Witwithwords Blog

Archive for the ‘Personal Rating of Hospitals’ Category

During the last six months, I’ve visited lots of hospitals in Massachusetts – luckily, as a visitor and and not as a patient! I became the advocate for someone from my church and for loved ones. And while the various hospitals all treated these patients with top-flight medical care, there is a big difference in how they treated me – the patient’s advocate or caregiver.

At Milford Regional Medical Center, http://www.milfordregional.org,
they allowed me to stay with the 80-year-old woman I drove to the ER. Whenever I made a request for the patient, hospital personnel met my requests ASAP. They practiced hospital protocol by frequently asking the patient her name, what her illness was and then explaining what they planned to do next. However, because her complaint was not life-threatening, it was a long wait and because it was crowded, she lay on a stretcher for almost six hours in the hallway.

At Norwood Hospital (Caritas Health Care)http://www.caritaschristi.org, which I visited twice, the staff was friendly and professional enough. However, they never alerted me to when the patient was in recovery. I had to continually ask, and then they had to send someone down to check on my request. Waiting without an answer was nerve-wracking! Plus, they just wheeled out the patient and I did not hear the at-home instructions, even though I was going to be responsible for the patient for the first 24 hours after the surgery.

At Faulkner Hospital, http://www.faulknerhospital.org, which I visited three times with a friend for one-day surgeries, they allowed me to accompany the patient all the way to the sedation room and right up to the time he went into the OR. Then, they directed me to a waiting room specifically set aside for caregivers, and they staffed that room with a volunteer who frequently checked on the progress of everyone’s surgery. As soon as the patient was semi-alert in Recovery, I was allowed to join him. I received verbal and written instructions for his at-home care.

The one big difference between all of these hospitals is that the personnel at Faulkner (now part of the Brigham and Women’s Health Care) seemed to consider the caregivers as a crucial part of the patient’s recovery. (How a surgical patient responds in the first 24 hours after surgery is elemental to their recovery.) The staff also seemed trully upbeat and happy. Everyone on the staff that I came into contact with enjoyed their work, got along together as a team, followed safety protocols to the max (from frequent hand-washing to identifying the patient, the illness, surgical procedure, etc.,) had smiles on their faces and were caring and responsive, not only to the patient, but to me.

You don’t always have a choice when it comes to hospital care – but if I have the choice, the choice is very clear.

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One of the benefits – if you could call it that- of having more leisure time than you would like is that you can volunteer more.

Recently, I helped Helen, 92, from my church (First Universalist Society of Franklin, http://www.fusf.org) who needed emergency services at Milford Hospital, http://www.milfordregional.org, in Milford, MA. Helen had wrenched her back muscles while taking care of her younger sister, 88, who was just home recovering from a knee operation.

Let me tell you, Helen is one of those remarkable people who still has loads of energy, fitness and all of her wits about her. She is a retired nursing director. But on the day I took her to the hospital, she was in excruciating back pain and practically crippled over. Despite her pain, throughout that whole long day, Helen was more worried about her younger sister than herself.

The Milford Hospital doctors, nurses and specialists treated Helen with great respect and after many different tests and an MRI, all recommended that she be admitted for more tests and so they could alleviate her pain. But neither Helen, nor her sister, had any other living relatives. The main dilemma was who could care for her sister while Helen was hospitalized. So Helen asked me to drive her home.

Our UU minister and a social worker tried to get Helen’s sister readmitted to the nursing home, but her health insurance (Medicare plus supplemental) prevented that. A private aide was too prohibitive. Finally, a patchwork system of volunteers from the church would deliver a hot meal, check in on her sister daily, so Helen could return to the hospital to receive the back treatment she desperately needed.

It is just over three weeks since I admitted Helen to the hospital. After three days at the hospital, Helen was scooted to a nursing home for physical rehabilitation and rest. Because of medical insurance regulations, she now must come home, even though she cannot stand yet. What happens next is anyone’s guess.

Neither Helen, nor her sister, should be left alone for long periods of time. Which begs the question…..what do people do when medical insurance and Medicare both say no, and they have no relatives to help them further?