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Published on June 09, 2020

Grateful for great care

Grateful for Care

While much of medical care is being carried out from a social distance these days, the core values of compassion, caring and empathy remain. This was especially meaningful to me as a registered nurse of 48 years at a time when I felt helpless and unable to be with my mother during a recent Falmouth Hospital admission and surgery.

My mother, Teresa Collins is a 92-year-old fiercely independent woman who insists on taking caring of her own needs and is not inclined to call anyone for help to assist her. While she tolerates constant reminders to use her walker when she ambulates, those words of caution and a reminder for safety often fall on deaf ears, literally.

When she fell and broke her hip a couple of weeks ago at the height of the Covid-19 epidemic, it was disconcerting knowing that she would have to go to the hospital for evaluation and treatment.

I received the call early in the morning from one of her nurses at the Bourne Manor Extended Care Facility in Buzzards Bay where my mother resides.

She had fallen during the night on her way back to bed from the bathroom.

When I was told she was being transferred to the hospital for further evaluation due to her increasing pain level, I requested Falmouth Hospital.

Within a couple of hours from the initial phone call, my mother was transferred, evaluated and diagnosed. Taylor, a kind and compassionate ER nurse called me twice to update me on my mother’s diagnosis, condition and plans for possible impending surgery once she was seen by an orthopedic surgeon.

She was admitted to the fourth floor and evaluated by Karen Trait-O’Malley, MS PA-C, an orthopedic physician assistant who works with Donald E. O’Malley, MD, a Falmouth Hospital orthopedic surgeon. She contacted me to review my mother’s diagnosis, her impending surgery that afternoon, the procedure and the goal of the operation.

She explained that the surgery would help to alleviate her pain and enable her to do physical therapy with the goal of walking again. She was kind and understanding in responses to my questions while alleviating my fears.

I had to give permission for her surgery and anesthesia over the phone and I thought it was ironic that I received the call in the parking lot of the hospital when I arrived to drop off a few personal items with security to give to my mother. It was also sad because I knew I was about four sets of doors away from her standing in the main entrance while she was on her way to surgery.

Messages of Gratitude

As I turned to leave the hospital, unable to offer any words or comfort of solace to my mother, I noticed something bright that caught my eyes on the ground to the side of the front door. It was a Gratitude Garden of cheerfully decorated rocks with messages written on them thanking the doctors and hospital staff for all their hard work.

It gave me some comfort to see the messages as it reminded me of The Kindness Rocks Project that my friend Megan Murphy started. It is a project that brings comfort and words of inspiration to so many around the world and here it was doing the same for me in a moment of need. 

Heart of Kindness

I cannot give enough accolades to all the nursing staff and nurses’ aides who took such great care of my mother. Julie, RN, at the main entrance who recognized me and offered words of reassurance, Taylor in the ED, the recovery room nurses who called me to update me after surgery, the staff on the fourth floor including Kristen, Nicole, Tracy who were compassionate and kind and the cheerful voice of Corinne who I spoke to almost every day.

Dr. O’Malley, Karen Trait O’Malley explained the surgery very clearly, offered reassurance and listened to my concerns. Michael A. Herzig, MD a Falmouth Hospital anesthesiologist discussed the options of anesthesia and was truly kind, empathetic and understanding when we needed to discuss her standing DNR (do not resuscitate) order that is among her final wishes. As this was emergency orthopedic surgery, it was anticipated that this would not be an instance where those decisions would need to be made but if so, we would make them, as necessary.

My mother spent four days at Falmouth Hospital and is back at Bourne Manor in the rehab section of the facility. As a precautionary measure, she remains in an isolation room. She is comfortable and working her way through a challenging time.

My mother, family and I are grateful for the care she received at Falmouth Hospital. She told me all the staff was so kind to her and took great care of her. She said she also felt lucky knowing she had family outside of the hospital thinking of her and making sure she was taken care of even though she could not see us.

The staff and physicians made a potentially worrisome and unknown journey in this chaotic and stressful time much easier for me and my family than we anticipated.

I think that is all we can ask for in this pandemic and be thankful that our hospitals are prepared to take care of us in any situation. It is reassuring to know that the great medical care we need for medical emergencies unrelated to this virus is still ever-present.