Where Were You When Your Mother Died?

I met your mom a few short weeks ago. She said she had just moved from a hoity-toity place that she really liked but she needed even more care.
 
Your mom asked me how many children I had. When I told her I was single and did not have any children, she said,”I’m sorry.” I  asked why she said that, and she replied, “Because I think you’ve missed a lot.”

I saw the photo collage on her door with your pictures and your kids’ pictures. Lots of faces on there.

Where were you when your mom was wheeled into the nursing home dining room wearing her purse  awkwardly around her neck?  (Old habits die hard.)

Where were you the last night I saw her when she cried out in pain as the nurse very gently rolled her to the dinner table? Where were you a few minutes later as she begged me to get  her a glass of water?

I  really wanted to  help her.  I could see how much pain she was in. I always said hi to her because she was one of the ladies who knew where she was and still had her mind. But I couldn’t get her  any water because  I didn’t know her medical condition.

Your mother was bleeding onto her terrycloth bib. It was so very sad to hear her helpless pleas fall on deaf ears. The  aides weres busy with other residents.  The nurse was off to another task.  I tried to get someone to respond. I think it was a weekend evening — you never know what to expect on on those shifts.

A couple of days ago I noticed your Mom’s nameplate was taken down. I checked the resident list and her name was gone. Your picture hung on the door for a few more days. I see the door is still closed today…I guess you haven’t had a chance to empty the room yet. Probably busy making  funeral plans.

Your mother must have loved you very much. I’m sure she was proud of you.  I saw your name in her obituary. Apparently she was pretty sick when you moved her there last month.

Where were you when your mother died?

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HIPPA Laws Be Damned

There’s a new hospital opening in town, and this weekend they are showing it off to the public with a big open house. So many RNs running around the place, I was wondering who’s taking care of the patients at the old place, which hasn’t closed yet.

In the fancy, shmansy emergency room area, there’s a big screen on the wall — across from the nurse’s station — listing each emergency room number, patient’s initials, patient’s age, medical reason the patient is visiting today. Why don’t they just put the person’s weight up there too?

And let’s get an audio version too…let’s not overlooked the rights of the hearing impaired to snoop around while hanging out in the emergency room.

Geeezzzz…who thought of this? Have they ever heard of HIPPA laws?

Just about every time someone from our family has been in this hospital’s emergency room, we’ve run into someone else we knew. Now we can just walk down the hall and check out the person’s age and condition. How convenient!

If someone looks vaguely familiar, the age and initials may be just  the information needed to jog your memory.

Heck why don’t they just put a big lighted billboard out front — like the casinos have — and announce the surgeries being performed today, arrival of new babies, shooting victim’s names, etc. Post the newborns’ photos! Dr. Jones – now appearing in the operating room!

Ok, so there’s a private outtake (or whatever they call it) room. That’s nice. But this big screen on the wall is taking technology a bit too far. I would think a small screen behind the nurse’s station would make more sense. BTW..what about those nurses over 50…they probably won’t be able to see the screen from across the room anyway.

The scary thing is…the RN on the tour didn’t think there was anything wrong with having a big screen listing patient’s info.

Have you every been to a bar or restaurant and stared across the room at a TV screen –even though you couldn’t hear the show? Our eyes have been conditioned to look at TV screens — that’s why my dentist was playing some fake talk show TV in his waiting room the other day with an interview promoting teeth whitening or something. Cha ching! Cha ching!

In case you are wondering, this is the new St. Clare Hospital in Fenton, Mo. Maybe some of their officials will visit my blog. I can always use new readers.

No Sense of Urgency at the Nursing Home or Dogs Are More Fun Than Old People

When I get old, I hope someone leaves me at the kennel instead of a nursing home. I think I’ll get better care.

Nearly every day I turn on the news and someone had rescued a bunch of neglected dogs and lots of people come forward to feed them and nurse them back to good health. If there’s a flood, a power outage, a hurricane, an economic crisis — big pleas go out for help to take care of the misplaced pets.

Friday night,  I go to mom’s nursing home and they are serving peanut butter. Hey –don’t you guys know the big recall of peanut butter included shipments to nursing homes? What reassurance do we have that the kitchen has checked out the source? My mom’s “meal preference” says “no chicken.” Yet she was given a chicken sandwich on Thursday night.

At the kennel, dogs are walked and played with (for an extra fee), fed, oooed and aawed over.

I bet the pet food with peanut butter has been pitched at the kennel.

At the nursing home, patients are talked at:

“How’s your dinner?”

“What?”

“Good, I’m glad  you liked it.”

Mom can’t pull chicken off the bone when you serve the drummies. It’s not that she doesn’t like chicken. But  you’re not listening anyway — as you serve her chicken soup, chicken sandwiches, etc.

“Your mom keeps crying. We need to do something about her meds.”

Yea…like get ’em down her throat. Thursday nite, they plopped out on the floor. Friday — I wheeled her down to your station and showed you she had a full mouth of meds sitting on her tongue. I got ’em down her throat. ICE CREAM works better than apple sauce. It also takes more than one spoonful. You’re probably not supposed to be crushing all of those meds in the first place. Does anybody read the warnings?

