Monday, February 8, 2010

Pity the poor nursing home resident-- especially at Wingate/Springfield

I wrote about my friend's trials and tribulations at Baystate a few weeks ago, and how he wound up with a colostomy when he'd been admitted for a broken clavicle and ribs. (!)

He did, eventually, get transferred to a Wingate Healthcare facility on Bicentennial Highway in Springfield.  They kept him there nearly three weeks and then sent him home last Wednesday while he was in an extremely frail condition.  He lasted exactly two days, fell again, and is now back in Baystate.

I'm sure I don't know the half of what happened at Wingate, but I'll write what I do know.

There is no separate wing there for short stay patients; they're mixed in with people who will breathe their last breath in that facility.  My friend's roommate died while he was there.  Obviously it would be much more heartening to be housed with patients all of whom are working hard to go home.  Not all facilities are like this.

My friend is both diabetic and a vegetarian.  I presume they have a dietician on staff but the kitchen seemed not to know what to do with him.  Three meals in a row (minus breakfast) he received potatoes and a vegetable, five meals in a row he was served a grilled cheese sandwich.  After the third meal, I told him to insist that the kitchen at least add a vegetable.

Apparently they preferred to control his diabetes through insulin rather than diet and insulin.  I was visiting one afternoon when a nurse took a sugar reading and it was high-- 220.  He returned with an injection of insulin.

The physical therapy department seemed to be a well-functioning unit.  The therapists I met were kind but not wimpy.  They pushed my friend to help him regain his strength.

But they failed to properly train him in the full ramifications of having an ostomy, how to care for it, tips for changing the ostomy bag, or the fact that having an ostomy requires drinking extra liquid to avoid dehydration.  This lack of information beaame a crucial factor in why he wound up back at Baystate.

My friend had his blood drawn several times in three weeks, but apparently whatever lab the facility uses failed to recognize that my friend had an infection (later determined to be caused by a wound he was accidentally given in Baystate!) This became factor number two in his re-admittance.

Worse, when my friend went for a follow-up visit to his surgeon on Friday, just hours before he went back to Baystate, the surgeon was furious that Wingate had reduced my friend's pain medication to a level so low as to be ineffective.  He had also made it clear in written orders to Wingate that my friend was not to be discharged until he was truly able to care for himself, as he lives with his elderly mother.

I started out angry writing this but I'm ending up just sad. When people are sick they are the least able to be effective advocates for themselves, and not everyone has family and friends who also have the time and resources to fight for them.

I also have more to say about Baystate, but I think I'll save it until my friend is safely out of their care.

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