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FROM THE EDITOR'S PEN  /Three Little Words/  Editorial List

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Three Little Words

The call from her brother came for Trudy in the middle of her work day. Her mom, who had been ill for a few years, had passed away. Trudy left work immediately and set out for her brother’s house. This was a four-hour trip which Trudy had taken almost every weekend since her mom became ill. Trudy’s brother Bob, in whose home their mom had been living, was the primary caregiver during these past few years. After the funeral, Trudy returned home only to receive another phone call from her brother’s house. This time the call came from her sister-in-law. Bob had had a heart attack and needed an immediate triple bypass. Trudy was on the road once again.

A few nights later, as she sat by her unconscious brother’s bedside in the regional hospital, Trudy began to realize that his bed sheets had become soiled and would need to be changed. She went out to the nurse on duty, who told her that no one would be able to attend to her brother for at least an hour, when the paperwork was finished. So Trudy returned to the room and changed his sheets by herself. When we spoke after her return home, Trudy told me that she did not argue with the nurse because she was afraid that any disagreement would affect her brother’s care. I was not too surprised because many caregivers I talk with have the same concern: “If I am a squeaky wheel, my loved one’s care will suffer.”

My answer to Trudy was to respond with three little words, to be said firmly and repeatedly until she is satisfied with the results. Those three words: “Who’s your supervisor?”

Three other appropriate words in this situation would be: Document, document, document.

Although I would hope that any disagreement with your loved one’s care staff can be handled in a calm and professional manner, and I know of countless professionals who diligently work toward providing every patient the best possible care, any attempt to elicit retribution upon your loved one for your comments should be dealt with seriously, immediately and possibly even legally.

Share your experience dealing with the health care system and your loved ones


Gary Barg


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