Care and Education - A Recovering Team Effort
By Mary Ellen South
When you are admitted to a hospital or healthcare facility, you usually have a condition or emergency that is attended to immediately. Cardiac concerns, broken bones, digestive challenges all fall into categories of “fixable conditions.” When a patient with a chronic condition comes to Beebe Healthcare, there is an additional element of care.
Such was the finding of Senators resident, Patty Bennett, this past summer. Education became a large part of her one week stay at Beebe. Patty suffers from Multiple Sclerosis which was diagnosed several years ago. In July 2018 she had just returned from her daughter’s wedding in the mountains of North Carolina. It was extremely hot and humid with most of the activities outside. As the mother of the bride, she also shared in the stress of logistical challenges and things not turning out as planned.
Two days after she returned home, she was playing Scrabble with friends when she experienced symptoms which her friends immediately recognized as a possible stroke and called 911. She spent the night and first day in the Emergency Department while a battery of tests were done. She was then admitted to a room on the 4th floor in the Step Down Unit. This is the location providing intermediate levels of care between the Intensive Care Unit and the general medical- surgical wards. The staff continued with tests to rule out all possibilities before a determination was reached on what caused the symptoms that brought her to the hospital. Patty states, “They wouldn’t let me go home until they determined what was going on.”
The attending doctors discovered that it was the set of conditions she had experienced during the week of the wedding that had exacerbated her MS and presented like a stroke. Patty follows a regimen of water classes in the pool everyday to keep her condition at bay which she had neglected due to the heavy social schedule.
She learned a lot from her hospital stay which has provided an education for a new way of life:
– Daily medications given at optimal times
– Working with a cardiac diet, especially avoiding salt
– Being aware of how extreme temperatures affect MS and how to take cues from others
around her. (If others are sweating and she is not, she needs to immediately seek out a cooler environment, preferably in air conditioning.)
– Learning about proper pillow positioning under the legs while in bed
Beebe Home Care Services worked with Patty once she returned home. She learned many new things but most importantly how to understand her body’s movement while walking and how to best support her body while exercising.
Beebe Home Care Services is accredited by The Joint Commission and has been serving Sussex County since 1985 with a goal of supporting patients in living their best lives at home. It serves patients throughout Sussex County and beyond and has more than 70 specialized employees including nurses, physical therapists, occupational therapists, speech-language pathologists, licensed clinical social workers, and other health professionals. Beebe Home Care Services has been named a “2018 HomeCare Elite Top Agency.” The 2018 HomeCare Elite is the compilation of the most successful home care providers in the United States. This market leading review names the top 25% of agencies based on performance reviews. This year those measures include quality of care, quality improvement, patient experience, best practices implementation and financial management. The data for this study is based on publicly available information.
Patty is an educator by profession, so appreciated all she learned during her stay at Beebe and with Home Care Services. She grew up in Massachusetts and taught math where she often was the only female in the department. After teaching she continued with tutoring and now teaches math at Osher Lifelong Learning Institute in Lewes. And Patty had a second profession. She was an NFL cheerleader for the New England Patriots!
In addition to teaching at Osher, Patty volunteers as Mother Goose for the Read Aloud Delaware Program in Sussex County. As a member of the Rehoboth Beach Writers Guild, she leads an Art Free-Write Class and enjoys creative writing.
The note accompanying her Celebrate Excellent Care gift expressed her extreme gratitude for her care and education while staying in Room 405 of the Step Down Unit. She names Nurse Kay and Nurse Assistants Beth and Margaret. “You were not only good at your nursing duties, but treated me with dignity and respect, like a real person, not just like another sick patient.”
As a creative writer, Patty wrote the following poem before being discharged, expressing her thanks with humor and poignant facts:
BANISHMENT TO BEEBE
Kelly, Kay, Karen and Corali
4 Step Down nurses taking care of me
Take socks off, put socks on
Walking with me to the john
Pills – so many at different times. How do they keep them straight?
The computer helps, and the pharmacy, too, only occasionally getting them late.
Beth, Margaret, Jessica
Shawna, Ben and Erika
More nurses with whom I’m crossing paths
Helping me up and facilitating baths.
They never forget those purple gloves
Or the ECOLAB foam as white as doves.
They change the white board every day
So the new nurse crew is on display.
When I think that I can go to sleep
Vitals, vitals, they have to keep.
Sometimes they listen to my lungs, so deep breaths I must make
Meals get served so regularly, 4:30 dinners are hard to take.
PT people make me walk wearing a safety belt of blue
OT people make me talk to see if my head is screwed on, too.
A shout out to dear Emily, the New England Patriot’s fan
Keep up the good work cheering for Tom Brady, he’s the man.
And all the other helper folks: transporters, volunteers, house keepers
They all make staying here not so bad, answering my bells and beepers.
The food ladies also contribute much
The doctor’s visit, placing orders and such.
Looking into all the rooms
Sometimes removing the gloom and doom.
Everybody here is doing their best
To get us patients ready for our tests.
The Beebe Babes don’t get enough
Of thank you language in the rough.
So this poem is for you, I think you are all so great
The ED and the 4th floor, in my opinion are top rate!
So thank you, thank you, for all you’ve done
I appreciate your efforts to make my stay fun.
Love, Patty Perreault Bennett
July 15, 2018
As a community-based, not-for-profit healthcare system, Beebe Healthcare depends on the generous support of individuals, corporations, businesses, and private foundations. All gifts to Beebe Healthcare, large or small, are tax-deductible and are channeled through Beebe Medical Foundation. Please consider making a gift today and sharing your story with our community. To make your proud personal donation or to learn more about Celebrate Excellent Care, go online to www.beebemedicalfoundation.org or contact the Beebe Medical Foundation at (302) 644-2900 or write to [email protected].
Photo caption: Kerri Wiggins, Beth Andrews, Patty Bennett and Kay Hickman