Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Excellence in Patient Care


Today I truly witnessed excellence in patient care. I know there is no way my words can truly describe what I saw today. I was struck by the depth of the patient's physical suffering  and the loving care the community care workers provided while working in a very compromised environment. Everything I am going to attempt to describe to you occurred in extreme heat (it's summer here), in extremely close quarters (we were in a very small shack), with the door closed-no ventilation.

 I had the distinct privilege of observing Maria and two of the amazing community care workers provide the most dignified and gentle care to a patient. This gentleman was 37 years old, paraplegic with AIDS and other ailments. These three staff visit him daily to provide wound care and daily dressing changes to the largest decubitus I've ever truly seen. This giant skin ulcer covered this gentleman's entire buttock region and then some. There were areas you could see muscle. Truly it was enormous. He also had other ulcers on the sides of both knees, calves, and the bottom of both heels.  Sorry to be so graphic but I think it's important you understand the nature of this man's suffering.

In extreme heat, with little space to move, these three remarkable caregivers moved around each other and gave their patient a bed bath, massaged his limbs, carefully removed yesterday's dressings, and then cleaned his wounds with saline solution they made themselves (they boiled water and added salt). They sprinkled vinegar to mask the smell and keep away the maggots he had in the wound previously. They then carefully placed powdered flagel on the skin ulcers.  After this, they placed gauze on the wounds, taped them to his skin, then placed larger gauze over that and then finally a diaper.  It was like watching poetry in motion or a carefully choreographed dance. This gentleman never flinched or cried out in pain. Finally they dressed him and placed him a wheelchair so he could sit outside.

All the while the community care workers were perspiring profusely. Eventually I took a beautiful scarf given to me by a good friend here that was tied on my purse and began wiping their faces. They were grateful for that small gesture.  I told them to keep the scarf and use it for the remainder of the day.  It was the least I could do.  The community care workers told me they were grateful someone was there to see them work and understand what they did. I don't think I've ever been so humbled.

Suncoast Hospice has remarkable staff also. Our staff provides excellent care in trying circumstances. I do not mean to imply otherwise.  I'm not sure that you can truly understand the depth of the need here until you see what I saw today, what I've witnessed my four trips here and what all our other staff who have visited our sister hospice have witnessed. 

The dollars we raise help Hospice Wits in innumerable ways. The supplies you donate are a gift they treasure. Everyone is grateful for our support. They are so proud to be our 'twin'.  I am proud to see them wearing our red Suncoast Hospice buttons.

Tomorrow we finish our support activities with the Soweto staff. We'll conduct a de-briefing meeting with the leadership team and have a final tea. We'll then leave for the airport and begin our long trip back home.

We look forward to sharing more of our stories and pictures with you. Consider inviting us to a teamwork department support.  Thank you for your support and encouragement. We have read all your comments. Knowing you're reading our blog has helped to keep us going.

With heartfelt thanks,
Stacy

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