Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Letter to a Rehab Director: Part I (four part series)

This is Part I of a series of posts to follow the rest of the week.

An elderly relative who was recovering from surgery spent a month in a rehab in a large city. There were a number of problems with the quality of care there, and this rehab, attached to a nursing home facility had a good reputation. But one never really knows unless one experiences the care first hand. Oftentimes, families do not have the luxury of caring for their loved one with numbers of family and friends around. They work, can't take the time off, siblings are far away, and the elderly loved one must fend for themselves, doing the best they can under the circumstances.

The more elderly they are, the more they can fall through the cracks, especially with the siege mentality of the health care industry regarding elder care. Medicare pays regardless if the rehab is working diligently to progress their patients to go back home or it isn't. In instances where patients might not be able to go home to the care of someone, then the likelihood increases that the rehab will not work as diligently and will merely send the patient to the nursing facility attached to the rehab/nursing home facility. This happened to a friend's mother, unlike my elderly cousin. However, my cousin had the means; she had continual and ongoing friend and family advocacy. And still there were problems as you will see in the following letter written about the care given in the facility. The letter is being posted in the hope that readers will see the great necessity of patient advocacy, especially for the elderly. Names and dates have been masked.

Katherine Doe
Executive Director
Pillow Elderly Home
Rehabilitation Center
City, State, USA

Dear Katherine Doe: 

I am writing on behalf of Mrs. White a former resident of your rehabilitation facility at Pillow Elderly Home. Mrs. White was a patient from Tuesday, August 14, 2010 to Friday, September 16, 2010. Mrs. White was recuperating from bladder surgery and surgery on her sigmoid colon, which involved a resectioning. She needed ostomy care, physical therapy, occupational therapy and proper nutrition to return her to a stronger physical state so she could be discharged in a timely fashion to further heal and recuperate at home. Mrs. White found the staff, with a few exceptions, personable and kind. However, Mrs. White, her personal assistant, Ms. Ferber, Sally Brown (Mrs. White's niece) Patricia Wheeler (Mrs. White's niece) and I, Mary Merlo (Mrs. White's relative) encountered issues that should be brought to your attention so that you can improve the quality of care for your rehab facility.

Sally Brown and Patricia Wheeler are familiar with Mrs. White's condition because their mother had a colostomy. I am familiar with elder care because my brother, I and an aide cared for my father 24/7 at his home when he was battling prostate cancer over a period of three years. In facilities other than the home, family members can speed the recovery of their loved ones, providing a comforting presence, especially if the patient is elderly, anxious and fearful, as was the case with Mrs. White, who felt reassured with her nieces and others present. But in addition, she found that she also needed personal attention above friends and family "visits" because the care at the rehab was less than standard for good rehabs. The following list pertains, revealing the substandard care she received.

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