Baptist Hospital & Medical Center, Little Rock, Arkansas/Medicare/Medical 2016
By – Sheri de Grom
Baptist Hospital, Little Rock, Arkansas sent my husband home to die.
A mere pull on the plug of Tom’s heart generator, a two man lift, a rapid ride in a wheelchair to the front door and we haulted.
We were met, at the exit, by 3 hefty physical therapists who placed my husband in an unfamiliar cradle hold and put him in our car for the ride home to Conway. The speed of Tom’s transfer from the cardiac unit to the outside of the hospital seemed he’d been shot from the dirty laundry chute.
Tom didn’t have the use of his limbs, none of them. He couldn’t sit-up in the wheelchair and the floor RN strapped him in before he was wheeled off the ward!
My Prince Charming had no idea where he was or what was going on and for that I’ll always be grateful. That’s the only thing I’ll ever be thankful for when it comes to Baptist Hospital, Little Rock, Arkansas.
Baptist Hospital’s logo represents the amazing care they offer patients. The ONLY AMAZING CARE THAT ACCURED DURING THIS ADMISSION WAS HOW FAST THEY THREW MY HUSBAND OUT OF THE HOSPITAL IN CRITICAL CONDITION?
Think back 20 years, would this have happened?
I’ve witnessed much due to Tom being bipolar, but nothing this blatantly hostile. The events of Feb. 10, 2016 exhibit medical care USA 2016. This is where our medical care stands and it can happen to anyone, anywhere.
We didn’t have a rehab to take Tom to that day and I’ll discuss the obstacles in our way in a separate blog. My anger burns and I cannot logically discuss the atrocities imposed upon
those requiring high cost medications or that have a mental health illness diagnosis, even if the symptoms have been controlled for well over a decade. Tom has both!
Tom qualified for Home Health due to the severity of his illness. [He was still listed in critical condition and we were going home where I was the primary caregiver]. Just because I knew medical jargon and still carried not only JCAHO (Joint Commission on National Quality Assurance) and Inspector General (IG) credentials. I’m not a Critical Care Team member and that’s what Tom needed 24/7.
I went around our social worker at the hospital (assigned to Tom’s case) and contacted his trauma surgeon. I requested an order for Home Health. He also failed to tell me what our obstacles were in getting Tom into a rehab facility.
Do not assume the social worker assigned to your case cares anything about your loved one or what your own capabilities are. Ours was impossible to reach about possible treatment and/or continuing treatment options. She never seemed to be in her office, never answered her phone directly and when she did return a call, it was often days after I needed the information.
There’s not a doubt in my mind that Tom was discharged from the hospital to die. Discharging him saved hospital resources, made his bed available for another cardiac patient and they no longer had to dispense Tom’s high-priced medications. The hospital had already bled our insurance dry of what they were going to pay with high cost procedures performed back-to-back.
I’ll write more about Home Health in a future blog but over the next few months I learned our social worker at Baptist Health had lied to us about what was available for Tom and we would never have had to undergo the nightmare the week Tom came home.
Other professionals lied by simply omitting what they knew. They understood what was required to admit Tom to a rehab facility and no one, not one person on Tom’s medical team said one word about what the real problem really was. I had to search out this answer for myself by reading the Federal Register and cornering CEO’s of rehab centers when they told me no they would not accept Tom as a patient.
My former deputy and dear friend, Michael, told me the subject of ageing ill patients came up with his golfing friends on a regular basis. Many are cardiologist docs and they are equally frustrated with Medicare and also freely discuss the practice of discharging patients to home to die. It saves the hospital expenses and if the doctor can make it happen before the weekend, well there’s a good chance the doctor will have an easier weekend as well. There’s not a lot of money to be made in treating dying patients.
These same doctors can enjoy their leisurely 18 holes of golf over the weekend plus spend extra time at the 19th hole while the patient’s family is alone, dealing with the death of their loved one, in the home. This is not a time when you want the doctor on call. We all deserve better than this!
For a doctor to remain in good standing with Medicare they are discouraged from having a patient in the hospital over the weekend.
It wasn’t until about three months later that I learned the social worker had lied to me on several different occasions. I’m not sure she ever shared a single truth.
We arrived home that day of Tom’s discharge and I fell into one of the worst weeks of my life. I met despair at our front door.
This is how it happens. One moment you are surrounded by alarms and buzzers in a cardiac unit and the next you are being wheeled out of the hospital. None of us are immune from this treatment.
Tom came close to dying that week, closer than any man and wife should ever have to go through when they have God and each other at their side. With tears in my eyes, I pray this will never happen to you or anyone you love. I cannot begin to tell you the unimaginable hell that I had yet to face. I will blog about it later but I can only write about this past year in short increments. It’s been an incredibly painful journey with the love of my life. The man I share my life with and wish to do so until death do us part.
Thank you for reading with me. I don’t write of our experiences to cause you needless fear about you or those you love. I want you to be prepared for what’s ahead and know that anyone, regardless of circumstances, could have this happen to them.
I appreciate your time.