Last night after dinner Mrs. G. is sitting in her room and she tells me she has a new problem.  She just got out of the hospital last week. She  hasn’t had her oxygen all day. Someone’s supposed to come. soon.  I guess her daughter was celebrating Valentine’s Day. She came in the afternoon and the flower arrangement was lovely. She usually comes after dinner. I see the aide and ask about the oxygen. “The nurse is going to take care of that.”

Mrs. G said her eyes are blurry. Eyes need oxygen. It’s even more important as you age. I go home wondering about the connection. I look it up this morning on the Internet. What kind of nurses are these? Who’s training them? Who cares about the elderly?

Give me the life of a dog. It’s gotta be better than this.

Peanut Butter Terrorism

What are we up to– 400 plus products recalled because one greedy business owner looked the other way.

We hear a lot about how the government needs to stay out of the business of doing business. Well this is a perfect example of exactly why government interference is needed in the private sector. People are sick, others are dead – because one company chose to ignore the possibility of salmonella contamination.

What about the ripple effect to the customers of Peanut Corporation of America? And the peanut industry as a whole?

Peanut butter was a big staple in my diet.

Peanut butter on a toasted whole wheat bagel for breakfast.

Peanut butter crackers as a mid-morning snack or on a hike.

Peanut butter and jelly sandwich for lunch or an occasionally dinner.

Peanut butter cups – both on their  own and the mini ones in ice cream.

I bet this stupid company flew the American flag on the holidays, (they added “America” to their name), gave lip service to how much they cared about their employees (I assume they are now out of work) and talked about how wonderful they were as a contributor to the economy, the community, blah, blah, blah.

Keep this in mind. All terrorist don’t look alike. They can high-jack a whole industry when they exhibit greed in favor of a true “corporate conscious.”

Does Your Marketing – and Branding – Suck?

We hear a lot about marketing, branding, blah, blah, blah. As the economy continues to toughen up – small businesses will have to work even harder to attract and retain clients.

Branding is more than just slapping a pretty logo on your product or brochures — then sitting back waiting for customers to beat down your door. Branding is about EVERYTHING you do.

A year ago, as my mother’s health continued to decline, I attended a “senior fair” sponsored by a law office specializing in estate planning. Several vendors had tables and there were a variety of speakers on a wide range of subjects. One of the speakers was from a company offering home health care services at my mother’s senior apartment building. The speaker made some interesting comments, and after she left the podium, I asked if she would be available for questions after the next speaker finished. “Yes, we have a table.”

Another 30 or 45 minutes passed before the other speaker finished, then I went searching for her table and asked the organizers to help me locate her. I guess the opportunity to finish work early on a Friday afternoon was just too big a temptation as she had closed up shop before the event had concluded.

Fast forward to the fall. Since her company was the most highly recommended of the two company’s located at my mom’s apartment building, we had contracted with them to provided morning and evening assistance with dressing and medicine administration.

My mother had a stroke in September, moved to one nursing home and then another in October. Cash flow was a bit of a problem, but I did send a small payment in  October and the balance due in November. The company did not send any statements, make a phone call, etc. –the payments were sent because we knew the money was owed.

Yesterday I received a second copy of the September invoice — not a statement. Attached was a sticky note with a handwritten message that the company had received payments, but we still owed money. The last sentence read “My accountant advised me this would be the last statement sent for this invoice before going to Collections.” The note was not signed.

The  invoice was the type that comes right out of Word, so it has a cookie cutter look to it. That’s fine for a small business. But nobody bothered to make the effort to look professional and turn it into a statement showing the monies received — they just stuck a blue sticky note on it.

Here is my response to the company:

I have received an invoice for  my mother.  There is no email on the invoice, so I am using this one.

Your company is looking for an additional $401.

As you are well aware, Mrs. Mom did not receive services for the full month of September.

According to my records,  your company has been paid  in full for August (including the increase in package) and for all of the days she lived at the apartment building in September up to and including the day of her departure.

The checks sent in October and November were sent not in response to any invoice — but because we knew we had received services and wanted to pay my mother’s account in full for all services ordered and received.Your current invoice clearly shows it was your policy prior to November 1, 2008, for clients to receive refunds when they did not receive services.

FYI – while she was there, some of the services we contracted  for were not performed. For example, I posted a reminder on the bathroom mirror and complained to your staff several times that I had frequently found nasty dirty denture water still sitting in her denture cup at the end of the day — even though all I requested was that it be dumped and rinsed out for just a second or so every morning. Not only that, I counted the denture tablets and they were not being used — no surprise since the same nasty water was still there. Made me wonder if they removed her dentures at all.

Also, there were many nites when I dressed Mom — with no expectation that there would be a refund — although your staff indicated there would be. We did not ask or expect one.

Generally, your employees were very nice and caring.

Instead of chasing ambulances to the hospital seeking additional income for new services — I would suggest you contact your client’s families for feedback while the person is still at the apartment to see if all services are being performed adequately.

