Friday, September 26, 2008

People Need a Sense of Purpose

So I admitted this lady to the facility who weighs 460 pounds. Maybe that doesn't seem like such a big deal. In Utah it's very rare to find a place that will accept someone that large and it's unheard of to accept someone that size who has a diagnosis of depression. Apparently in my state, large people, people with a psych diagnosis and people with dementia are no longer welcome. The welcome mat is gone. Nursing homes are turning away these patients in droves because it's not worth the money to take care of them. A nursing home with a typical long term care patient on Medicaid gets reimbursed about 135.00 per day. Someone with dementia, someone who is morbidly obese and someone with a psych diagnosis (the usual Medicaid patient) requires a lot more care than some little petite lady with a broken hip who is there for a Medicare stay. The big difference is that the nursing home will get about 450.00 a day to take care of her.

Enough said about that!! Back to my lady friend who I will call Jean.

When the discharge planner at the hospital called me I asked how much she weighed. "How high does your scale go?" 400 pounds, I said. That's how much she weighs as luck would have it!! "Any behavior issues?" "None." So I said I'd take her.
Jean was one of the largest people I've ever seen. The first time I saw her I groaned on the inside thinking of the complaints I would hear from the CNAs. We soon discovered our scale wasn't big enough, so we had to go out and buy a new scale. Boy, this day wasn't going well!!!! At first she stayed in her room when she wasn't in therapy. I went by a couple of times that first week and encouraged her to come to the dining room and eat with the residents. Eventually she did and over time something amazing happened. Her whole countenance changed.
Today I stopped by her room and saw her busily working at her sewing machine. "Making another blanket I see." Yes, she was busy making and delivering blankets to the longterm residents. She had a big smile on her face as she showed me her latest creation. Earlier in the day I had seen her sitting in the lunchroom with a group of ladies talking and laughing. Here's basically what she said:

"Getting sick, going to the hospital and coming here is the best thing that's ever happened to me in my life. At home I was always alone. My husband is a long haul trucker so I don't see him much, and I was trapped inside my house because I was too big to go anywhere. I couldn't visit any of my friends from church because I couldn't do stairs and no one would ever come and see me and so I was really depressed. Coming here has opened my eyes to how much love people need and making these blankets is an expression of the love I feel inside. I have so much to give."

I have a dream. That someday people will be able to see beyond the number on the scale, beyond the diagnosis and really see the person on the inside. See their worth just like The Savior does. All people need love, care and a sense of purpose.

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