody could tell me how to hook up to it.
- There were pieces of food on the floor and smeared on the wastebasket when I arrived. They were still there when I left a day later.
- There was a reddish-brown smear on the sink. Whether it was blood, feces or tomato juice I could not tell, so I was afraid to brush my teeth.
- The light over the bed worked sometimes but not other times.
- There was no proper place on the bed to hook my catheter bag; they just jammed it onto the side of the bed, where it got stuck and I couldn’t free it, thereby trapping me in bed.
I discovered that for everything I needed and everything I asked, the basic answer was “no.” Over the weekend, while in St. Joseph’s Hospital, my vision had suddenly become very bad; I only could see with great difficulty. The hospital had no eye doctor on staff so I was told to see a doctor after I got out of the hospital. At Rome Center, I told every ranking staff member with whom I came in contact that I needed an eye doctor. I was told that couldn’t be done. At best, they might get me in with their eye doctor in week.
That would take a doctor’s order—and the doctor would not be around to see me for a day or two.
In hospital, I was getting Apidra insulin injections after meals. I incorrectly thought I was supposed to continue to get them. Rome Center did not stock Apidra, would not call their doctor to get an order, and would not accept an order from my doctor. When they did get Apidra the next day, the nurse tried to administer it incorrectly. The dose is supposed to be based on blood sugar before a meal and how much you eat; the nurse tried to administer it before I’d eaten.
I have a rare kidney disease that causes me to put out extraordinary amounts of urine. Before hospitalization, my 24-hour urine was 8.8 liters; normal is two liters. Because I pee a lot, I have to drink a lot to keep from dehydrating. At Rome Center, they wouldn’t give me enough to drink. At home, I keep two liters of water by my bed; in hospital I had a pitcher of water at bedside. At Rome Center, they said they didn’t have anything like that; I only got a Styrofoam cupful of water. Within 24-hours my lips were dry and cracked from dehydration.
They were serving me two cups of juice at every meal. I’m diabetic. What lunatic thought pouring sugar-water into me was a good idea? Because of the kidney disease, I can’t have caffeine. They sent me regular coffee. I needed two cups of decafe; I got one.
I asked about getting a shower and was told I would only get one a week. They didn’t have enough staff to bathe patients any more frequently.
News flash: If you don’t have enough staff to take proper care of patients, then stop admitting patients.
Oh, it’s about the money, isn’t it?
During the night, I was repeatedly awakened by a nurse talking loudly to my roommate. There was no indication that Carol had any hearing deficit; some nurses just are idiots. I was supposed to be cared for, too, and caring for me meant keeping your voice down so I wasn’t awakened. When I challenged the nurse, she snapped, “You’re in a nursing home now!” So? That means I am no longer deserving of respect? (To be continued)