Friday, May 14, 2010

Mental health...what's that?!

As predicted…there’s a story.

A story about a mental health appointment where the “patient” never showed.

Leaving the niece, (me) considered using it for herself.

I was on time. Early in fact. The medical transport people were to pick Auntie up at the nursing home 30 minutes prior to her appointment, then meet me at the doctor’s office where I’d hand over a check for transport. They use to just bill me. I guess the economy has voided that practice. Truth is, if I was in better shape, and she was a ton lighter, I’d just push here there. I clocked it this morning; it’s about 4 tenths of a mile from home to the doctor’s office. Charge for round trip: $52

The appointment time came. And went. No Auntie. I called the nursing home. Flustered, they finally admitted that because there was no check waiting at the nursing home when medical transport arrived…they left.

And no one called me.

Why? Because no one on duty knew I was going to the appointment.

No, it wasn’t a life-or-death appointment. (Well, not at THAT point). My initial reaction, however, was shouldn’t the nursing home staff have notified family that a resident with a scheduled doctor’s appointment had been virtually abandoned?

Kindhearted and understanding evaporated as steam came out of my ears. The not-happy-to-take-off-work-just-to-push-the-wheelchair-down-the-hall-because-the-medical-staff-won’t part pf me sighed through gritted teeth into the phone, “YOUR nurse made this arrangement.”

Guess who forgot to note it on the chart? My guess is Nurse Forgetful won’t like coming to work today.

So I sat, subconsciously counting large vehicles passing by that might be medical transport. The Armored Truck at the bank across the street was the most efficient. Perhaps I’ll give them a call next time. Sitting next to the t.v. I was able to listen to the same medical video loop from two weeks ago. Did you know the answer to what horrible ingredient cigarette smoke gives off is... nickel? Or that beet root juice is great for lowering cholesterol? I do. Because I sat there long enough for that video to play 3 times. I had to keep myself from mumbling the answers aloud. Like I needed my own appointment. At least the waiting room wasn’t a combat zone this time. And the music by the one handed guitar player on the video was soothing.

I’d have to check my cell phone for confirmation, but I'm guessing my calls to the nursing home for updates were about every 20 minutes. Each call brought a new revelation…like something out of a Three Stooges episode. (I’m sure YouTube can clue you in on who they are.). When the nursing home receptionist began automatically sending my call to the right person at the mere sound of my voice, I figured it was time to add her to my Christmas card list.

And now, for your amusement, we bring you: the Nurse’s end of the conversation.

#1 "I called and explained the situation to medical transport. They’re coming right back to get her. Only be a few minutes."

#2 "Yes, they assured me they're on the way. Really? It’s been 20 minutes already? Well, I just saw them walking up the hall and into her room. Just a few more minutes."

#3 (20 minute later, I walk up to the Nurses’ Station at the nursing home)
"Hi hope! Yes, I am Nurse L.. It's so nice to finally meet you in person. What do you mean, 'Where’s my aunt?'”

(Cue frantic phone call to medical transport).
"Uh-huh. I see. No, they rescheduled her appointment. You’ll have to bring her back here."

(Addressing me after hanging up)
"I don’t understand. They claim to be at the doctor’s office. Right now. Said they had to pull over ‘several times’ on the way there because your aunt was listing over in her wheelchair. But exactly how many times can you pull over and do that in a quarter mile?"

#4 "Yes, I’ll keep the check and give it to them when they arrive. You’re probably right about them charging her for the ride. And you'll probably pass them in the hall. I’m sooo sorry. I agree, we should kick Nurse Forgetful in the butt."

But I don’t pass them in the hall. Or on the road. Nor were they parked at the doctor’s office. Wearily, I head back to work after 2½ hours of phone calls and apologies; me to the doctor’s staff, the nursing home staff to me.

The irony? I had to take “Sick Leave” to attend her appointment.

As I reached for the door at work, my cell phone rang. “Hi, Nurse L. here! They just brought her back. Turns out they went to the wrong office. Good news, no charge! Plus we can keep this check and use it next week. Thank you for being sooo understanding.”

It’s enough to make you mental. And that’s not healthy.

I’m wondering if there’s a group rate available should I drag the nursing home staff AND medical transport inside for the next appointment?

To tell you the truth, I kinda missed the Hysterical Giggling Man. At least he lightened the mood.

Oh well, there’s always next week. Same time, same place.

So stay tuned for Part 3 of “Adventures with Auntie: Who’s giggling now?”


Monkey Man said...

Classic three stooges bit. I can picture Auntie listing one way, then the other as two of the three run from one side and back to the other chasing the tip that never happens.

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, this is not funny. It has become the norm. Incompetence and apathy have taken over everywhere.

Enchanted Oak said...

Oh, Hope. I'm so sorry you have to put up with this. My mom is in a care facility. I'm struggling to keep my sanity with some of the shenanigans. Either you laugh or you go ballistic. I'm glad you didn't go ballistic. But I know how draining it is. Sending you a hug....

steven said...

it'd be hard to imagine but really even though it's funny on one level, on another that is very close to home (believe it or not!) it so very much isn't. good for you to be able to make light of this..... i really hope you can keep your composure a while longer!! you're brave! steven

Charlie said...

I believe that "care facility" is an oxymoron. As is "transport service."

Like someone said, some days it's not worth trying to chew through the restraints. Yours, not Auntie's.

I really do agree with gregj and Enchanted Oak. This BS isn't funny.

mapstew said...


I'm having one of those weeks!

Soon it will be Sunday evening and I can go to the pub! :¬)


savannah said...

bless your heart! hang in there, sugar, we have many rivers to cross... xoxoxoxo

Titus said...

God love you, hope! I'd have punched somebody by now.

All I can offer by way of consolation is that it's a good story now, and it will be a brilliant one in ten years time, once you can tell it without the back of your neck getting hot.

hope said...

Monkey Man; if this Friday turns out the same way, the Transportation people will have to walk back.

gregj: no, it's not funny. But in order to deal with all that's been heaped on my plate without me asking, I have to laugh or cry. Laughing feels better.

Enchanted Oak: it's all sadly a sign of our times: some folks get paid to work and the rest show up wanting a paycheck. Thanks for the hug!

steven: thanks for seeing the point of this exercise: I'd rather laugh than cry. And you folks keep me going with much appreciated encouragement!

Charlie: I often feel like I live a life filled with oxymorons...and yet I keep getting up and trying anyway. Thanks for keeping me company.

Map: kindly drink one for you, one for me and one to give me strength for round 3 of this mess. you ever feel like the river is winning? :) Hugs to you as well.

hope said...

Titus: once the steam stopped coming out of my ears, I functioned well. :) Sadly, working with the public [as you well know] can make you nuts if you can't step back and find something funny amidst the rubble of crap. Thanks for keeping me going.

Can anyone NOT understand why that vacation the last week of May is looking good? ;)

hope said...

Gee gregj, sorry that my "keep my head when others are losing theirs and blaming it on you" approach ran you off. Hope you'll come back.

Brighid said...

Having worked in a "retirement facility" for a few years, more than a few years ago, I totally agree with your frustration. We had a van to take the elders to appts, etc. It was always an adventure...Keep laughing, keep laughing....Oh is that coat for me?

hope said...

Thanks Brighid! If I ever lose my sense of humor, I'll have to stay home..forever. ;)

Jingle said...

Happy Monday!
Friendship awards 4 u.
I enjoyed your company!