Monday, April 25, 2016

Mom's Back In Hospital

     Posting may be light.

     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.

     And waited.

     And waited.

     She sat herself up on the edge of the bed and rang again.

     And waited.

     And waited.

     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 nitwits nurses and helpers at the retirement center had wrapped her head in gauze, moving her head and neck in the process.

     '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.


B said...

I hate attorneys.

Having said that, if you can prove the timeline and actions (I don't doubt you, but proving it might be an issue) then you might have actionable stuff here.

I hope your mom is better soon.

Heroditus Huxley said...

I would have been incapable of avoiding four letter words in discussing something like this.

You have my full sympathy and admiration for dealing with this in the level-headed manner you have so far, and my hopes for a quick and as pain-free as possible recovery for your mother.

Guffaw in AZ said...

You and your Mom are tough.
And principled.

Hang in there!


rickn8or said...

You take care of Mom X; the rest of us will keep the world turning. Blasphemous as it sounds, sometimes blogging must take a back seat. Good thoughts your way you and Mom.

I can fully understand Mom's actions though; following my surgery, it was a total surprise to me that I wasn't allowed to do transfers unsupervised.

But what B said also. On all three counts.

Countglockula said...

Bobbi, document, document,document and then you, and your sibs, have a closed-door face to face with the director of the facility and/or owners. This is most definitely actionable, and not only Mom, but all the other residents are at risk if this is an example of their 'care'.

I worked tech support in the nursing home business for fifteen years before retiring and I guarantee that if anything like this happened in our five facilities, the owners would immediately step in and heads would roll. I saw it enough, and one strike was usually enough to sent a nurse out the door.

I hope your Mom heals nicely and soon. You may want to shop for a new facility once she is on her feet again.


Ambulance Driver said...

Sounds like the nursing home needs to have the fear of a lawsuit put into them.

On the fire department immediately immobilizing your mom on a board, it's more likely that they cause harm than prevent it by doing that.

Yes, even with cracked cervical vertebrae.

Our understanding of the effectiveness and potential harm of prehospital spinal immobilization has changed dramatically in the past few years.

Here's hoping for a speedy and uneventful recovery for Mom X.

Comrade Misfit said...

I'm also thinking that a call to the state regulators might be in order.

I hope your mom recovers.

EBM (whose mother is also in "hospital lite" at her retirement place).

Jeffrey Smith said...

If finding another retirement home is feasible, I would seriously consider that...twice is two times too many.

Having her at home with live in aides (meaning 24/7) will be emotionally exhausting for whichever of you three siblings ends up hosting her. I know that from experience: so I won't actually suggest it, but....

But may she have a quick recovery.

OldTexan said...

I am so sorry to hear about your mom. Take care of yourself as you take care of her.

Roberta X, remotely said...

Jeffrey: none of us has the room.

Roberta X, remotely said...

AD: I may have been misinformed. They did put her in a neck immobilizer. And the ER doc approved of it.

Merle said...

Best wishes to your Mom for a speedy and complete recovery.

Don't let those incompetent SOBs get away with it; many other patients are at risk too!


RandyGC said...

Don't mind us. Take care of business and we'll be here when you get back.

Here's hoping for a speedy recovery for your mom.

And I agree with doing something (be it lawyer, call to a state agency, whatever) to put the slap down on the staff of that place.

The fact that none of them have made a trip to the ER shows admirable restraint on your part. (no, I wouldn't do a beat down myself under those circumstances, but it would take restraint, and I would amuse myself with images of how much better certain people would look in a body cast)

Old NFO said...

Do what you have to. And DON'T be polite about it, this sounds actionable. Thoughts and prayers for her quick recovery!

Jay Bee said...

Based on your reports, some head biting is definitely in order. Do what you need to do.

Best of luck to you and Mom X.

Hat Trick said...

Best wishes to your mom for a speedy recovery.

I 2nd Raz's suggestion for a sitdown with the facility director and/or owners. Next step get a lawyer involved.

Boyd said...

My mother lived in a nursing home (due to brain tumors) from roughly age 40 until she passed away at age 44. I bring this to mind because my father was seemingly always at her side, and there was one evening when he noticed that the collection vessel for her suction device was full, and it was needed to clear her airway and such so she could, you know, breathe.

He went and told the charge nurse about the bottle needing to be emptied, and returned to my mother's room. After much longer than it should have taken to get the bottle emptied, he returned to the charge nurse and emphasized my mother's need to have that bottle emptied. I don't know how many times this sequence occurred (not many, knowing my father), but when he went to find the charge nurse and discovered her with her head down on her desk taking a nap, he was done.

This being a small town in Texas in the 1960s, he had the home phone number of the owner of the nursing home, which he used, and emphasized his displeasure with the continued employment of the charge nurse. At midnight.

Within a few short minutes, the universe shifted, especially that of the charge nurse.

In the words of our great (ahem) 42nd President, I feel your pain.

JohninMd.(HELP?!??) said...

I suggest irons, in a very HOT fire, for liberal application to feet of said "nursing" home personnel. Why is a little basic competence so much to ask? Give em Hell, Roberta.

Ambulance Driver said...

Soft cervical collar would have been entirely appropriate.

Hope she recovers soon.