Positive Perspective Educating the Uneducated: Trials, and Triumphs of a Blind Patient

Patty L. Fletcher

And Her, Super Seeing Eye Dog, King Campbell Lee

A.K.A

Bubba

May 2017

Hi, Readers, One, and All!

Campbell and I are very happy to see, that you’ve stopped by again, here at campbellsworld. I have to say, we’ve certainly got a tale for you.

Now, for those of you, who might just now be coming onto the scene, Campbell and I have had quite the adventure this merry month of, May. First of all, I was admitted to Holston Valley for a UTI gone wild, on May 3RD, and then on, May 8TH was transferred to Asbury Place Kingsport, for some much-needed recovery time, and of course, as is always, my sweet Bubba has been right by my side.

To catch up to where we are now, please see  https://campbellsworld.wordpress.com/05-09-2017-positive-perspective-on-the-other-side-of-the-help-desk-yet-again-making-myself-whole///

https://campbellsworld.wordpress.com/05-14-2017-educating-the-uneducated//

as well as  https://campbellsworld.wordpress.com/05-24-2017-positive-perspective-educating-the-uneducated-continuing/

Once you’ve read that, you’ll understand, why this post is so very important.

Campbell, and I have been through many trials during our 6 years together, but let me just say, the past month, has for certain been, both the most challenging, and rewarding, of anything we’ve encountered thus far.

I’d like to walk you back a bit, and fill in the blanks. Although I’ve referenced some URLS to previous posts above, and most certainly recommend you read them, there are a few unknown variables, that I feel should be told, so you get a complete picture. This is, in my opinion, one of the most important posts, I may have ever written, and it is my desire to raise as much awareness to what I believe is one of the most unknown problems disAbled persons, face each year.

While I can only speak for my own experience as a blind person, who, suffers from, other disAbilities as well, as I’ve been posting about all we’ve done, I’m learning from others, that I am most certainly not, alone, with these sorts of issues. And so, I ask you, please read, and where ever possible share. I also ask, that if you have had, or know of someone who has had, similar experience, please speak out! Let us know! We want to hear from you. And now… Our Tale…

We started out on May 3RD, with what I thought would be nothing more than a routine stop at my doctor’s office to get confirmation on what I believed to be a UTI, so I could pick up a prescription for some antibiotics, and then be on our way, to the rest of the day’s errands. It being the 3RD of the month, I had plenty to do.

That, however was not to be. I ended up being told that I needed to be admitted to the hospital, and once that journey began, it was an adventure to be sure.

Upon learning that I needed to go to hospital, and knowing I had no other way to get there, I made arrangements with my local, Kingsport Area Transit System, to, first go home, and then be picked up there, and transported as needed to the Admissions department of Holston Valley Welmont Health Center.

Once I arrived there, I was escorted by a friendly, and very helpful security guard, to the Admissions department, where she turned me over to, 2 very wonderful staff, who, assisted me beautifully with being admitted, and transferred into the care of, the Observation Unit.

I was feeling, very ill, nervous, and quite alone, and their caring manner, helped to ease me into what would be, both, a trying, and triumphant, stay.

Once Campbell and I were all settled in, the parade of nurses, doctors, and lab techs began, and our first few hours were spent, with Campbell lying quietly on a blanket by my bed, watching carefully all the goings on, and me answering tons of questions, and being poked, prodded, and examined, in every way imaginable.

Like I say, I was quite ill. My body, which was already weakened due to previous illness, and injury during the recent long, winter months, was, filled with infection, my blood pressure was seriously out of control, and my kidneys had stopped allowing my bladder to void itself of urine.

Soon, a confirmed diagnosis of a Renal/UTI was given, and treatment began.

During our 5-day-stay, we encountered, wonderfully helpful staff, who were absolutely the most caring, and willing to help, of any hospital staff, I’ve ever encountered, but as is most times the case, they were, very uneducated as to how to best interact with a blind patient.

So, having nothing better to do, I reached out, and made an attempt at doing a bit of educating. I took it upon myself to write to the Comments and Concerns department, and to my wonderful surprise, I was greeted, with a welcoming reply. The following, is the email I sent, as well as the reply from the hospital’s CEO. Yes, you read correctly, I said, CEO. This was a delightfully wondrous shock. Normally, when one send such a letter, one receives the standard digital response of…

“Thank you for your feedback. Please note, we cannot possibly reply to every letter, but we will take your comments under advisement.” This time, that was not at all, the case.

