Thursday, December 17, 2015

Future of Healthcare Scenario: Falla

By Luwan Durant
HCA:507.90 Organizational Innovation, Creativity & Change Management in Healthcare
Post University

Hello, my name is Falla Roberts. Currently, I’m sitting in a hospital bed thinking about my life… I will be in the hospital for a while because I became septic from a wound infection after an appendectomy. The doctor says I will be here at least two weeks. I’m happy in a sense because, I’ll have a warm bed to sleep in, hot meals three times a day, snacks at my convenience, and I’m able to take hot showers five times a day if desire to. I’m living the life! On the other hand, I’ll turn 50 in five days. I really didn’t want to spend my 50th birthday in the hospital. So, April. 9, 2040, I’ll be celebrating my 50th birthday in the hospital. Upon admission, the staff in the emergency room had to throw away my three bags of belongs because they were infested with bugs. They called them bugs however, I called them my friends. The only friends I had these days are gone. I’m in tears just writing about them. I know they’re just bugs, however, I felt safe around them. They did not violate me, I controlled them; they did not control me. I wrote about them in my daily journals which are now gone with my belongings.

I’m happy my hospital room is equipped with a laptop, an interactive TV, and I love the little robot that comes in the room when I push the red button for help. I asked the robot for a pencil and a lot of paper so I can write down my thoughts while I’m here because I’m not a big TV person. I have not had a TV in five years, I have no clue on what I like or dislike. The robot informed me of the laptop available in the tray table. This robot is awesome! It’s so helpful. I really like that it has no ulterior motives. Hmmm, I think I like it more than the bugs.

Until my appendectomy surgery, I have not been in the hospital since I had my last child in 2015. Things have really changed in the hospital setting.  My admission nurse asked me to go to the patient portal on the laptop to answer a lot of questions in reference to my social life.  Initially after reading the first few questions, I was reluctant to answer the questions because I remembered grandma’s saying “what goes on in my house stays in my house”. After sitting in the room awhile thinking… I thought, I do not have a house so, I do not have to hide anything. I went back on the patient portal and answered all the questions. There were questions relating to housing, food, access to medication, transportation, family background, and also questions on my safety.

The safety question awakened some very bad memories. I grew up in a very strange environment. I was molested from the age of five to 13. I told my mother and my grandmother about it, they stopped me from going to the family member’s homes that molested me however, we never addressed or discussed it after that. As a teenager, I was walking down the street one day, a total stranger grabbed me, pulled me close to his car and raped me in broad day light after he finished; I walked home as if nothing happened. I never told anyone about this.

The question about a support system brought back bad memories too. I was living in an abusive marriage for 27 years. Five years ago, I said enough is enough. My kids were grown and finished college, I packed my bags while my husband was at work. I left the west coast and moved back to the east coast. Until a few years ago, I kept in touch with my children. For the past five years, I’ve lived in a mobile shelter park. The shelter park was great, I had three roommates. Two of them worked at a local Food Mart and the other roommate and I worked cleaning mobile homes at the shelter park. After my appendectomy surgery, I made a mistake and fell asleep with my door unlocked, I woke up to one of my roommate’s boyfriend sitting on the foot of my bed. My roommate was in her room sleeping at the time, I told him I would scream if he touched me. He left my room and I did too that night. I’ve been living under a bridge for the past five weeks prior to being admitted to the hospital for this really bad infection.

Wow, I’m glad the patient portal asked those questions. It really felt good to open up and write about the past versus writing about the bugs. While I was writing, a face popped up on the screen with an icon that says “Click to start a live conversation”. I clicked the icon, a brief summary of the person I was going to talked to came up. To my dismay, this woman’s life story was similar to mine. The woman’s name is Sandra, I signed all the consents for Sandra to read my information. Within minutes, Sandra and I were chatting as if we knew each other our whole lives. Sandra signed up to work for this company called “Adopt a Friend”, a non-profit organization that uses the information in the patient portal to match them to a person with a similar story. This company is similar to, the owner says, the concept generated from her experience on in her biography.

Sandra holds a degree in social work, a field she went in after dealing with her own social issues to be able to help someone else. We talked for about an hour and a half. Sandra promised she would send me information to read to keep me occupied during my hospital stay. On the patient portal, there is an instant message link, I can instant message her at any time and she or one of her colleagues will get back to me immediately if it’s emergent or within 24 hours for non-emergent issues.

Sandra sent me the following email the next day:
Hello Falla,  
There are 46 million Americans who live in poverty and are measurably less healthy and have far worse health outcomes than the rest of the population. You are one of the 46 million and I was once one of the 46 million only three years ago. Like you, I was linked up with “Adopt a Friend” during a hospital visit. My friend’s name is Theresa. Theresa helped me to get off the streets, back in school and working. I’m hoping I can do the same for you. I do not know if you know but there is a shelter called the “The Safe Place” for abused women. I will send you the link so you can take a virtual look at the shelter and the programs the shelter has to offer. Theresa referred me to “The Safe Place,” as well. I lived there for about 18 months before getting my own place. You have three kids but I have five. The counseling I received in “The Safe Place” played an instrumental part in rebuilding my relationship with my family. I know this sounds like a lot. However, I want you to know if it can happen for me, it can happen for you. I and my colleagues at “Adopt a Friend” will be with you every step of the way. 
Your new friend,
This letter from Sandra had me in tears. The little robot, my nurse and my tech came in my room to see what was wrong with me. A few days ago, they came in my room because they heard me crying about missing my bugs. So, the nurse began to apologize for the staff in the ER throwing away my belongings. I stopped her immediately and told her, “No need to apologize, I’m happy they threw away my belongings.” The nurse, the tech, and the robot seemed puzzled. The robot’s eyes lit up with yellow question marks. I explained my experience with Sandra. I also explained how having access to the laptop and the patient portal changed my thoughts on life and has given me hope for a brighter future. I hate that Sandra had the same experience that I had, but it’s good to know I’m not alone and there is hope. The nurse and the tech joined me in shedding tears, and the robot’s eyes lit up with red hearts.  Upon leaving the room, the nurse told me there was a discrepancy with my name. I apologized and told her Falla was an alias I made up, meaning “failure” in Spanish. My real name is Michelle.

Oh my, this was all a dream…. I wish it were real. I have the tendency to let my imagination get the best of me when I’m writing. It looks like I’ll be back on the streets when I’m out of here.

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