The Letter

Posted January 26, 2010 by Giftsofdawn
Categories: Healthcare

     I need to tell a story about healthcare of what has and is happening now. Bear with me I feel background is very important to this story and it is from my heart, and it is only my story of my experience, strength and hope or lack there of.

     In March of 2004, my mother was admitted to Catholic Hospital and as a family we were so impressed by the loving care she received, round the clock even the manager took the time to come and see us.  My sister and I were there one of us at all times.  I had driven in from Chester California, (My husband was building houses up there and I wanted to be with him.  We also have a home in Sparks Nevada but that was where the job’s were.)  My family all new this was the end it had been a rough and long road for her sense we lost my step dad, they had been married 25 years.  She missed him and never got over his death.  She wanted to go but she also needed to say good-by to Dayna, my oldest and her favorite grandchild. 

     My oldest daughter was serving our great country in Korea at that time and the hospital caregivers helped us contact all the people we needed to get her home so she could say good-by.  In March of 2004 Leona Rose Kirby passed away in room 343 of the third floor, Medical/Oncology Unit, with every living member of her family at her bedside.  One of the fathers of the Catholic Church came and gave her last rights. (My mother had been excommunicated from the church 30 years before.)  The father new how important it was to her, and to me, it’s a church thing we used to be brought up knowing this had to be done so were clean to meet God.   

     I was so impressed with the care that I applied and was hired, so I came home to Sparks and shortly after my husband found a carpenters job here in the area.

     Two years ago my husband started having uncontrollable pain in his back and in March of 2009 had a Lumbar spinal Stenosis back surgery that went very wrong. Shortly after the surgery he developed two hematomas to ether sides of his spine, and we had to go back to the hospital for another emergency surgery. We spent all day at the doctor’s office getting tests and X-ray’s a decision was made that surgery would have to be done.  We were kept at the doctor’s office until a room was ready on the Orthopedics floor at Catholic Hospital at 4:PM; I wheeled my husband into his hospital room.  He had not had any of the many different pain medicines he daily took sense 7:AM that morning, and was to be immediately started on IV pain medication and a PCA pump, for the nerve pain.”  

     This did not occur, hospital day staff was to busy. 

     I was the one who got husband into a hospital gown and then into bed, the caregivers did not have time to help and he was in too much pain to sit in his wheelchair.

     I did his vital signs and weight, his oxygen was low, 80-88%.  I informed the nurse of the oxygen and pain level, hospital policy is oxygen is given below 90% and a respiratory therapist is called in to evaluate.  I went and got a nasal cannula so it would be there ready to go when the nurse came in or by the room and a urinal he had to go to the bathroom we had called, no one came.  His oxygen stayed in the low 80% and he was in great pain.  Oxygen was put on and his face and his readings went up to 95% at once, still no admit or IV was done, by the day shift nurse.

     My husband was in a semi-private room, so there was another patient in the room, when that patient needed anything such as water or urinal emptied (it’s very hard to pea in a semi-full urinal you can get urine on your privates really easy) I helped him by empting his urinal and recorded the out put, caregivers are just that way, they help anytime anywhere. 

      At around 6:pm my husband’s day shift nurse came into the room to say he would be in as soon as possible with something for pain. (The registered nurse was a traveler from out of town and new to hospital; I had never met before. He left the room and 45-ish minutes went by and no pain medication, no IV, all of the pain medicines that the doctor had ordered could only be given threw an IV, I new shift change was about to start, I new it would be hours before the night nurse would have time to put the IV in, I could only comfort my husband he was now crying from the pain. 

     I had called using the call light and went to the nursing station personally many times, for both my husband and his roommate, but no one had time to come. 

     The Hospital shift change (on a good day it is usually a flurry of activity but mostly a nightmare), his day nurse and night nurse came into the room to do bedside report, and once again I asked for pain medicine for my husband.  The night nurse was one I had worked with many time and is one Catholic Hospital finest caregivers her patients always come first, but because no IV had been started or admit done she could not give him anything for pain, she said she would hurry, but she had to see and evaluate all of her patients, as she should they are in her care. 