Below, is the letter I wrote, to what I hoped would be the powers that are, and the reply I received, that, would lead to a most wonderful opportunity for all concerned.

This letter, and its reply, appears here, just as written.

Hi, my name is Patty, and I’m currently a patient on your observation unit, C 100 room 16. I’m a totally blind 49-year-old woman, with a Seeing Eye dog. I’m receiving diligent care, and I am very pleased, as a whole, with all that has been done for me.

The staff has been, and continues to work hard, to provide most wonderful care to not only me, but my guide as well.

I do not like to leave him with others, as it is very important to maintain the bond at all times, and should I need to walk anywhere, or leave in a hurry, having Campbell, (That’s his name) makes it much easier on not just me, but the staff who are assisting as well.

Anyhow, here are my concerns…

It appears to me that by enlarge the medical profession is the least educated when it comes to assisting not just blind persons, but all disabled persons. Since I can only speak for my own experience, I’m going to speak just as a blind person, and give my observations. Please remember that these are not criticisms, just things I’ve noted while dealing with not just hospital staff, but the medical profession population as a whole…

  1. Medical professionals such as, doctors, nurses, and techs, do not seem to know the proper way to walk sighted guide. It is quite rare to meet anyone within the medical field who knows how to correctly walk with a blind person. (Yes, there is a correct way)

Depending upon whether the person walks with a cane, or guide dog, there are a couple of different methods of walking sighted guide, and I’m sad to say that most, know neither.

  1. It is my observation that persons within the medical profession have no knowledge of a guide dog or, dog guide, as is the politically correct speak, other than, do not pet. That is unacceptable, and not something I intend to tolerate any longer.

I cannot count how many times over these six years I’ve spent with my guide, that I’ve had to stop and educate folks.

They are unaware of a guide dog’s true function, they do not know the correct ways in which to interact with dog and handler, and it is obvious to me that they’ve had no training what so ever. That alone is sad, considering the oldest, and largest guide dog school in the world began in the great city of Nashville Tennessee, and, here we are in… Tennessee!

Why are these things annoying? and What do I think should be done?

These things are annoying because…

When a person comes to the doctor, dentist, or hospital, they’re nine out of ten times stressed, dealing with some sort of issue that has them feeling badly, and the last thing they need to do is to have to stop, and educate those who are there to “Help them”

What do I think should be done?

I think…

During a medical professional’s education, they need to have included in their studies…

*Experience wearing a blindfold.

*Walking with a blind White Cane user.

* Walking with a blind Guide Dog handler.

*Working with a blind patient in a hospital, and doctor’s office setting.

*Playing the part of a blind patient in a hospital and doctor’s office setting.

All in all, this has thus far, been a good visit, but if I did not need to spend half my time dealing with educating persons who should already be educated, it would make it much easier for me to focus on getting well.

While I’m at it I’d like to address a couple other issues…

  1. Things such as call buttons, TV remotes, and bed controls, should absolutely one-hundred percent without doubt be marked in Braille, and raised print.
  2. Hospital menus should be provided in accessible formats such as
  3. A) Large Print
  4. B) Braille

Or,

  1. C) audio.

I would like to offer my services to Welmont as a blind individual, to help assist your staff in learning proper techniques in the things I’ve spoken of above.

I’d like to respectfully request you contact me at your absolute earliest convenience to discuss these matters, so that I do not need to repeat this message to a higher level, because you can rest assured, I will contact higher levels if I do not receive prompt satisfaction to this request.

Thanks very much for your fantastic care, and blessed be.

Patty L. Fletcher

Author, Nonprofit, and Small Business Consultant.

Before I continue with the reply that was sent to me, I’d like to say, that when I sent a copy of this letter to some of my blind friends, their comments back to me covered a wide range of opinions. I got everything from, “ExcelLEnt job! Rock On!” to, “Your comments seemed preachy” Well, whatever the opinion, someone approved of, and appreciated them, and below, the reply, speaks for itself.

Reply

Ms. Fletcher,

Thank you for the email and for bringing these issues to our attention. I completely agree with you. We can do better with our care and treatment of blind and disabled patients. We discussed this issue in our Safety Huddle yesterday morning (we have two house-wide safety huddles each week with all leaders present). Of course, no one mentioned your name. I have asked our Chief Nursing Officer (Lisa Smithgall) to: (1) assess our current policies and procedures, (2) identify gaps, (3) revise and update those policies and procedures as needed, and (4) implement a training program for all employees.  We are also reviewing hardware and printed materials as you suggested.

