This is a story that make me sad if not outright angry....read on....
Many hospitals offer a wonderful service for seniors who live alone to call and check in every morning, staffed by volunteers...great and my own mother participates through this sort of a plan...wonderful and great that it exists; however this is not a story about this service of seniors helping seniors, but more about a good civic minded volunteer who donates her time to make this a success and her story about the healthcare she received.
I'll call her Mary....every day Mary donates her time to make sure everyone on the list has called in for the morning...and calls the seniors who live alone perhaps have maybe forgotten to check in for the day. If she does not receive an answer by phone, she has a list of family members or friends to contact to alert. Great project as it can alert loved ones of something potentially adverse and get everyone in touch.
Mary, one day, had an accident at the facility...fell and hit her head while doing her volunteer activities at the hospital's facility. She was rushed to the hospital and seen by the hospitalist on duty. With the senior service, those who call in do develop a personal relationship with the volunteers as it is something that is done every day. My mother, on her next call was told that her friend Mary had been taken to the hospital and she was filling in until Mary was able to return to work. Mary is in her early 80s. Of course, everyone is concerned about Mary and has inquired as she is the friendly voice that many seniors hear and speak with every day.
Within a couple days she was released to go home and told to apply some heat and cold treatment to the area and she would be fine, but all was not fine, she could barely stand up and get out of bed. Upon her release she had told the hospitalist that she was still in pain and there were insufficient tests done, such as an MRI to pinpoint what happened. Also in making a phone call to the physician afterwards, she was once again told to use hot and cold packs to relieve the pain and told once more she would be fine, no mention of an offer to return.
Within 24 hours of being home, with the help of a friend since Mary lives alone herself, they called 911, and Mary was taken to another hospital. Upon arrival, an MRI was done without question, something overlooked at the hospital where she donates her time. They found she had serious back injuries as a result of her fall. She is still in the hospital getting treatment and will be released to senior care nursing home for 3 months to continue therapy, and she has no immediate family, just friends.
The issue I find here is why did the hospital, where she volunteers her time, let her down? There are many areas to ponder here and insurance was not the issue as far as coverage. Did the hospitalist, employed by the hospital, not take her complaints seriously, was he/she under additional pressure to meet P4P goals and maintain the current goals for getting patients in and out of the hospital? Did he/she not care or view her age being any type of factor? What are the hospital policies in place as far as occupational goals for the hospitalist? Their performance is scrutinized by the number of re-admissions done as well, so was this a part of the diversion to another hospital to care for her, so was the effort to have her go to another hospital an effort to keep a re-admission off the record? What are the hospital guidelines for MRIs and was this related to cost?
No matter how you look at this, the hospital where she DONATES her time every day let her down, and this makes me sad and angry as something like this is just not supposed to happen. How cold and indifferent can issues get? By now, the entire grapevine of all those individuals she was in contact with on a daily basis to check in are discussing this issue in a flurry as she was the caring and concerned individual who donated her time in helping others......in other words it happened to Mary...so what would be in store for those that Mary contacts every day....can they trust and feel a a vote of confidence to how they would all be treated at this hospital...makes you stop and think.....it may only be one insolated incident, but when it happens to you, it is not isolated by any means...and everyone is wanting to know her status and how she is being treated at the other hospital who is now caring for her.
Again, there are many stories like this and they all tell a human saga here of HealthCare in the US failing..I felt this was particularly important to bring this to light not only for Mary, but to once again address the problem that we have a very broken system in this country and how long will we as citizens continue to embrace those policies that reduce cost for healthcare only, as they do interfere with decisions that are being made every day...what has happened to the morale commitment of "doing the right thing", something that is inherent and lives within all of us.
In this case it was not only the hospital but every individual involved in the process of her care that contributed to the break down...and after this series of events, it does make you wonder how Mary will feel about continuing to donate her time....if she will physically be able to re-join the wonderful rank and files of those who take it upon themselves to unselfishly donate their time to helping others, will she return to the hospital where she has for years donated her time? I know how I would personally feel if it were me.....I would hope to someday soon see a day when stories such as this are no longer newsworthy and cease to exist....and everyone she touched will now be aware of the lack of the quality of care she received at the hospital she believed in for so long....BD