Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Rewritten; Why I'm Blogging...it started with a nursing home

Rewritten-Why I'm Blogging... it started with a nursing home
I am a Registered Nurse with a passion for senior care and advocacy. I have started this blog to help educate and inform seniors, and their families. I have witnessed countless families in crisis that have no idea what to do because they lack the information and resources to make prompt and educated decisions. The amount of stress these families have could be significantly decreased if they just knew what to do or where to turn.

My passion and advocacy started nearly 30 years ago when I was 17 years old and worked as a nurse’s aid in a nursing home. My friend's mother was the Administrator, and when I asked her for a job, she hesitated, saying "I don't think you can do it". I asked her for a chance and she gave me the job. My first day I worked 16 hrs, and saved a patient’s life. A patient started choking in the dining room, and no one knew what to do, not even my supervisor. I had seen the Heimlich Maneuver on TV, so I did it, and it worked. I felt great, and left after the first day knowing I could do the job.

This facility was supposed to be independent living. It had 3 floors. The 1st floor was independent, the second semi independent, and the 3rd...well, not even close. In that time, dementia and Alzheimer's was called senile, and the 3rd floor consisted of "senile" patients who had many physical disabilities which prevented them from caring for themselves at all. I was assigned 3rd floor afternoon shift. Maybe a test, I'm not sure, but I loved it! I claimed the patients as mine, and continued on my job. My responsibilities included serving dinner, and snacks, cleaning up my incontinent patients, half the patient’s baths and linen change weekly, and getting them all ready for bed at night. Day shift was responsible for the other half of the patient baths and beds.

One evening while checking the bath book for my assigned baths I looked at the sheets for day shift. I noticed the patients hadn't had baths in nearly a month. I went crazy bathing people, and by the end of the night had bathed 26 patients. Was this the start of my advocacy? Looking back, I believe it was. I looked at my patients as if they were my grandparents, and in some respect, they were. I cared for them as if they were my family, and have kept this empathy throughout my career.

When I was 25 yrs old I decided to go to nursing school because of that job in the nursing home. After graduation I took a position as a floor nurse in a nursing home. Upon hire the Director of Nursing reviewed my employment history and noticed my work at the college in the biology lab, which included responsibility for the microbiology labs. So I had significant knowledge and experience working with bacteria. I was then offered the Infection Control Nurse position on top of my floor nursing position. This nursing home was broke, and the care was less than satisfactory. As months went by it was rumored the Director of Nursing would be leaving. Several employees came to me asking if I would take the job. Initially I thought I didn't have the experience, but as time went on and I watched the Director, I knew I could do a better job. She left and I assumed the DON position. I immediately went to work to make the care and conditions better. I was fought with opposition, as I expected, but little did I know, it would also be from the administrator. I was given the authority to hire but not fire. The employees ran the facility, and the administrator could have cared less. They could neglect their patients, not show up to work, come in late or leave early, and dress as if they were cleaning their garage, and still keep their jobs. The administrator was more worried about the number of people in the building than what they were being paid to do. There were a handful of people employed there, that truly cared. They would come to my office, and we would cry together about the care and conditions. This job gave me more stress and frustration than I can describe, but I didn't want to abandon my patients. They needed the few who cared. Less than 2 months into the DON position I went to the administrator and told her I'd had enough of what was going on there. I said the care was horrible and the place was filthy! She came unglued, and immediately fired me. I called the State the next day and reported everything. I continued to visit my patients in the evening when the administrator wasn't there, but as time went on and my life became full with work, and family the visits diminished until I no longer visited. It was a very sad place for me because the patients deserved so much better, and I couldn't help them. I have never stopped thinking about my patients there.

After leaving there I worked for years in home health and hospice. I have also been a charge nurse in a psychiatric prison hospital, worked as an Infection Control Coordinator for the State of Michigan and for the last 7 years have owned Visiting Angels, a private duty senior homecare agency in Ann Arbor, Michigan. I am currently writing a book to improve the perception of senior's, particularly in the medical community. Check back for updates.

I wanted you to know my background so you understand where my knowledge and passion have come from. I want you to have the information and resources I've gathered over the last 30 years. Knowledge is power, and my goal is to empower seniors and their families before a crisis hits.

You can visit me at http://www.linkedin.com/in/angiltarachrn or learn more about Visiting Angels at http://www.visitingangels.com/
You can email me at vitingangelswc@comcast.net

1 comment:

  1. As I'm getting older I need knowledge to help me along This will be great


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