     11:PM-ish the floor charge nurse came into the room to start his IV and gave him pain medicine. (This was another nurse I have had the privilege of working with many times over the 6-years I have been there.  He is one of those rare caregivers that does whatever is in front of him with a smile and a kind word.)  My husband went to sleep and knowing who was there to care for him I went home to sleep.  Nursing Operations had agreed to change my schedule so I worked while he was in the hospital and could be off when he was discharged home. 

     The next afternoon my husband had surgery. I came in early to be with him before I went on shift.  My husband was out-of-it still under anesthetic from surgery and other pain shots, his oxygen was in the 80-90’s and the vitals machine was not working right, it was constantly beeping.  He had pulled his nasal cannula out, I put it back on his face and oxygen level went up but the vital machine continued to still beep. 

      I spoke with my husbands doctor and found out about the surgery all went well and my husband should be coming home by the weekend they wanted to be sure no more hematomas formed; He had 2 hemovac’s. (They pull excess blood out of the body.) 

     I went to my scheduled shift and came down on short breaks each time my husband’s oxygen was off his face and vitals machine was beeping, each time I asked for help, no one came.  He stayed in the hospital 3 days and 2 nights, with the vitals machine beeping the entire time, except when I was there.  

     One of his hemovac was not working so I made the nurse come and look at it, instead of calling the doctor or another nurse she just put some tape on it.  It never really worked right, and the vitals machines kept beeping needing to be reset.  My husband was confused from low oxygen; he would not keep his oxygen on, and in his confusion pulled his IV out, for how long I do not know.

     I am not saying he had bad nursing care, they are wonderful nurses but everyone of them have so many patients to care for that they are over whelmed at times.  I did speak with my supervisor about the one I had pleaded with to change out the vitals machine.  My husband had to have it on because of the medications he was on, but the beeping was driving him insane.  I knew his nurse had also asked her to change the machine out, I herd her ask, it was not changed.

     One of my supervisors told me I needed to apply for FMLA, (Family Medical Leave of Absence) and I did, and I thank her everyday she hounded me, politely but she new I would need it.  I have had to take off time to care for him.  

     Then my husband got sick from the flu and his primary doctor sent us to Catholic Hospital Emergency Center, Friday noon-ish on 10/09/09.  She had wanted the hospital to admit him his oxygen was in the low 80 his temp was 101.4. His primary doctor had called ahead to speak with the Emergency Room doctor and told him we were on our way.  She wanted him admitted into the hospital, breathing treatments, IV antibiotics and oxygen started, right away.  His lungs were so full they made no sound.  In her office she had given him two breathing treatment and it barley broke up.  

     We were put in an emergency room and saw the doctor a breathing treatment was done with a mask and his lungs broke up enough for the respiratory therapist to hear the rattle she felt sure my husband would be admitted.  He was put on oxygen, but no pain meds were given.  A CT scan of his lungs was done and we waited.  

     I had called in FMLA, his doctor had wanted him admitted and I wanted to be with him.  He could not catch his breath and was afraid.  I went upstairs to tell the charge nurse what was happening with my husband down in emergency room, she was busy, but asked me to wait for her in the break room, then she went home leaving me there waiting.  

     I went back to emergency room to wait with my husband, and we waited.  An IV was ordered and the nurse stuck my husband three or four times in each arm fishing around for a vain, very painful, but was not able to start it saying his skin was to tuff, she finally got another nurse who put it right in the first stick.

     10:PM the doctor came in and said he wanted to see how he was on room air, the doctor turned the oxygen off and left, but he did not turn off the oxygen my husband was on, when he was brought back from the CT scan they had hooked him up on the other side of the bed.   I took his oxygen off, and his oxygen levels fell to 80-87%.  

     10:30-ish a different nurse came in with discharge orders, a prescription for antibiotics and a good-by, come back if he got worse.  At the time of his discharge his oxygen was at 87% and I stated that to the nurse he just unhooked him anyway and pulled out his IV, but in his chart; which I have a copy of they stated his oxygen was 96% room air.   

     My husband and I have been unable to get flu shots this year or the H1N1, but I got the flu because I was caring for him, and he got the flu bad. My doctor had me take off work for a week to heal and not infect other employees or patients.  His flu got worse.  

