Tuesday, August 11, 2009

New hospice nurse

I do not like confrontation. I do not like to think I'm hurting someone's feelings. I don't like to create drama.

But I am Steve's advocate for the best possible care.

So today I gathered the courage to ask our hospice agency to assign a new RN to Steve.

"Tom," Steve's nurse since we started hospice service in early July, has been antagonistic at times. For weeks I have tried to ignore his bedside manner and focus on the competent care he was providing Steve.

After discussing the situation with Steve, Dr. M and others, I decided that we could no longer overlook Tom's attitude and demeanor. He's just not a good fit for our family right now.

Twice he told me that Steve's body could be riddled with tumors. Both times I told him that glioblastomas don't metastasize outside the brain or spinal column. (The second time I was more forceful than the first.) He speculated that congestive heart failure had caused Steve's swollen arm -- even though he'd seen no vital signs or EKG results. He actually hadn't even examined Steve when he threw out heart failure.

There were many other moments during our time together when I would think, "He's making this process more difficult than it already is." There's enough difficult about Steve's situation now -- we don't need layers of stress needlessly added.

I don't want this part of the journey to be muddled with a personality that doesn't fit into our home. I want Steve to be treated with nothing but dignity. I want him to be surrounded by all the love and positive energy and warmth and compassion that he deserves.

The hospice agency's social worker and clinical director were very helpful and understanding when I requested the change. I expect we'll meet the new nurse in the next couple of days.


Laura (Ambrook) Redmond from UM MMB said...

OMG! This just infuriates me as a professional nurse. There is absolutely NO excuse for even one comment this incompetant made to you! The fear,uncertainty, and stress of cancer are enough without having it fueled with inane comments(and a completely, blatantly WRONG assessment of Steve's symptoms/troubles as well.) As an advanced practice nurse, I apologize on behalf of all nurses for this person. Hospice is about gentleness, compassion, and understanding above all else and if he cannot practice this, he should leave this practice area- if not the nursing profession itself. Thank God you are a wonderful advocate for Steve and did not put up with this. There are much better hospice nurses available and I pray one is assigned that has those 3 qualities I mentioned in spades. Hang in there honey- you are doing the right things and a new caregiver will come your way that will be a blessing. :)

Anonymous said...

Good for you!!!

Chitnis and Chahal said...

You did the right thing. This is not acceptable. As someone said, hospice is supposed to make things very easy and peaceful for the family. Steve deserves nothing but the best of care and compassion. What a jerk that nurse. Who talks like this? If I had a nurse talking like this to any of my patients, he would be out of the door right away. This guy needs to not be a hospice nurse, competant or not, compassion and sensitivity comes first. Sorry you had to go through this, won't happen again, I really hope.

chapman.d said...

I am so glad you said something. It is unfortunate that it takes folks being treated badly for an employer to see that this person does not represent them well and their mission. I'm just sorry that you had weeks of incompentence to endure in the first place. Blessings to and much love.

Anonymous said...

I had "ISSUES" like that with one of the nurses while my dad was in the hospital. I finally got in her face and told her to "NEVER step foot near my father or utter his name again"... don't think I ever saw her around him again. I was pretty touchy when it came to daddy.... he was my world... I didn't like anyone treating him with less than the utmost respect. It's how it should be unless the patient is awful, but even then.. compassion should be there at all times.
the way you handled things was MUCH better than I did. You are Steve's voice right now. You did the right thing standing up for him. Someone like that should NOT be working with hospice. Hospice should be all about compassionate loving people. I'm so sorry you had to experience that.
May God send your family a LOVING, COMPASSIONATE, CHRISTIAN hospice nurse. One that will not only care for, but minister to you all at the same time. They are out there!
Our love and prayers for you and your family.

Suzanne Vetter said...

So sorry Tyra and Steve. I find it hard to even formulate a comment although I too am a nurse. I worked for many years caring for cancer patients before the advent of 'hospice' nursing. All the nurses I worked with embodied the ethics of what was to become hospice nursing.I so wish I were in Texas and could assist you at this time. One of my own personal practices is to care for my patients as though they were my family members; my daughter,my son, my parents,my husband. I put aside my pre-conceived ideas and look for the "person" not the label. I am protective of my patients, standing up for them, beside them or in front of them if need be; sometimes just sitting with them.
I have followed you on this journey from the beginning, I have you in my thoughts and prayers daily. Please know that somewhere near you is a nurse who cares and will come to be with you on this leg of your journey. I send love from Maryland from a member of your extended earthly family.

Anonymous said...

Good job, Tyra!!

Natalie Willis said...

I know it was hard for you. You handled it beautifully and always, always have your family and their best interest at heart.

anniemcq said...

Good job, Tyra. That person needs to find another line of work.

Anonymous said...

You did exactly right and handled it wonderfully. I am sorry that you both had to endure his inconsiderate comments up til now.
Good job, Tyra!

Anonymous said...

Thinking of you Tyra, and so proud of you for continuing to advocate for Steve and doing what needs to be done.

You guys are in my thoughts every day.