Monday, April 28, 2008
ALZHEIMERS PATIENTS IN THE HOSPITAL
Yesterday when I was at the hospital waiting to get my blood test and shot, and when the staff was clearly overworked, I noted that one of the reasons was the Alzheimer's patient they were trying to control. He was fully dressed which seemed odd given that he had a room which he wasn't staying in. When he turned around, I noticed a big sign on his back giving his room number, apparently put there so someone could bring him back to where he belonged when he strayed. He was talking with the floor secretary who was trying to get him to go back into his room.
He needed a sitter, but the hospital refused to provide it, saying that the family must take that responsibility. I learned that "the family" was his 80-year-old wife who had been up all night with him. Obviously he was a major reason why I was left sitting for half an hour and why my medication had not been ordered. I could sympathize. My mother had Alzheimers. Caring for an Alz. patient is a 24/7 job. Unlike a baby, who can be just as demanding, you can't pick up the adult and put him in a crib where he is confined; and there is an unlimited number of objects within any home or hospital with which a person who has lost his mental capacity can get into serious trouble. Burdening the staff with this sort of caretaking means that other duties are left undone, as in my case.
At the rates a hospital charges this is completely unacceptable. I felt that my care was jeopardized by the situation, but I could speak for myself and did so. Patients on this floor were elderly and bedridden and not so fortunate as I was.
This reduction of everything related to healthcare to the bottom line dollar sign MUST be interrupted. It is the reason I feel that I must be my own advocate and set limits for what I will accept whenever I enter the medical arena. The world of medicine should not be an adversary of the sick, but that is what it has become since insurance companies entered the picture. It has not always been the case. I've lived long enough to remember the days when I viewed health insurance as unnecessary and not worth the trouble of filling out the paperwork. Back then there was no interruption between doctor and patient. Increasingly that insurance company interruption is pitting healthcare providers against healthcare customers in a world of medicine that too often resembles a Kafkaesque nightmare.