Health Care Doesn’t Care: An Old Folks’ Hospital Diary (Part Two)


Other little hardships were popping up like butt rashes. Dad’s cash was mysteriously stolen from his room on his first day in the home–a lovely welcome. Worse, he fell off the bed because they didn’t have the railings up. (Maybe they’d been stolen too.) He started healing from that, but two weeks later he slipped and fell again! “The railing was up on one side,” a worker explained to me in a sadistic monotone. What about the other side? “If we put two sides up, it’s a restraint,” she droned, simply. You can’t argue with logic like that—and at least one more side was up than last time.

By now, I had no idea when he’d ever get out of this ridiculous hole. Talk about a restraint. The social worker had promised a meeting where we’d discuss his situation with the staff, but suddenly no one was saying another word about it. I sensed that they all wanted to keep dad there as long as the insurance would pay for it, and too bad if he wasn’t eating, kept falling, and had to shell over that copay.

Miraculously, my mom did get out—exactly when her full coverage expired, interestingly enough. Her at-home help was covered for a while too, but basically you get what you pay for. On the first day, the assigned woman was three hours late and on the second day she didn’t show up at all. The third day she came late and made herself lunch. And on the fourth day she rested.

Between hissy fits, I called dad’s social worker to beg for his own exit plan. “But he might fall in the house,” she said, pleadingly. “Well, he fell twice in the hospital,” I screeched. “How much worse can it get?” These people are geniuses at mumbo jumbo designed to distract you until the insurance runs out. Under pressure, she instructed me to call the head of rehab for more info about dad’s release. I did so, only to have the head of rehab cheerily say I should call the social worker! This was turning into a “Who’s on first?” routine, but without railings.

(To be continued tomorrow. . .)