A Creston woman in her early 80s who fell and had her hip replaced is using her story to highlight gaps in the health care system, after she waited nearly two weeks to receive assistance from a home care nurse to help her navigate the injury.
The woman – who has requested anonymity – was walking her dog at around 7 a.m. on the morning of July 27 near her home on the hill of 10th Avenue North.
“I tripped over my dog basically and fell onto the road. I couldn’t move my leg. Four cars passed me – two cars going up the hill and two going down – without even slowing down,” she said.
She managed to get herself off the road and onto the sidewalk before calling out to a man who was out for a morning stroll. She said she was lying on the ground unassisted for 20 minutes.
“I was right there on the road … I think people need to be a little more conscious of what they’re doing. Nobody even stopped to ask if I needed help.”
An ambulance arrived shortly afterwards, after the woman had told the man to go wake up her sleeping husband.
Her doctor was waiting for her at the hospital, who arranged for x-rays and scheduled an operation at Cranbrook’s East Kootenay Regional Hospital.
“I went straight to the operating room and they replaced the ball and socket … it was all done by 6 p.m. that same day.”
She came back to Creston on July 29 and was sent home the next day with a walker, a cane and a chair for the bath.
“I’m thankful to both hospital staff. They were both wonderful. The ambulance was wonderful. The people were wonderful.”
It was her experience after leaving the hospital that she said wasn’t so pleasant.
Interior Health said in an email to the Advance that once a patient is referred for home or community support services, they “make every effort to respond within 48 hours.”
“It took them 13 days to finally send somebody to tell me how to get in and out of the bathtub safely. It was ridiculous timing,” she said.
She added that when she was sent home from the hospital, the onus was on her husband to care for her for the time being.
“His hands aren’t strong. His back isn’t wonderful. It’s not fair to ask a man of his age to look after a lady my age,” she said. “I’d rather have knowledge myself of how to handle myself in the bathtub.”
A homecare assessment was done on Aug. 9 to examine the new bathtub chair, and to identify any potential hazards in the house.
However, an occupational therapist who visited the home on Aug. 12 told the woman she didn’t need the chair.
“She said I was strong enough to stand and that I don’t need a chair that could be a cumbersome thing,” said the woman. “The chair went back, and I stand to have a shower and feel very comfortable because I have a bar to hold onto.”
A homecare nurse came by later that afternoon and assisted the woman with her first shower in almost two weeks.
She praised the service she received from both the occupational therapist and the homecare nurse, calling them “empowering.”
A home care nurse is now in place to visit the woman every Wednesday, but her husband said that he’d like to see the provincial government allocate more funds to home care services, especially in areas with an older demographic.
“The baby boomers are all seniors. This town is a prime example,” the woman added. “Of course they’re going to need more people to do things for the seniors, particularly when they have a problem. … They are trying, but these long gaps between the hospital and the first care to organize you at home is what’s missing.”
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