Painful observations

Posted: Thursday, March 28, 2002

Recently, I was in Juneau visiting family. Among those I visited was my niece, who is a resident at Wildflower Court. On my first visit I was impressed with the very beautiful building. We had an enjoyable and fun visit.

March 25, I went back to visit her again and say good-bye. When we arrived, I expected her to be just finishing lunch. Instead, we were told she was in her room because she was not feeling well. We went down the hall to her room, where we found her door shut. We went in to find her still in bed. She was crying and in pain. I have known this woman her entire life, and I can tell you she is not a whiner. To see her lying there all by herself and in pain broke my heart. Her call button was above her head and under her pillow where she could not reach it. She has multiple sclerosis and the only limb she can move is her left arm, which has limited movement. We notified one of the employees of her pain, and they informed us that they were aware of it and she would be getting some medication. We sat in her room for 32 minutes watching her pain and her tears before anyone came in. I do not know how long she was in this condition before we arrived, but I feel even 32 minutes is far too long for someone to be left alone in their room when they are in such pain. When these caregivers did come to her room, I was more aware of what I didn't see than what I did see. I did not see any compassion or empathy; I did not see one smile or even a gentle pat. What I did see were employees who were not enjoying their work.

When I left with tears in my heart, I took one of their brochures. After reading the Golden Rule statement, "To treat residents how we would wish to be treated," I felt I needed to let someone know of my experience. I only pray that if and when I enter a nursing home, the employees there want others to treat them with respect and compassion.

Mary Peterson


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