Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Grandma Gets the Shaft

I try to visit my grandmother at least once a month in the Bronx nursing home where she's now been for two years since being diagnosed with dementia. I know the nursing staff, they know me and someone always has some (usually) funny story to tell me about Grandma's exploits when I arrive.

But last Sunday was different. Two of my aunts, my son and I arrived only to find that she had been moved to another building in the facility FIVE DAYS earlier. The move changed all that had become routine and familiar over the last two years for her, including her doctors and nurses, her social worker, her room and roommate. And to make matters worse, no one from the facility even bothered to call and let me - listed as the family contact person on every record they have - know what the heck was going on.

Steamed, I called the administrative office first thing Monday morning to find out who would now be the contact on the nursing home's end if the family had questions or concerns. The new social worker was not in at 9:15am, so I left a message. I left another at 11am and was about to leave yet another at 11:30am when she finally answered her phone. Her weak apology over how their lack of contact forced our visit to begin like a wild goose chase did little to make me feel better. And that she just didn't get that bothered me even more.

The nursing home is over an hour away. The main reason I haven't transfered my grandmother closer is because she seemed comfortable and had developed a routine and good relationship with her roommate. Convenience for me didn't seem like enough of a reason to cause her any undue stress. But not only has that apple cart now been upset, nobody thought it important enough to notify the family about what was going on or why it was necessary. Does it really seem like her best interests are even a concern?

I asked the social worker about the procedure for having Grandma moved to another nursing home and found out the leg work will be on me as far as finding one in our area that takes Medicaid and that has a space for her. I just have to call her with the info when I find one, Ms. Social Worker said. I wanted to reach through the phone, grab her by the collar and shake the spit our of her mouth for all the help she offered. Instead, I thanked her and hung up.

This crap is so overwhelming it isn't even funny.

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