A Day at the Greene Memorial Hospital ER

As I write this I’m sitting in one of the examination rooms at Greene Memorial Hospital in Xenia, Ohio . A couple of hours ago, I got a call from my parents’ house. It was my cousin. She said, “We need to take your mom to the hospital, she seems worse than yesterday and now she’s not wanting to wake up.” Not the words you want to hear on a Monday morning or any other for that matter.

Those who follow my column regularly may recall that my mother, Lois, is a full-time, homecare Alzheimer’s patient. Over the last couple of days we’d been concerned that Mom was growing ill from some kind of infection, the symptoms of which were taking their time in presentation.

My mother is in surprisingly good health considering the deteriorative nature of her illness. There are occasions, however, when she succumbs to infection and treatment is required early to keep it from becoming life-threatening.

Today she had become dangerously unresponsive, lethargic and jaundiced. So after a quick call to 9-1-1, the New Jasper Township Fire Department arrived and whisked her off to the ER.

Now here we sit – me, my cousin and Mom. Well, actually, Mom is lying down; something of a feat in itself when I tell you that on this day the Greene Memorial ER is quite nearly standing room only.

The ambulance arrived at the hospital just before 1 p.m. and I had made it here just a few minutes ahead of them. Once inside, Mom was settled in an exam room and made comfortable. Her nurse, who introduced herself as Barb, was in and out regularly, performing various tasks and repeatedly apologizing for our wait.

It was a couple of hours before the doctor finally came in to do an exam, but there was no need to apologize. It seemed to me that they were doing their best and, though my mother’s condition was serious, it was not immediately life-threatening. I would like to think that the staff was first seeing to those more seriously ill and they would do the same for her were it required.

There are probably a lot of upset people today, annoyed by the wait or angry about having to be posted in the hallway until a suitable exam room came open. After all, everyone has a horror story about an ER visit, and it rarely acknowledges the quality of the care they received.

Asked about their individual visits to the same hospital, ten people would probably report ten different experiences. If you asked my opinion, I’d say the Greene Memorial ER staff is one of the best around.

I say that because, in cases like my mother, they seem to have the good sense to listen to those family members who are taking care of the patient. Sadly, over the last couple of years, Mom has lost many cognitive abilities, most notably verbal communication, so she can’t simply tell us when something hurts.

We have had to learn to read her facial expressions, vital signs and other characteristics to know how to best care for her. It’s a language that we have to translate for the doctors so they can get a complete picture of what’s happening with her.

Almost five hours have passed now. The tests have finally been evaluated and the doctor comes in to deliver his diagnosis. Treatment is started immediately and, luckily, we learn Mom will be discharged shortly. Hospice nurses will check on her at home and we’ll continue her medications as prescribed.

What a day – one of many I have spent this way over the last year and a half. But thanks to the thoughtful care given by the staff of Greene Memorial Hospital ‘s Emergency Services, these kinds of days are easier on my mother and those of us who care for her.

I do a lot of work in the Beavercreek area so I’ve been watching the progress of construction on the new hospital near The Mall at Fairfield Commons. It’s impressive on the outside, to say the least. But, I hope, on the inside, all of its new grandeur doesn’t cost us the personality of this hospital. It’s too high a price to pay for progress.

Gery L. Deer is a freelance columnist and business writer based in Jamestown . More at www.gerydeer.com.