This is bumped from the comments.
Deborah Cooke is developing into a frequent and insightful commenter and I am always pleased when I see her name pop up on my screen.
Here’s an experience I encountered today while walking home from work. I should have written down some names and reported these guys myself. They aren’t medical professionals, but in my opinion, it still deserves a report. See below and you’ll see why. Sorry for the lengthy story, but it’s very intriguing and quite pathetic.
I’m walking by Bellevue hospital and see an older gentleman scooting (on his butt) in the hospital’s drop off area. He’s in a blind spot, so any car could come around and hit him. He’s a bit disheveled so I pass him off as homeless (shelter is just up the block). I decide to walk past and ignore it, but after about 30 feet, I just couldn’t do it. I turned back and asked if he needed help. “Yes. I don’t want money, I just need to get across the street to the park.” Remember, he’s scooting on his fanny; still on hospital property; and wanting to cross a very busy 5 lane avenue. I can hardly cross in the length of time given for the walk light.
The guy said he could stand and had his discharge paperwork…all true. He stands; his legs are pencil thin; he has extreme kyphosis; his feet turn outward; and he had some psych issues (not bad, but I could see him spitting at someone if he got frustrated enough). He literally takes baby steps and about every 3rd step, he looks like he’s going to fall (on his head of course). I just can’t leave his side.
Finally, hospital security arrives and I ask for a wheelchair to get this guy across the street. They won’t do it since it’s hospital property and could be liable if something happened. Also, they wouldn’t touch him. They kept demanding he go back to the ER, which he wouldn’t. “I just want to cross the street and sit in the park.” He demonstrates he can stand and walk independently. When security refuses to help him, he sits back down. I still can’t leave the guy. In the meantime, I real police car drives by and security starts to flag him down. I immediately said not to since I knew it would cause more harm than good for a number of reason. So, here’s security who won’t even touch him (in my opinion they aren’t trained). They ask him to stand up (I said he could) and walk. He does start to get up in his own way, but because they are impatient, they do end up pulling him up by pulling his hands. I’m just thinking they’ll dislocate this guy’s shoulder.
All along I’m coaching them as best as possible, without the guy hearing me (that went well..really not at all). Finally after about 20 minutes, I convince security to stop traffic so I can help the guy across (since it would take about 6 lights to cross). So, I help the guy across; security is yelling at him to go faster; this guy is tired; talks about being a Vietnam vet. While I thank him for his service, security continues to yell at him to cross. Now, his bad side starts to come out. I’m not afraid or nervous since I deal with this at work. More importantly, I have gained his trust. We finally get to the other side. Security quickly disappears. I get the guy to a bench while he’s still in his other mind. He starts talking about roses and get a dozen for his wife (of course, I think that was his way of thanking me). As I back away, I give him a thumbs up.
As I cross back, a huge crowd has gathered to “watch,” not help, the scene (then a guy tries to pick me up). This incidence just made my interesting day even more interesting, but helped me feel grateful for what I have. But then I was very saddened by the insensitivity and lack of education of everyone (as they did nothing but stare), especially hospital employees. Our communities need more and our seniors deserve respect (whether homeless, psychotic, rich, or poor).
This kind of thing happens BECAUSE our health care system is rule-centered not person-centered.