Decisions, Decisions — Part 2

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“Caring staff” — One of my roommates, a friendly and gentle middle-aged man, suffered from Elephantitis. He harbored an uncommon variety of the disease that merited his lecturing at out-of-state medical schools. Classic Elephantitis causes extreme swelling of the victim’s limbs or genitals; my roommate’s manifestations weren’t readily visible. Though his body remained normally proportioned, his unique version of Elephantitis had rendered him legally blind and extraordinarily weak, and had usurped control of his bladder. Unsteady on his feet, he shuffled like the Mummy after downing a handful of Quaaludes. He spent his last days confined to a wheelchair.

One afternoon toward the end of his pre-wheelchair period, on his way from his bed to our dresser, he fell to the linoleum floor. He weakly shouted for me to flip on the call-light and a stubby nurse who hosted a grossly oversized ass responded. Like most warehouse employees she considered the tally of residents who she subjugated tantamount to her worth as a person.

Her bottom-heavy frame hovered over my roommate’s prostrate body while she shook her pudgy finger and scolded him as if he had been a naughty child. She berated him for falling, then emphasized that she wouldn’t tolerate any resident interrupting while she wrote the daily reports. After the nurse finished her tirade she left the room, ignoring his pleas for help.

She returned a half hour later and asked him, “Well, did we learn our lesson about not bothering me?” He mumbled something about desperately needing to use the bathroom. Finally she helped him to his feet.

“Staff that encourages residents to live up to their potential” – The CNA’s regularly treated the adult residents as if they were slow children. While they necessarily used simple language expressed in an elementary manner when speaking to those afflicted by dementia or brain damage, most CNA’s dumbed-down their communications with all residents. Especially ignorant CNA’s referred to residents as ”babies.”

Cardboard laughing clown heads—the type you might find thumbtacked to the corkboard in a first grade classroom—decorated the door to the activities office. The out-of-touch activities staff had adorned the bulletin boards across from the elevators with similar juvenile crap.

“Residents treated with respect” — Poorly trained shady-looking “medical technicians” habitually barged into residents’ rooms and threw on the light at 3 or 4:00 am. Then they plunged dull needles of questionable sterility into residents’ arms and rooted around at length until they chanced upon a vein from which to draw blood. Often they spoke fractured English and couldn’t convey the pretense under which one of several substandard budget labs had sent them.

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