A New Journey Three

When mom died I had not lived at 222 for fifteen years.  When dad passed at the age of 60 I was almost 21 and still on 83rd Street.  Dad died in a hospital, returning there after some time being miserable at home.  Mom died in a nursing home after a considerable and unhappy stay.  She died in an accident when someone left the bedrail down.  The details are horrifying and will not be exposited here.

Mom’s death, I did not realize until my hospitalization and my confinement at rehab, left me with a sensitivity to bedrails and their use for my own safety.



The trip to rehab was carried out in a crappy old ambulance from a private company.  Jean had worked for this company for many years on Sundays and one of the emts remembered her.  So, when we arrived at the skilled nursing facility (SNF) that specialized in short term rehabilitation and Jean was waiting for me, there was a reunion of sorts.

The rehab experience was mixed.  My first night, a Monday, I was pretty miserable but the wonderful night shift RN spent an hour with me and got me calm enough to sleep.  The rehab professionals, OT and PT showed the next morning to conduct initial assessments. 

The medical doctor was a consultant and finally appeared late on Wednesday afternoon after much consternation and family intervention.  It was later explained that the consultant model was in use and that an institution such as this had days to evaluate medically.

My only problem with this was that the MD was relying on the medicine orders from the hospital which were wrong.  He also had to order lab work because none was shared for the transfer.  How dumb is that?

My roomy and I could not have been more different.  He was older, Italian and Catholic.  I, well you readers know. We did not discuss politics. My liberal west side of manhattan political leanings and his conservative trump liking inclination did not mix and we agreed not to examine our differences.  To say we took care of each other would be an understatement.  Louis constantly encouraging me, his wife getting things, and me calling the front desk on my cell phone for help when he was ignored for so long that he was yelling “help”.  

The OT and PT services varied by assigned worker.  But they were helpful no matter who delivered them.  

Nursing services were different.  In the SNF like the hospital, staffing was spread very thin and assigned inconsistently as to patients;  the CNA that worked with Louis and I one day, would be across the hall the next. We were also living in a place were medications were “passed” by LPNs (Licensed Practical Nurses) for whom you waited for a considerable amount of time if you wanted something outside of their medication administering schedule.  So, for pain medicine you could wait.

The regulations permit very few RNs.  This is unfortunate in many ways, particularly because in the late afternoon, through the night and weekends they are in charge and there are at most two for a 100 bed facility.  Complaints were handled at this level.

I was trouble.  Besides making a scene about not seeing the doctor who was writing orders for my care, I experienced numerous medication “near misses” as they were called and one medication error I was sure occurred.  These troubles upset me not only for myself but for the numerous other “residents” who did not have my experience in health care or were unable to speak for themselves.  

I do have to mention the food.  They had a new food service director I was told more than once.  But just like in the hospital the food was institutional and errors were frequent.

The focus was rehab and as I said above it was good.  They wanted me to stay longer but my mental state was deteriorating and we believed I could continue to improve with home based services.  The care plan/discharge meeting was not going the way I wanted it to go until Jean called in.  She helped make it very clear that I needed to go home and in the end the family rules.  The irony was that medicare cut me off the day I was to leave.

I’m still using a walker but moving toward the cane.  It’s hard.

There is more of course, but, dear readers, I owe those of you who stuck with me a return to stories of growing up on the west side.  Thanks for reading.

4 thoughts on “A New Journey Three

  1. Horrifying, Ken, and so hard to read. May I ask, as one from your early life—who is Jean? I truly hope you’re on the road to a permanent recovery. I had occasion to visit the old neighborhood recently and will be posting photos on Facebook soon.


  2. I have been the court appointed guardian (of both the person and the property) of an old friend for over a year and have seen her through four admissions to two different Queens hospitals, as well as months – and, most recently, a year – in two different rehab/nursing facilities. Although the care is astoundingly better in her current location, there is still a level of bureaucratic idiocy that continues to frustrate.


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