Mom's been in the "hospital-lite" wing of her retirement home for the last few weeks, recovering from pneumonia. Getting her strength back is a long, hard slog but she's been making steady progress. Still pretty weak. Saturday, Mom was feeling a bit better, and called me. We had a nice chat.
Not too long after we rang off, she decided to move from her fancy hospital bed to the powered wheelchair. That's a good thing; she was just about bedfast for awhile. She rang for help and waited.
She sat herself up on the edge of the bed and rang again.
Mom is, as readers will have noticed, as independent and proud as a new mama cat. She had been talking to me about needing to practice "transfers," the tricky art of moving from bed to wheelchair, from wheelchair to plain chair, and had she not just sat up by herself? She had. The chair was close, and were the wheels not locked?
--I don't know. Mom's memory cuts out as she grasps the chair. What we do know is that her sister found her on the floor of her room some time later, with a nasty cut on her forehead and a purple-green set of broken fingers on her left hand, pinky, ring and social, all three of the minor players. Something had gone very wrong with the transfer.
The retirement home rendered ineffective first aid (mostly wrapping her head in gauze) and, as near as I can tell, faffed about waiting for the sole and only Nurse-Practicioner on duty to show up and make a decision. They didn't call family members, despite all three of us being available; I'm on 24-hour call and my two sibs are never far from their telephones. Fat lot of good that did!
My aunt called my sister, my sister called the retirement home, and would you not know it, "they were just about to call" her. Over an hour had elapsed since Mom was found; possibly two since it happened. Upon arrival, the "highly trained staff" had still not called 911. They told her even the ambulance would take a half-hour to get there. Funny, it arrived 10 - 15 minutes after my sister called.
EMS up that way is run by the fire department and they're serious about it; on finding a elderly person having fallen, she was in a neck stabilizer and on a backboard first thing.
Ambulance, nearest hospital, ER; stitches (rather a lot of them), temporary cast, a head-to-toe check and then Medical Imaging. ER Doc wasn't so happy with what he saw; after a chat with his more-than-peers, Mom was whisked off to the Level One Trauma Center hospital a few miles away, where they did more imaging.
She'd cracked two vertebra, the very first two. She'd broken some facial bones. And those well-meaning
'Scuse me while I take a moment to seethe. Okay, it was a deep cut, and if you thought nothing bled like a scalp wound, try it while on blood thinners. "Stop the bleeding" is high on the list when rendering first aid. But so is "don't move a suspected neck injury," and an elderly person face-planting off a hospital bed is pretty much textbook neck injury territory. They can't ram even one of their "highly trained staff" through a 90-day-wonder not-quite paramedic course? The tuition is tax-deductible! (Cripes, forget that, could they not hire a few former Boy and/or Girl Scouts?)
Mom's surprisingly chipper, set up with a long (and removable, oh, this fine future) support cast for her fingers, with a fancy neck collar, the aforementioned stitches, etc. etc. etc. But she's down to one hand for the short term, and she's not going to be doing any fancy dance steps for the next three months.
Posting here may be light. My sibs and I have got a retirement-home management to browbeat, at minimum. --There are pretty strict limits on what nurses at the various levels of qualification can and cannot do (it's way worse than Girl Scouts or Freemasons, worse than the military, and you can thank our litigious society for much of it); but this crew flunked basic First Aid and followed up by flunking basic Call The Family. If they can't call 9-1-1 on their own hook, well, the workaround is to call me or my siblings and either we'll call, or we will authorize them calling in our stead; and if the place they shirk for wants a signed okay in the files for CYA, they can have that, too.
This is Strike Two, the second time Mom's had a problem and not received timely or proper response. Weekends appear to a very weak link; weekends and slackers trying to avoid actually dealing with what's right in front of them. I can't fix them, but I can hold their bosses feet to the fire and I will.
Meantime, Mom needs visited. And sometimes help eating. At least she's right-handed and the broken fingers are on her left hand, but it's cold, cold comfort for a nasty set of preventable injuries.