YOU ARE NALONE
YOU ARE NOT ALONE
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The Voices for Quality Care 2022 newsletter is available now. Click here to read it. NEWSLETTER 2022PDFFINAL
(From the Maryland Health Department COVID-19 web page: CHARLOTTE HALL VETERAN’S HOME, Charlotte Hall, Maryland: As of June, 17, 2020: 286 infected, 54 deaths.)
Voices for Quality care is proud to present
Observations of the major and continuing impact of the COVID-19 infections at the Charlotte Hall Veteran’s Home in Charlotte Hall, Maryland by Sargent Bill Meck, an Army veteran who lives in that facility.
It has been my honor to live with my fellow veterans here at Charlotte Hall Veteran’s Home. We have vets here from WWII, Korea, Vietnam, Desert Storm and others. We’re a mix of every race, background, religion, officers, and enlisted. We get along peacefully 99% of the time. Oh, we have our disagreements, but in the end we never forget we are brothers and that bond is strong. We’ve had guys who flew bombers in WWII, guys that were POWs in WWII, women who were nurses or pilots, ordnance disposal guys, guys with Bronze Stars, guys with Silver Stars, tunnel rats from ‘nam, guys from all 5 branches of service and their spouses. To a man, these guys are humble and not prone to brag. The only way you’d know the skinny, quiet guy that walks with a limp crawled thru booby-trapped Viet Cong tunnels is to read his bio on our Wall of Fame. The guy in the wheelchair, Bronze Star with V for Valor, but he never brings it up. If you call him hero, he would probably tell you, “No, I was just doing my job”.
Some of these guys have seen and done things that would have most folks in a rubber for the rest of their lives. Some of them dread sleep because the dreams come, far too real and vivid. Every one of us turned our rights and lives over to Uncle Sam. We stood in harm’s way so others could be free and to defend the rights and freedoms we enjoy. We all made sacrifices in our own way…some left limbs in foreign lands, some were all shot to hell, some of us watched our brothers die horrible deaths, and some of us, our bodies came home but not our minds. Some were lucky enough to serve during a peaceful period, but you always knew the call could come…the politicians are never shy about plowing into things. They point, we go…we swore an oath to uphold and defend the Constitution. Most of the vets I know say that oath never expired. Many of our elected officials who swore a similar oath, but to them, that oath was merely words. They gladly ignore it in pursuit of money and power.
Now along comes COVID-19 to our home. Our governor decides to strip us of our Constitutional rights, then his Secretary of Health strips our resident’s rights. On top of all of this, we are allowed no visits from friends or family, no activities, no time outdoors, and we eat in our rooms. I decided to stay in my room to minimize my contact to just staff here and ended up positive anyway. The procedures were either flawed or not followed. I see no value in wearing the same mask and gown room to room. My unit sits completely empty…40 out of 42 of us infected. Some of us did not make it…my heart is broken knowing some of my brothers died alone, no final goodbyes nor final salute…rest easy brothers, your watch is over, your battles are done. I pray the Lord welcomes you and you are at least in a better, peaceful place. General Patton once said “It is foolish and wrong to mourn the men who died. Rather, we should thank God that such men lived.” I find myself doing both, it is not a pleasant thing.
There will be an accounting for this, in this life or the next…these men and women deserved better than they got. Those of us who survive this, we deserve better too. The motto of those who work here is “Serving those who served”…if only all followed that or the administration got rid of those who did not, it would be a far better place. Some of the folks being lauded as heroes are far from it. They think nothing of doing one round of care in an 8 hour shift, leaving residents in wet beds, soiled briefs, etc all night…some hero. Oh, they get reported by resident and staff alike and what happens? Not a damn thing. More heroes too afraid or unwilling to confront a slack employee. Some nurses try to correct staff and get zero backup from their superiors, others toss their subordinates under the bus in a heartbeat to cover their butts because said nurse never documents or acts on things the aide reports. Are there some heroes working here? Absolutely, there are some in every area that pull their own weight and more. They are compassionate, caring and kind…I praise them and tell them they do well. I let the higher ups know these people do well too. The residents know which staff are good and which are not, for all the good that does. It is the same thru all of healthcare from what I’ve seen in my 37 years of experience with both hospitals and nursing homes. My first spinal cord doctor at the VA hospital told me “If you do not insist on good care, you will not receive it.” Boy, was she ever right…
If I come across as angry, I am. It’s high time the people making the regulations that cover these places did something that benefits the residents rather than the long-term care corporations and their lobbyists. The staffing laws in Maryland are a joke. Nursing hours per day per resident leaves most places able to run bare minimum staff. I routinely see 3 aides for 42 residents on day shift, 2 for 42 on other shifts. Simple math tells you time per resident is short. A better model would be a maximum number of residents per aide. It would lead to better care, better staff morale, and less mistakes due to not rushing through each resident.
I’ll add, the state of Maryland failed its most vulnerable residents. We need to be better prepared for things like COVID-19. Keeping a stock of proper PPE at hand would give facilities a head start to ride out initial shortages or backorders of PPE. The introduction of COVID-19 patients from hospitals without a proper isolation unit into a vulnerable population was disastrous also. Over 50% of the deaths from COVID-19 occurred in nursing homes. That is unacceptable in my opinion.
In closing, it would be nice if our legislators would seek our input sometimes, instead of treating us like small children incapable of intelligent thought. They will strut about like proud peacocks for a photo-op, but can’t be bothered to actually come into our homes and seek input about what we’d like to see changed. Oh, they’ll say come to Annapolis and see us, knowing few have the resources to get there…a lot of us are in wheelchairs, it’s not easy or cheap to go anywhere beyond locally. I’ll leave you with a motto from the disabled community, “Nothing about us, without us”..
Sergeant William (Bill) Meck
US Army (Retired)
SUCCESS!! Voices for Quality Care in coordination with the Massachusetts Advocates for Nursing Home Reform and the services of an excellent Excel Visual Basic programmer have completed work on the payroll-based Nursing Home staffing project . We are now able to post the spreadsheets with this information for each quarter for nursing homes in both Maryland and Washington, D.C. Thanks to all who provided funding and assistance for this project! View Spreadsheets
Voices Advocate’s Handbook Now Available
Paperback ($12.00),ebook ($4.99) This book is intended as a reference tool for people needing long- term care and their families, friends, and advocates. It contains the identifying codes (F-Tags, F-540, etc.) for the new and reorganized federal regulations, selected Maryland and Washington DC laws & regulations, common acronyms, definitions, HIPAA regulations, and federal long-term care ombudsman regulations. Proceeds help to provide funding for Voices for Quality Care.