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


A week later, it became clear that dad was gonna finally get out of the nursing center—basically because the insurance wouldn’t pay up anymore. They’d obviously done SOME quality work for him to have exultantly made it to freedom, but the social worker claimed it was illegal that the staff hadn’t first checked the house to see if he’d be safe there. Fine, I could add that to my imaginary 100-page lawsuit—the one I’d file if I weren’t teetering on emotional collapse myself.

Emergency 24-hour aid, paid for by charity, was sent—for my folks, not for me—and I was thrilled. But they stopped coming after three days because my parents weren’t eligible for Medicaid! (Sidebar: To qualify for that, you have to either piss away all your assets or hide them away and act poor. You must be either a sad old loser or a tricky old codger—and there are lawyers instructing you on exactly how to do so. They’ll even help you along on that goal by taking very large fees!)

The social worker’s organization promptly sent over someone with a handy list of their approved home-care agencies that charge big bucks to keep you company. Desperate, I called one of the agencies, but they informed me, “We’re not licensed to do any lifting. He would have to get up and walk by himself.” But he can barely move! That’s why we need help! Another firm said their workers will not under any circumstance perform hygiene-related tasks. I guess they could talk you through it, though. (“Go on, wipe your heinie. Come on, move your ass to the bathroom and grab some paper…”) I finally found a place with helpers who supposedly did lifting, cleaning, and everything else—for your entire life’s fortune. I started keeping my coat on at nightclubs to save a few dollars a night.

(To be continued tomorrow. . .)