Living independently as senior citizens, we have been posed with a hard fact and harsh reality over this last misadventure in American healthcare– It’s not a question of If. It’s a question of When. Something Happens. It could be a knee or hip replacement planned surgery or to remedy an age-related illness or to address an unplanned sports injury, a car accident, or a recurring adverse effect from vaccine injury.
The length of hospital stay can be elusive. It depends on getting the right bed at the right time for the proper treatment. Incorrectly placed patients either end up on an overcrowded floor, understaffed, with the wrong level of care, and/or being treated by clinical staff who do not specialize in their condition, leading to slower recovery times or complications. One RN’s philosophy was that a hospital is not a place for quiet and recovery—a reality check. And there’s a need to decrease hospital-acquired conditions.
Hospitals like to move people out as quickly as possible because their reimbursements are tied to the condition being treated. Rehab hospitals are less expensive, and bills are usually tied to Medicare reimbursement. While their primary goal is attainable levels of physical, cognitive, emotional, psychological, social, and economic usefulness and, after that, an individual’s ability to function optimally, a recent study found that rehab hospitals are dangerous places where mistakes are common.
Merriam-Webster defines Iatrogenesis as: “inadvertent and preventable induction of disease or complications by the medical treatment or procedures of a physician or surgeon.” A Department of Health and Human Services Office of the Inspector General report (2016) shows that 29 percent of Medicare beneficiaries experienced adverse events during their rehab, resulting in temporary harm, prolonged stays, or transfers to other hospitals; permanent injury; life-sustaining interventions; or death.
Physicians attributed much of the preventable harm to substandard treatment, inadequate patient monitoring, and failure to provide needed treatment– ergo, Yuri’s third near-death experience.
Ensuring that he receives appropriate services that meet standards for quality and are not exposed to infectious agents represented a major challenge for me. I couldn’t check out the rehab personally because Yuri would have been left alone over the weekend, and the hospital was a ghost town on weekends. Roaming the halls Saturday morning with a security officer looking for an open cafe reminded me of the Breakfast Club movie– empty, echoing corridors with limited healthy snacks in vending machines.
The website photos looked beautiful, so I thought this rehab would be a good choice for Yuri, who is vaccine-injured, immunosuppressed, and a recent survivor of another autoimmune attack and pneumonia. After his miraculous rebound that astounded and confounded the doctors, he was given the okay to get into a different rehab that would help his physical recovery. I thought Yuri would get good care, good treatment, and good therapy.
We’re not in Kansas anymore, although I cannot say that being surrounded by fields and fields and fields of corn now in harvest season doesn’t have me feeling I am in the Midwest and on the lookout for tornadoes (and keeping a watchful eye for ruby slippers). However, we are also not in Chester, New Jersey, where Yuri’s stay at Kessler Institute for Rehabilitation was a positive experience in a clean, safe environment, an essential setting for his positive outcome.
I arrived fifteen minutes after Yuri was transported to Cadia Pike Creek, Wilmington, Delaware. One step into this semi-private room, I knew I was taking him home! The smell of BM defecation permeated the cramped “semi-private” space that looked like an abandoned motel room. Dank and gray walls and floor, it was dirty and decrepit. The worst I could have ever imagined. Yuri lay on a bed set low, inches off the floor, and covered with a dirty-looking duvet cover. Dirty laundry in the corner. The hallway was noisy and chaotic. No way was I going to allow another minute there.
We made our decision known to the admin, who could not understand our unhappiness. What did we expect? We expected what was displayed on the website—fraudulent advertising. Buyer beware. It insults seniors who have no choice but to take this crap. Since the days of decades ago, when my father experienced rehab, I vowed never to let anyone I loved go through such awful, painfully indignant scenarios.
With a grateful look and despite his fragile state, Yuri made a monumental effort to leave the premises. It took every ounce of strength for him to climb into the passenger seat– riding shotgun– and escape in our getaway car. I couldn’t drive out of the parking lot fast enough. It’s going to be DIY in coordination with our doctors. We spent the evening relaxed and happy with our decision. Better food and clean, comfortable surroundings are the best care we can afford. Being together after a three-week hospital-rehab-hospital situation was long enough. Carpe diem.
So, if you or someone you love has to go into a rehab facility, beware: there is roughly a one in three chance there will be harm caused by the care, i.e., medication errors, bedsores, falls, or infections. Preventable. Do not assume the patient will be protected. Anyone entering such a facility needs an advocate warrior with Ninja vigilance.