Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Abide With Me

Abide with me; fast falls the eventide;The darkness deepens; Lord with me abide.When other helpers fail and comforts flee,Help of the helpless, O abide with me.Swift to its close ebbs out life’s little day;Earth’s joys grow dim; its glories pass away;Change and decay in all around I see;O Thou who changest not, abide with me.Not a brief glance I beg, a passing word;But as Thou dwell’st with Thy disciples, Lord,Familiar, condescending, patient, free.Come not to sojourn, but abide with me.Come not in terrors, as the King of kings,But kind and good, with healing in Thy wings,Tears for all woes, a heart for every plea—Come, Friend of sinners, and thus bide with me.Thou on my head in early youth didst smile;And, though rebellious and perverse meanwhile,Thou hast not left me, oft as I left Thee,On to the close, O Lord, abide with me.I need Thy presence every passing hour.What but Thy grace can foil the tempter’s power?Who, like Thyself, my guide and stay can be?Through cloud and sunshine, Lord, abide with me.I fear no foe, with Thee at hand to bless;Ills have no weight, and tears no bitterness.Where is death’s sting? Where, grave, thy victory?I triumph still, if Thou abide with me.Hold Thou Thy cross before my closing eyes;Shine through the gloom and point me to the skies.Heaven’s morning breaks, and earth’s vain shadows flee;In life, in death, O Lord, abide with me.

Henry Francis Lyte-1847

Henry Francis Lyte wrote this hymn three weeks before he died of tuberculosis. The verses could have been written yesterday by any number of people residing in the skilled nursing facility where I work. In fact, I thought they were because this morning I woke up dreaming about the hymn. I was out in the middle of nowhere with people from the facility all around me. I can't consciously remember ever hearing that hymn but must have heard it at some point in my life to have dreamed about it. So, this morning I looked up the lyrics and it was as if I already knew them. I live with them every day I work. I also knew I had to write about what is going on there. To the casual observer or even the state inspectors who comb the building for a week at a time, twice a year, it would seem the level of care is at best quite good and at least, adequate. But, to those who work there and truly care, it is a very different picture. Unfortunately, within the confines of a care for profit facility, the degradation of human dignity knows no bounds. In a company where care worker to patient ratio takes precedence over patients rights, where character is not a prerequisite to employment, where short staffing, unpaid overtime and working through breaks are the norm, the unthinkable happens all too routinely.
Recently, in his blog CODYNUS, my brother alluded to some things he had discovered were going on within the facility where we both work. He didn't want to discuss them at the time, probably due to considerations for his sources. I agreed with him then but after some recent developments, no longer have such reservations. When you learn that a resident can pummel another to the point of hospitalization, all within twenty feet of the nursing station, and is not removed from the facility, you wonder how this can happen. When you hear that CNA's are taking crotch shots of residents with their picture phones and sending them back and forth, you ask why aren't these perverts in jail. When a half dozen residents "fall down" in the same week and have goose eggs on the same side of their faces, you think what a coincidence. When a resident on full oxygen sets himself on fire while smoking because a CNA was too busy or to careless, you think there but for the grace of God.
Working in the dietary department, we are accustomed to feeding deceased residents for days and even weeks before the nursing department decides to notify us. It is only later that we discover the CNA's and nurses have been eating their meals. We have noticed residents sitting in their own excrement while eating in the dining room. We see residents sleep through meals because somebody doesn't want to be bothered with having to get them up and wheel them down to feed them.
The story we are hearing this week is corporate is coming to investigate the cell phone pics and the resident beat down. But it is kind of like the Falkland Islands War between the British and Argentina back in 1982. For three weeks the Brits sailed down and blew their trumpets, warning the Argentines that they were going to kick some ass. When they got there, the war lasted a few days and both countries, to this day, still claim the islands. Coporate has been coming for a week now and still is not here. Do you think you could erase some cell pics in a couple of weeks. And the bugles blow.


Lexey said...

Wow. Dad. I hope you guys went back to the state with all this information. Think about calling the newspaper. Seriously.

mom said...

The problem with being the one to bring them down a notch or two is that you lose your job.
NV minimum wage $6.85, less than CA, NV cost of living = to if not greater than CA. Job market here sucks and right now even tipped jobs are way off.
If we stay we might be able to be a force of good for the residents. If we're gone our jobs will probably be filled with indifference. Definately a crap shoot for the residents and us if we leave (or get the boot).

Lexey said...

If the newspaper is called, perhaps anonymously through someone, say...in Florida, perhaps that will do some good. Not just for your residents but across the board. Maybe the state would be forced to look at all facilities like this one and they would be forced to improve care.

Helen said...

Lexey you are right. I think you should do it. Papa and Amma you are the angels for those residents right now. I agree it needs to be fixed. I know it can not be done overnight but your presents and love for the elderly will help them one day at a time.

irvmarmik said...

I wouldn't love you girls so much if you didn't have such big hearts. But Amma is right, if we lose our jobs they will fill the void with give a shit. You have to think of it like fishing on a frozen lake. The ice is very, very thin. But have faith. God has a way of resolving all that is wrong with our world-one step at a time. I know in my heart that if we just try to do the right thing by all of these helpless folks all will be well.