SHREVEPORT, La. --- Whether in hospice, hospitals, nursing homes and rehabilitative skilled nursing facilities, they are intimidating, frightening, and unnerving. Just because you cannot walk so well following a hip replacement, or spinal surgery, does not waive your right to autonomy over your own life, and the manner in which you are cared.
There are some facilities, while certainly not all, which are ecstatic to have patients who are unable to speak for themselves, and demand what is right, because they are too old, or in other ways incapable. This, nearly, absolves them from doing the very best job they possibly can. Or so they’d like to think.
I have worked in facilities wherein the administration is only truly concerned about meeting the bare minimum requirements per the letter of the code of the state mandates manual. Anything extra, they wholly resented. It annoyed them to have to go beyond the “book”, and really care about patient experience, or outcomes. I quit that facility in short order.
If you, or loved ones are in care, you have a responsibility--- an obligation, to speak up for, and demand whatever it is you need, especially where nutrition, hygiene, comforts, or connectivity are concerned. State-based long-term care Ombudsmen are positioned to hear grievances which are unable to be resolved after being professionally, politely brought to the attention of administrators. Their numbers are prominently posted in public hallways in most every facility. It is required by law. Find it the DAY you are admitted to the facility. Use the number if you have a justifiable reason to. It is their sole job, to assure that patient rights are honored, and within reason, met.
It WILL annoy many admins who prefer not to rock the boat. Those for whom the status quo is comfortable, and convenient. Remember, however, that while ALL medical facilities are a “business”, there is a fiduciary obligation to make certain that patient needs, beyond the minimums are addressed. It is too bad if your concerns or reports are inconvenient for them. If you feel that your reasonable requests are being shelved or ignored, blown-off or disrespected... You know the number to call.
Conversely, I have worked in, or been a patient in, facilities which seem to ONLY care that the patient care experience is nothing but optimal! Ones that treat patients like guests, instead of “residents”. If you think about it, prisoners are technically “residents” of a prison--- whether called “inmates” or otherwise.
The patient care paradigm truly must be revised generally, in order to assure that patients do feel like guests in their temporary, or permanent new homes. The top of the line facilities will embrace, and strive for, this paradigm shift with open arms. The low-budget, people warehouses will not. One can drive a Yugo, and some can afford a Bentley. No matter what you can afford, you’re entitled to a car that works, is comfortable, sufficient to your needs, and safe.
In some of my recent personal medical care experiences, I have been told by administrators, and staff, that they have “bent over backward” for me. Really? First of all, that is an unprofessional, and unacceptable way to address a paying patient or guest. If asking for some vegetables every once in a while, or for a brighter light bulb in my dark “cave” of a room, or any other minor ask which was clearly perceived as an inconvenience, or a problem bent their spine so terribly, then perhaps an apology is in order, on my part.
Clearly, there is a mindset in this region, which seems to say that patients should be grateful for what they DO get, and should accept it. This writer says that that should never happen to, nor should ever be expected of, people of sound mind, and in control of their faculties, even while in care.
Clearly, and blessedly, our region, state, and parishes offer some of the very best healthcare available. Much like in any family, however, there are aunts and uncles that never do really quite live up to the family standards, or honor. Lesser relations really should not be given a pass.
Most of the healthcare professionals I’ve encountered in work, and patient, situations have been devoted to honoring the nobility of their professions, and their personal moral compass. I have also encountered those that have been shameless, and dolefully harmful in failing to be the best they could be--- for their guests.
A patient, or their family, may already be feeling powerless, and overwrought, in adjusting to new medical realities. Shouldn’t the caregivers make every possible effort to console, comfort, serve, and minister to those in their charge? Don’t you love rhetorical questions?
Patients have rights, as do their family members. I don’t advise being rude, loud, and combative--- especially without justification. I do however, pray that any person with concerns about the genuine best-efforts, best-practices, and authentic care offered to themselves, or their loved ones, take advantage of appropriate, available, resources, by which to correct such situations graciously, swiftly, and professionally. If you are not proactive, and rigorously vigilant, in getting that to which you are entitled, there really is nobody upon which to lay that, is there? Participate in your care. It can save your life... Or someone you treasure.
If you have a question about patient care, or advocacy, please contact the editorial office of The Sun in confidence, with your request, and I will do my best to address reader concerns on the topic in future editions.Your identity will not be published, unless you specifically grant us permission to mention your name, and city information. Contact us by calling (318) 631-6222.
About the writer:
Marcinho Savant, a disabled Shreveport/Bossier resident, is a former health care worker in both private-duty, and institutional care environments. He is an author, entertainment executive, and nursing home survivor.
Words: 1009 with Boilerplate
Marcinho Savant, a Shreve