The day dawned bright and early at 7:15 a.m. I pressed the call bell to ask for my lightbox but there was no point. This is James Square nursing home where they do not answer call bells from 7:00 a.m. until after 7:45 a.m. Need pain medication? Desperate to go to the bathroom? Hungry for breakfast? Forget about it. You will not receive any care for 45 minutes.
Except things might be changing. A week ago, the unit nurse manager went out on leave with a recurrence of cancer. Kate Duda was a fine person and a good nurse and all the rest of us fine-good people were stricken when we heard that she was gone. If you know her, please send her our best wishes for a good recovery, and our thanks for the job she did here.
Kate’s withdrawal was followed by several days of utter chaos, but by Friday Roz Richardson had become the temporary new unit manager. Roz has been a nursing supervisor for seven years, and is a no-nonsense, take-charge manager. I called her and said that I had been trying to get pain medicine since quarter past the hour. Roz said, “I’m gonna kill someone. You’ve been waiting half an hour for pain meds.”
A recent story has been going around about Kate. She had to order one of her aides to float to another unit. The aide responded by cursing Kate, and then refusing to take the assignment. Instead, the aide called Helen Norine, the administrator, at home and woke her up to protest. Norine backed the aide and told her she didn’t have to take the assignment. What should have happened was that Kate should have fired the aide on the spot. Except Norine wouldn’t permit it.
So how does an administrator expect a middle-management staffer to do her job if she knows that the boss won’t back her up? And what is the relevance that Kate Duda was an old white woman, Helen Norine was a middle-aged white woman, and the aide was a young black woman? There are too many young black females working as aides who think they can say and do anything they want to.
They have just met Roz, who is a middle-aged black female who has the education and experience to call the shots. We had a long talk this morning. I looked in her eyes and saw a woman who isn’t going to be pushed around. Last week she had a nurse getting weights on all the patients, which hadn’t been done for weeks. Today, another nurse was doing skin checks on patients, which hadn’t been done in the six months I’ve been here.
Meanwhile, down in a conference room off the lobby, management has hired a team for a month to work on the response to the NYS Dept. of Health’s (DOH) “Statement of Deficiencies.” The Statement came from DOH’s inspection in October 2015. The listed deficiencies ran to about 125 pages.
Meanwhile, last week Administer Helen Norine, who has been here about fifteen years, announced that she is leaving on February 5—jumped, fell or was pushed not stated. Also leaving on Feb. 5 is an aide from 3 South who cares only for the money and nothing for the patients. She is going to Loretto, where bad James Square aides go. When her name came up this morning in the conversation with Roz, Roz gave me a flat stare that said louder than words that she already had that particular aide up and running on her shit list.
A nurse from last night also got the same flat stare from Roz. At 7:20 p.m. I pushed the call bell and asked the aide for two hydrocodone—some serious pain meds. I was hurting. According to Kate, nurses are to administer pain meds within five or ten minutes of receiving the request. I waited 10 minutes then called the aide and placed a second request. Still nothing. At 7:45 p.m. I called the 3 South supervisor, Robin, and asked for the pain meds and to file a complaint about an aide earlier in the evening. Robin said she had two patients ahead of me before she could take the complaint, but would immediately call the 3 South nursing station to get me the hydrocodone.
It didn’t happen.
At 8:00 p.m., I called back and asked for Robin. Instead, I got Pauline, a nursing supervisor from another floor. She said the med nurse (who didn’t give me my medicine) was standing right next to her. Ten minutes later, Pauline walked into my room with the medicine—only 50 minutes after I asked for it. Imagine your husband laying on the couch moaning and waiting 50 minutes for you to bring him pain medicine.