In my opinion, the time to conduct your company’s marketing (such as customer satisfaction calls) is when your client is living at the apartment –not when you see an opportunity to make more money when a crisis has occurred. Your visits to see my mom at the hospital came across to me as a sales pitch and it really felt quite inappropriate.

Tell that to your accountant.

(editor’s note – I have removed proper names to protect my mother’s privacy.)

No Holiday at the Senior Apartment

My mother recently moved to a nursing home. I have been emptying out her senior apartment. My brother and I moved all of the furniture a few weeks ago. I was told there was no hurry to get the rest out as it was “too late” for any rent refund.

Yesterday I went to pick up the last load. I had been there several days each week. Last Friday I stopped by to check the mail, Sunday I moved the TV, Monday I checked the mail. Tuesday I checked the mail. Each time I passed by the office, waved at the staff, spoke to office staff last Friday, went into the dining room, etc. I still have the key. They place was not abandoned in any way.

On Thursday night I entered the apartment and found that someone had boxed up the rest of Mom’s stuff, and moved her U.S. mail from the spot I left it. I hadn’t even looked through the mail, but in recent weeks the hospital was sending bills there, etc. Not only that, there was a mysterious hand-written note on one of the pieces of preprinted mail.

Since other family has not been in there, the staff at Holiday Retirement had to have moved the stuff and ….some items are missing. I always checked that the door was locked BEFORE I unlocked it and when I left. This way if someone went in there and left the door unlocked, I knew it wasn’t me.

I’m really pissed that someone there thought they had the right to go in, touch the mail, move the stuff, and steal ANYTHING regardless of the value, before her lease was up. In fact, we were told we owed rent through the 2nd, another 4 days away.

I feel like my rights have been violated. It’s not the value of the items…it’s the fact that no one called and double checked that we were out, etc. before going in there. They didn’t clean that good when she lived there.

Saving For “Retirement” Is Easy Compared To This

We hear a lot from the so-called financial experts about the importance of saving for retirement.
Retirement is easy. You need food, shelter, and clothing. The challenge is to save for long-term illness.

Many of the elderly of our county require a lot of extra care. Many of these people were healthy all of their lives before dementia, Alzheimer’s, or physical ailments arrived on the scene. Not only do they need a lot of personal and medical care, they need help with managing finances, shopping, doing the research on care providers, etc.

Retiring to a sunbelt state is easy. Stepping in to look after the care of an elderly parent…now THAT is the real challenge. And if your family member (parent, aunt, sister, etc.) didn’t earn a lot of money, or did not manage the money, ie save some of it, you are in for some real fun and stress.

You want to give them the best of care, but when money is limited…plus you need to work for a living, you are going to have to make a choice.

A friend recently mentioned an illness with her 60 something single sister who still works, but is addicted to TV shopping shows. Now her sister is worried about high deductibles on her health insurance. My friend said how she spent her money (filling her home with crap from home shopping network) is her business.

My reply: not if you have to take care of her when she’s sick.

America’s Got Talent…But What’s Up With The Convention Coverage?

Ever since I was in high school I’ve watched the political convention. Tonight I’m watching NBC  on broadcast TV — not cable, and at 7 pm Central time a talent show is playing. I figure at 8 pm the convention will come on.

Imagine my surprise when I turned on my computer to check my email and find out Obama already has the nomination. No, that is not the surprise…the surprise is it was not televised live on broadcast TV in prime time. I’m switching the TV between ABC, NBC, and CBS…nothing. I checked TVGuide.com and nothing is scheduled until 8 pm. I see another online news story that says Bill Clinton takes the podium to the tune of of “Don’t Stop Thinking About Tomorrow.”  Quickly I switch the TV channels again and find Bill is on PBS.

Somebody screwed up. Everybody doesn’t have cable TV. Some of us poor Democrats were depending on the wisdom of the national news bureaus to show us history in the making.

Why didn’t the Democratic convention planners delay the nomination until the broadcast stations were live? Don’t they have a TV in the hotel? Didn’t they want to maximize the live exposure/publicity for Obama that is best enjoyed live? Did they forget we vote too…and some of us have not made up our mind and are not that crazy about Obama?

Somebody let us down. Who was it?

Smokers Fair Better At Work

I’m working at a place where we are supposed to clock out for lunch…but not smoke breaks.

So the smokers go outside several times a day for 10 minutes or more each time….while on the clock.

I’m too busy working to count how many times they go out, but I would bet it averages at least four times a day per smoker.  Maybe more. I don’t smoke, so I don’t know much about much time smoking requires. Maybe it’s six times a day and adds up to more than an hour.

I think non-smokers ought to get paid for their lunch hours…without having to eat outside.

Smokers cost companies more in terms of wasted time and higher insurance premiums.  Non-smokers should at least get a free lunch break.

Vote for “None of the Above”

It’s getting closer to political convention time, and I’m tired of looking at the two candidates. The more I hear from both of them…the more I want to just skip the ballot box altogether. I don’t want to help either one of them win.

Maybe I’ll have to vote for Ralph Nader.

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