In the hospital wife left at home needing caregiver How would you get her help?

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Early in April I had a heart attack. My cardiologist sent me for chemical stress test. It was anticipated I would be home from NWH in three hours.
I was receiving a chemical stress test at Newton Wellesley Hospital out patient when the cardiologist stopped the test and transferred me to MGH.

I was admitted MGH over a weekend. Friday May 22 2016 Discharged Wednesday May 27 2016
I was Inpatient at MGH Main Campus

They did a Coronary Arteriogram and Placed Stent

My wife is cared for at home. Dorothy has Alzheimer's she can not be alone and requires 24x7 medical care givers. She receives Care Giver services from 10AM until 11PM. I provide her caregiving from 11PM until 10AM.
I immediately asked for help from someone at MGH.
Someone needed to immediate contact our agencies and get overnight care.

I was abandoned No help available. It was the weekend and hospital services were closed. I was told by a nurse they didn't make calls; I could make the calls myself. What was I to do Dorothy can not be alone. We have no family in the area.

Between the stress of not having the hospital open for testing and being stuck over the weekend I was in no shape to call agencies.

At other hospitals the case-manger or social worker made calls and helped out then followed up with me.

Fortunately Dot's caregiver on Friday afternoon knew there was a problem and called for added help.

What would have you done in this situation?

16 Comments

Just what you did, you had no choice. I am so glad her caregiver stepped up to help! I can not belive (yes I can ) that there was no social worker available to help. this is crap! I do not know about either of these hospitals, but they need to be held accountable! Good luck to you and Dot.. hope you feel better soon
What an unsettling and frustrating experience to go through - literally trapped in a hospital, no support from the staff for your wife at home alone, and I'm sure high levels of anxiety.

I think I would speak with the agency that provides the caregivers for the day and ask what arrangements could be made on a short term basis if a similar situation occurs. If you make arrangements ahead of time, and everything is set up, then a phone call to the agency should be able to provide overnight care, assuming they have someone available.

Another alternative when you get home is to research respite facilities that could accommodate Dorothy for a few days. I honestly don't know what these facilities would be called, and whether or not memory care or similar facilities have options for a few days' stay. But it's something worth consideration.

I would also research transportation in the area in the event Dorothy needed to be taken to the facility.

In addition, I'm wondering if there are any neighbors who could step in just to help with the arrangements - calling the facility, transportation, helping Dorothy pack, etc. If you made only one phone call, say to a trusted neighbor, that neighbor could put in motion the arrangements to get care for Dorothy. She could be authorized and the care agency advised that she has the authority to ask for overnight help.

I'm a bit confused about one aspect though - you mentioned the stress of "not having the hospital open for testing" - did that hospital only provide testing on weekdays, or on another limited schedule? Was this a small hospital?

As Pam commented, I'm also surprised there was no social worker to help. I can't help thinking this is a small hospital with limited staff and limited support for patients. Are there more accommodating hospitals that you could go to if (but hopefully not) a similar situation occurs in the future?
You need to have a plan in place should this ever happen again. First I would talk to the care agency to give them instructions on what to arrange if you are not around. Carry a card in your wallet in case something happens to you so someone is aware that your wife needa help!
{Q} If you make arrangements ahead of time, and everything is set up, then a phone call to the agency should be able to provide overnight care, ......
{Q}facilities that could accommodate Dorothy for a few days.
{Q} any neighbors who could step in just to help with the arrangements
{Q}I'm a bit confused about one aspect though - you mentioned the stress of "not having the hospital open for testing" - did that hospital only provide testing on weekdays, or on another limited schedule? Was this a small hospital?
{Q}As Pam commented, I'm also surprised there was no social worker to help. I can't help thinking this is a small hospital with limited staff and limited support for patients.
{Q}Are there more accommodating hospitals that you could go to if (but hopefully not) a similar situation occurs in the future?

{Was this a small hospital?} NOOO it is HUGE
Massachusetts General Hospital (Mass General or MGH) is the original and largest teaching hospital of Harvard Medical School and a biomedical research facility located in the West End neighborhood of Boston, Massachusetts. It is the third oldest general hospital in the United States and the oldest and largest hospital in New England with 950 beds. Massachusetts General Hospital conducts the largest hospital-based research program in the world, with an annual research budget of more than $750 million. It is currently ranked as the #1

I am a planing nut. There are expansive plans in place and they are summarized in a folder on the refrigerator at home.
The problem was not having someone at MGH to call the agency to set the plans in action. Years ago I had set up a autopay engagement with HomeInstead and they have provided around the clock care in past emergencies when I was unexpectedly hospitalized.

Had the transfer taken place from home the EMS would have read the FOL and implimented the plans. I was sent by ambulance from Newton Wellesley Hospital to MGH.
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I just learned yesterday the caregiver who was on duty with Dot that Friday recognized that more help was needed and had called the agencies.
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I would be in touch with the MGH patient advocacy department. I guarantee you that there are social workers on duty during weekends.
I think i would also carry a copy of that folder information with me.
{I think i would also carry a copy of that folder information with me.}

I do. I had a copy with me at Newton Wellesley Hospital. It was the in the clothing bag with my belongings that went with the ambulance to MGH. It had been folded up and mixed with the clothing. It wasn't found until I was getting dressed to go home.

Would not have done any good if no one would make the needed phone cals.
{I guarantee you that there are social workers on duty during weekends.}I asked the nurses repeatedly.I WILL be in touch with the MGH patient advocacy department. Every hospital has a "patient friendly" program. Years ago a patient advocate suggested I set up a knoweldge bog to encourage medial organizations to talk to each other. it is on LinkedIn "Patient Friendly Health Care. Talk about, debate, define: what it is to be patient friendly" Patient Friendly Health Care share YOUR input to { user centered design }services.Talk about and debate your own organization's guidelines and the needs of people who are strangers to Health Care Providers (i.e.Physicians, Hospitals, Nursing Homes, Rehab, and Other Care Services). Help develop patient focused policies and provider practices. Patients and visitors who are strangers to Nursing Homes hospitals, emergency departments, emergency rooms and the mind boggling array of titles not to mention inpatient and outpatient organization.
Design responses and guidelines to manage patient confusion, fear, cognitive issues and inform clients of what to expect.When I getting ready to leave the Chaplin came to see me. She said she had been told I needed to talk to someone.

There must be some kind of complaints mechanism in place at the hospital, I would make sure to file a written summary of what happened to you, perhaps copies should also be sent to any relevant hospital administrators and staff. They need to be made aware that this is a serious issue that they have failed to take into consideration, hopefully they can implement a plan for the future.
Cwillie so sorry both for the MI and the stress of leaving Dorothy. In future if there is absolutely no help call 911 and have her transported to the ER, they can't send her back to an empty house so they will find a place for her to be cared for. good luck with your recovery
Make your complaint directly to the Chief Medical Officer and/or the Board of Directors.

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