Daughter's Eulogy

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Patients Need Advocates

Many moons have passed and I just had time now to continue my story about last Monday.  What happened next that day is too important not to share with you.

When I called Ron, I was informed that her doctor had said that she does not need rehab.  I was livid.  How could this possibly be?  Mom Lentz could not get out of bed, or go to the wash room or dress herself without assistance.  She just started to speak yesterday.  Dad Lentz has a cane.  He is hard of hearing.  How in the world would the doctors expect her to survive at home?  Home health care is not a 24-hour service.  What happens when home health care is not there?  What happens in the middle of the night when she has to go to the wash room?  What happens if she falls?

Ron said angrily, “I am just telling you what they told me.  The doctor is refusing to put her in a rehab center.  Dad is a nervous wreck.  He does not know how he will be able to take care of mom.  I spoke with mom too.  She cannot believe they are discharging her.  She does not want to go home yet.”

“Honey, do not pick up mom from the hospital.  I am going to call the doctor and tell them that this is unacceptable.”

Upon calling the doctor and explaining to his assistant our predicament, the assistant stated she would call me back after speaking with the doctor since he was with another patient right now.  What I was told when she called back was that I would have to call Social Services at the hospital to inform them that I want mom to go to a rehab facility.  The doctor stated that social services determine if she needs rehab.

When I contacted the social services person who was assigned to Mom Lentz case, she told me I was too late.  She had already signed the discharged papers so mom was discharged as far as the hospital was concerned.   She snottily told me, “If the family wanted mom to have rehab, the family had to request this from our doctor the day of her surgery.   Then mom’s doctor has to place an order for social services so that social services could look into it.  She said they normally need days to do this.  Mom has been discharged already and there is nothing I or anyone else can do about it.”

“First of all, my husband and Mom Lentz both talked to both the surgeon and her doctor before the surgery took place.  They both said that Mom Lentz will be evaluated after surgery.  They will not let Mom Lentz go home unless she would be able to take care of herself.”

“This is the first I have heard about your mom needing a rehab facility.  Someone dropped the ball, but either way it is too late.  She is already discharged.”

“How do you sleep at night?” I said sarcastically.

“What?  How could you say that to me?” demanded the social worker.

“Very easily . . . Mom Lentz cannot dress herself, walk by herself, and get to the toilet by herself. You expect her to go home with a little help from home health care!  Dad Lentz cannot help her to get up from bed or anywhere else.  He is 79 and uses a cane.”

“Her situation at home is not my concern.”

“Shame on you; her situation should be important to you.   As I said before, how do you sleep at night?  If you send her home, this situation will be an accident waiting to happen.  Mom or Dad Lentz will get injured and I will hold you, the hospital and the doctor responsible.”

“Did you just threaten me?”  

“Yes, I am not a newbie to rehab facilities.  I know you can make a call and get her a room right now. “

“It is 3:45PM, I go home at 5PM and so do the people I need to talk with at the rehab center.  Furthermore, I cannot do anything without an order from Mom Lentz’s doctor.  I do not know why he told you I could do put her in a rehab center without one.”

“You do not want to do it because you have to redo your paperwork.  Do you realize how ridiculous this sounds to me?  I am in The Community’s parking lot right now; I know there are rooms available.  Call them, they know me, I have been working with them on a regular basis for the past five years.”

“I cannot do anything unless you get me an order from your doctor.”

“I will call now and put us on a three-way.”

“No, just tell the doctor to call me and give me an order.”

I called the doctor back and explained to the doctor’s assistant that Mom Lentz would be considered for a rehab center if the doctor places an order for her to be evaluated by physical therapy.  I said that I was disappointed that the doctor gave me the runaround in the first place.  I mentioned that I would be calling her back in fifteen minutes if I did not hear from the doctor or the social worker by then because time was of an essence.

Less than ten minutes later, I received a call from the social worker’s assistant.  She asked me who my relative at The Community* was.  I gave her mom’s name.  The Community* immediately said they would hold a room for Mom Lentz tonight in hopes that she would qualify in the morning after Mom Lentz was evaluated by physical therapy. The hospital was going to keep Mom another night and determine what to do in the morning.

When I called Ron, he was relieved.  When Ron told Dad Lentz, he was relieved.  And as you can imagine, when I visited Mom Lentz and told her, she was relieved.  The bottom line is that when your loved ones are in the hospital, they need an advocate who will go to war for them . . .  someone who will fight to protect them and their rights.

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