School Is Not Much Of An Improvement Over Hospital

, , , | Healthy | February 1, 2019

(I’m a nurse in a smallish community hospital. A number of our patients are awaiting placement in long-term care and aren’t acutely ill. However, because they’re living in a germy hospital, they’re inclined to pick up bugs, and older folks with cognitive decline can get intensely confused with any sort of infection. One morning, one of our longtime patients, an older, bedridden lady, starts telling us all that she’s on a couch in a schoolhouse in a completely different small town and she needs to get back to the hospital. She laughs at us when we try to explain that she’s already in the hospital, and has a shouting match with her husband when he comes in and tries, as well. Later in the day, I’m doing some charting at the nursing station and answer a phone call:)

Me: “[Floor], [My Name] speaking.”

Patient: “Oh, hi. I’m just calling to let you know that I’m not there today; I’m at the school in [Town].”

Me: “[Patient], you are here today. I saw you this morning. I helped with your bath.”

Patient: “No, I’m not. I’m in [town], but I thought I should call in case [Husband] is looking for me.”

Me: “[Patient], your husband was in this morning. To the hospital. Where you are. In room [number]. Look. I’ll walk down the hall to your room.”

Patient: *laughs* “Okay, you do that; I won’t be there, though.”

(I walk down the hall, while talking to the patient on the cordless extension, and into her room. She sees me and continues talking over the phone to me.)

Patient: “Oh, a girl’s here now!”

Me: *hangs up* “[Patient], that’s me; you were just talking to me.”

Patient: *keeps talking into the phone* “See, I’m in [Town] and I need to get back to the hospital!”

(I gave up; she would not be reoriented. Later, I answered a call from our switchboard, who patched through 911. The patient had called them to ask to be returned to the hospital. I had to go back to her room to talk to the 911 dispatch on her phone and cancel the request. Then I disconnected her phone. This patient is recovered and quite lucid once more.)

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