In July, when Don came home from the hospital, we had home health care from the hospital's home health care agency.
The hospital was more than accomodating. The transition from an incredibly long, overwhelming hospital stay ...45 days ... to coming home was harder than I'd ever guessed it could have been. The agency seemed to understand that the adjustment was not going to be the piece of cake I expected it to be. I was so glad he was coming home! How could it be difficult?
He came home on a Friday or Saturday ... I don't remember now ... and on Saturday, the assessment was done. Monday,July 9th, the nurse assigned to his care came to our house. Professional, knowlegable, friendly and experienced ... we felt very comfortable .. even relieved with her being in charge of Don's care.
She'd been with the hospital's home health care for a number of years, and with the hospital for even longer ...a nurse for over 20. Most of those 20 years spent at this hospital. Her knowledge of Post polio syndrome and respiratory issues, especially regarding scoliosis was amazing. We didn't know if she'd studied up on it just to care for Don, or if she'd had experience with it before. It didn't matter. She knew how to care for Don ...and that was what was important.
She was supposed to come by Wednesday morning, and we didn't hear from her. Don, Wednesday afternoon, at 3:15, feeling caged in, after his long stay in the hospital, had his son take him to the coffee shop 2 blocks away. He'd be close enough to come home when she called to come over. She never called. We went to church that night, leaving Don home alone ... he thought he was doing well enough to be alone, but he started having trouble breathing ... and I had to leave church to come home and be with him. We started to talk about how we wished the nurse had came by like we thought we was scheduled to. We didn't know if his breathing troubles was expected or not.
We figured we mis understood ... maybe she'd come by on Thursday.
Friday Morning ... we hadn't heard from anyone in the home health agency ...not the nurse, not the PT, not the OT ... and by 11 I called the agency ... the supervisor called me right back. Very confused.
"are you sure?"
.... well, yeah ... I'm very sure ...
"well, the nurse said she saw Donald on Wednesday, but you weren't there, he was there alone."
Um mmm ... um ... no ma'am ... I was here all day.
"uh, let me call you back."
She called me back and asked permission to come out to the house.
She then showed us the file ... the nurses 'notes' of having been to our house from 3:30 to 3:55 ... complete with vital statistics ... and Don's signature ... only, it doesn't even remotely resemble Don's signature. Doesn't match their other signatures for Don either ... it does however, look like the nurse's handwriting.
Not only that, but we have the credit card reciept for 3:59 at the coffee shop... with Don's real signature ... for where he really was.
She didn't come by ...and she falsified records ...and she forged Don's signature.
Why in the world would a nurse for over 20 years ... completely falsify records ... why would she lie? Why would she say she'd seen him without the family present? Why would she forge his signature? Did she think that he was so incoherant that he wouldn't know the difference?
Does she realize the risk she put him at? It was really scary at the time to realize how much trouble breathing he had that night and we didn't know what we were to do about it ...and all we could think about was "I wish the nurse had come by"
It turned out ok ...and Don is only using oxygen occassionally, plus his bipap at night. He's walking with a cane ... still not driving. Still not able to open a can or jar ... still can't button his own jeans ... but he's doing well.
But today, I got a call from an investigator with the nursing board ... asking us to sign an afidavidt regarding the situation. We will. (she was very thrilled we were willing to cooperate) She said she couldn't go much into detail other than to say that there would likely be no plea bargaining, whatever that means)
It is a shame ... 20 year career ...just to avoid spending 30 minutes doing your job ... What a risk she put my husband at. I am friends ...both in real life and in the blog world with many medical professionals, and I can't imagine any of them risking their licence or career for this. I feel sorry for them when I think of this woman ... how many times they have to go the extra mile ... because of people like her ...
What was she thinking?