In the ongoing daily struggle against health-care incompetence, the major event of the week was The Nursing Home Gambit. It began when the chief of medical staff came in to say that Blue Cross was refusing to cover any further treatment at the pretend hospital. He announced this development as he loomed over Max’s bed. Is this correct protocol? Oh well.
Two days later, I called the “hospital” case manager about getting a bed near a window, and she revealed that Max needed to be discharged to a facility with a lower level of care. I laughed and repeated the words “lower level of care” thinking, Is that even possible? I warned her that we would not agree to any discharge until I had visited the new facility.
She gave me the addresses of two facilities that Blue Cross was willing to pay for. My friend Mark drove me to the first one, a convalescent home called something like “Windsor Palace” and located in the hood.
We tried parking in the tiny garage under the building but the stench was intolerable. Mark dropped me off at the entrance, where two old codgers were hanging out in wheelchairs. The codgers seemed pleasant, and one of them helped me when I felt dizzy and nearly fainted.
Inside, the scene was surreal. A “receptionist” sat at a small card table. Next to her, a white-haired old lady sat in a wheelchair, wearing a pink house-coat and a long rosary, wailing mournfully in a high-pitched tone at the top of her lungs. I said in a cheerful voice that I’d come to look around on behalf of my son.
A nice young Hispanic guy appeared and said he had just reviewed Max’s records. His supervisor had decided that they were not able to offer Max the care he needed. I exclaimed, “Oh thank god!” and he walked me to the door. Outside, waiting for Mark to pick me up, I chatted with the two codgers. They confirmed that no one ever visited any of the residents, although “the CNA will sometimes spend some time with you if she likes you.”
Back at the “hospital,” I called Blue Cross. The guy I talked to said that they hadn’t denied any authorization for care from the “hospital.” Haha, false alarm! Or, more sinister, perhaps the “hospital” just wants to get rid of Max because he requires more care than a helpless old octogenarian with a tracheotomy.
Here is the thing to keep in mind: If you are considering a nursing home for one of your loved ones, it may be more merciful to simply kill them, if Windsor Palace is the norm, and I believe it is. I personally would much prefer to end it all with a quick blunt object to the back of my head than to spend my last months or years in a stinking hellhole where nobody reacts to my screaming and the CNA might spend time with me if she likes me.