     All of this time (2-years now) my bosses at the hospital have all known my husband was sick and everyone worked with me, talked to me, helped me and wherever I worked it was known that my husband was very ill and might call, he had started to waking up confused in the middle of the night and would call for me. All of the other caregivers would talk and comfort me. Dealing with sick and dying people is what we do, I have cried with many families as their loved ones died, or had to try to comfort families dealing with a loved one experiencing many different situations to include Alzheimer’s, Amputations, Cancer, and other things that rob our love ones from us while they are still alive and we have to go on. 

     In July 2009 I took a fulltime position on Nephrology, as a MT/UC nights, with it I had to take a .60-cent cut in pay but I agreed to it.  

     My husband is sick as I have said and disabled in a wheelchair and suffers bouts of fear and confusion it gave him one phone number to call and 95% of the time I answered the phone calls, this gave him comfort and he could go back to sleep knowing I was there.

     This is where I am now, the first night I was scheduled back from being sick (10/20/09). I was MDO (mandatory day off) I was so tired but I thought no problem everyone was getting time off and others were taking on larger assignments. Then the next night 10/21/09 I was MDO again. On Thursday 10/22/09 I was MDO again, I asked if she new what was going on then the charge nurse said talk with department head, again I called.  Friday I was scheduled off, but I tried to call the department heads again, no one would take or return my calls. 

     Saturday I was called in to work a shift and I needed to put at least one Night shift in so my employee insurance would be paid.  (I never changed to the free insurance I was to worried about the higher co-pays.)  Sunday I called at 4:30 AM and asked if there was a shift I could do, there was and I worked it and was asked to work Monday same shift as well. I called the house supervisor and was given permission to work.

     Many times on that Monday I called and left massages with everyone in my chain of command. I went and talked to the union steward. She called and left messages as well.  She was very understanding but she had a full work assignment and patient care comes first, as it should. 

      Monday at 6:PM I got a call from the department head, she had 5 minutes and could see me if I hurried up to her office.  I clocked out and went to her office.  She was there along with one of her charge nurses. They informed me that they were sorry but the numbers were not what they hoped for and my position has been eliminated.

     I asked if I could be put somewhere, anywhere all I need my medical insurance for my husband.  I said I have been at Saint Mary’s for 6 years and worked every department in the hospital many times.

      I was told the hospital was not hiring in any department, they were sorry.  The director looked me in the eye and asked, What was wrong with my husband, was he sick?”

     I lost it and said yes he is dyeing (the flu has almost killed him his lungs filled completely) she had been signing my FMLA forms for the last 8 months or so. 

     Now my husband has his 100% disabled checks (Social Security Disability), but as of now no medical coverage not for another 6 months, he only has my insurance! (Does that sound odd to you no insurance but 100% disability?)  And if I cannot work (keep getting MDO) we will lose it as well, no money, no insurance, I pay $132 plus optical and dental out of each of my paychecks.  I have been checking out every site I can think of to ask for help.  Without insurance my husbands wheelchair goes back, his breathing treatment machine goes back and his medical drugs (over $1000.00 monthly)

     Now, I must state this, as I understand it, now.  I should have never have gone in that office without my union representative, but I did not know that at the time, I do now. 

     I do still have a job and I cannot be let go because of my FMLA, but they can MDO me, the union is checking into why I am being MDO every night and I am sure they will help or stop it.  But I am a realist and I know the minute they can I will be fired, I do not walk on water and everyone makes mistakes. In health care it is so easy to do. A break to us sometimes is just going to the bathroom.  I have now spoken out and that is not done the director was talked to, possibly even reprimanded.

     I am not sorry I spoke out what they said to me was wrong and they hurt me badly.  I was at the braking point after 2 years of watching the love of my life sinking farther and farther away.  The Catholic Hospital has changed so much sense my mother passed I wanted to work there because it was ok to bring God to work with you.  I wonder now if God has left the hospital and Corporation Business moved in. ($$$) 

     I will never allow any of my family to go to that hospital for care again; there are two others in the area, but I must keep my husband Insured (persisting claze)

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