Before leaving my mother’s hospital room on Thursday night, I tried several rounds of teaching her how to use the nurse call button, on the plastic contraption that I left hanging on her bed. Although she was no longer in psycho land, she still could not master the art of pushing that red button.
I was very concerned, because she was in a room at the far end of the hall, and she had no roommate. In addition, she was speaking very quietly. So what would happen in the middle of the night, if something went wrong? Nobody would hear her. In addition, I was concerned, because in the 7 1/2 hour period that I was by her side, the nurse came by only once or twice.
So before going to sleep, I called the nurse, to express my concern and ask if my mother could be moved to another room. He suggested that I speak with the charge nurse. The charge nurse was quite brusque. He informed me that my mother certainly could not be moved until the next day at least. I asked if, considering the circumstances, he could speak with my mother’s nurse and request that the nurse visit my mother more frequently, say every half-hour.
The charge nurse was practically hostile, when he replied that “this is not one-on-one here. This is not an intensive care unit.” “I didn’t ask for one-on-one care,” I replied evenly. “I am simply asking that my mother be checked on more frequently — in case something happens in the middle of the night, and she needs help.”
“We can’t check on her every half-hour,” he replied, annoyed. “And besides, she can press the call button if she needs help.” “As I explained, the whole reason I’m asking for extra visits is that my mother is unable to press the call button,” I said. “If she needs help, nobody will know. I need someone to look in on her as much as possible.”
To his credit, the charge nurse agreed to ask my mother’s nurse to look in on my mother more frequently than normal. I then spoke with my mother’s nurse and shared what I had discussed with the charge nurse. My mother’s nurse assured me that the only reason he had not been looking in on my mother more frequently was because I had been there. “I’ll look in on her regularly, now that you’re gone.”
I said thanks and got off the phone, hoping my mother would be okay.