Nursing home reveille played on bed pans at 4 a.m.; then it gets worse

The Vindicator has done some very good investigative stories. Here’s a suggestion for another: nursing homes.

I had serious foot surgery and after a whole 24 hours in the hospital, I was sent to a nursing home rehab facility, and although the rooms look nice, it’s all show and no substance.

My first clue of the coming conditions was being put into a “holding pen” as there was no actual bed in rehab. It was the Alzheimer’s long-term care floor. The service was slim to none. Patients moaning and yelling, and buzzers going on 24/7. It was so noisy, they could have used it for a torture device at Guantanamo. Sleep was impossible.

The food was another clue. It was like something out of a Dickens novel. You never would have heard Oliver Twist say “please, sir, may I have some more.” It was not only poor quality, but had a terrible taste and was often unidentifiable.

One big problem is lack of staff. Many try to do the job, but they are overwhelmed. Like every workplace, you have lazy ones. I was to take pain medication every 6 hours and by the time they brought it 3 hours late, the pain built up and took longer to help. One day I had no water all day and my lips were parched and dried. I had to call a friend to bring me bottled water, crackers and edible food. It was like a hospital in a third world country where family and friends bring food, etc. for the patient.

After 31/2 days I was moved to the rehab area. Same food, and service was a little better but to survive, I had to take care of myself. One leg in a cast, hopping with the other leg on a walker (2010 medical care!). I dressed myself, like an acrobat, sponged bathed myself, etc. I asked for towels and they said “oh, you want rags”. They weren’t kidding! The towels were so small and thin, most people use them for rags.

Working hours start at 4 a.m. for everyone — staff and patients. They bang on an open door, turn on bright lights, talk at the top of their voices, crush pills (I think they use a sledge hammer). My roommate needed a pill and machine for her surgery; why did she have to get them at 4 a.m.? Why do I have to wake up to the lights and yelling and pounding at 4 a.m.? They plan their day to accommodate themselves, not the patients.

The floor was swept once a week — never saw it washed. The toilet didn’t work for a day and we were told to use it, but not flush it. With help, patients could go to the bathroom with a walker, but because no one answered the “call button,” they wet the bed. How humiliating and degrading.

The rehab was very good and so were the therapists, which is why I chose the place. Had I known about all the other things I would never have gone there. I was to stay 3-6 weeks; I left after 11 days.

I don’t have to put the name of the place. From what I’ve heard from other people, this could be any nursing/rehab facility. It’s costing hospitalization plans and government programs a fortune. But it is probably one of the biggest scams being perpetrated on the public. It’s a disgrace to have conditions as this in America.

Terry Gallagher, Youngstown