We have a Patient Family Advisory Council at HVMC. One of our board members, Mr. Eric Kistner, chairs this council. Janessa Sokol is the administrative support for the council. I have cc’d them on this email. Would you be willing to attend an upcoming PFAC meeting and present your recommendations?

Again, thank you for bringing this to my attention. I greatly appreciate the spirit in which you raised these issues.

Tim Attebery, President & CEO

Holston Valley Medical Center

 Office: (423) 224-5002

Fax: (423) 224-5037

__

As you can imagine, I was quite taken-a-back at that response. I simply never in a billion years, believed, the CEO of that establishment would read my concerns, let alone get back to me himself. Had that been the end of it, other than my joyful reply of “Yes, I’ll be happy to attend your meeting, as soon as I’m well enough to do so.” I’d have been elated, but that, friends and neighbors, was not the end of it.

On Saturday of that first weekend of our journey, Mr. Tim Attebery, President & CEO came to my room, and the 2 of us, along with Campbell, had a lovely visit. He did, and does, indeed wish for me to work with their staff, to assist them in improving their already most excellent care.

Again, had that been as far as this whole situation went, I’d have been shooting the moon! AWE! That, however was not, the end. In fact, honestly it was only the very tip of what has been the experience of a life time.

As I wrote above, after our 5-day-stay, in hospital, we were transferred by ambulance to Asbury Place Kingsport. That experience was wonderful, and is written of, in the May 5TH post referenced above.

 

Once we’d arrived and begun to settle into Asbury Place Kingsport, see  http://asburyplace.org//  Once again, we began to run into challenge after challenge, due to, lack of knowledge as to proper interaction with a blind individual. I have to say, the fault does not, lie with the care giver. It is my opinion the first lack is, in the educating of the medical professional. I have learned by talking to various medical staff, that the amount of education on this subject during the schooling process is, minimal to none, and is in most cases, other than a brief over-view, an ‘Elective Class’ and that, in my opinion, must change.

The stresses that I have faced since being in this facility, and going through the recovery process were at times interfering to my treatment, and had it not been for the wonderful willingness to learn, the best ways in which to work with Campbell and me, I do not believe I’d have been nearly as successful.

While I’ve not been given quite the same response by the powers that are, here in this facility, as in the hospital, the staff here at Asbury Place has been…

*Quick to act

*Loving

*Caring, and

*Kind.

They have shown a great willingness and ability to step in and make right any issue I’ve had, have been tolerant of my, lack of tolerance during some of my most severe time of illness, and have never done anything but show my Seeing Eye Dog, and me the utmost, love, understanding, and fabulous care.

Now, here I am just 4-days-away from discharge, and both my dog, and myself are quite literally in better shape than we were before I fell ill.

During the winter of illnesses, and injury, I faced, Campbell was himself sick with a UTI, and while I have found that just a bit strange, I have to say, the Skilled Care, and Rehabilitation we’ve received has been tailored for, and assisted, both of us.

I found that the Physical Therapy staff recognized the fact that Campbell is an extension of me, and there-for needed to be included in my therapy, and the result has been fantastic.

We have had some of the most fascinating adventures, and not only have we taught others a whole lot about blind persons, and their guides, we have indeed learned much ourselves.

Many kind things have been done for us during this stay. The staff has many times taken up the slack for me, with their assistance with Campbell. Just as with the staff at Holston Valley Hospital, when I was unable, they walked him for me, making sure as much as was possible to keep his routine.

When they were unsure of how to interact with us, although there was some confusion at first, once I was able to get across to everyone concerned what needed to be done, they were more than happy to learn how, and follow-through.

As Campbell and I ended yet another, trying, and triumphant week here, the Physical Therapy staff, gave us a most amazing surprise. At the end of the day, Campbell and I, went with our Physical Therapist to do our afternoon therapy routine, of walking, and working out, and after we’d walked outside, with me working Campbell through various settings, we made our way into the therapy room so I could do strength training.

Once there, we received a magnificent surprise.

My therapist asked me if Campbell were allowed to play with a tennis ball. I told her, that as long as he was supervised, I had no problem with it, but that I’d never leave him alone with one, because they can, if chewed apart, become quite dangerous. Then I asked why she wanted to know. She then, surprised me by suggesting, that Campbell might be in need of some serious Doggy Therapy of his own, and so while I did my work-out routine, the staff closed off the room, and I turned Campbell loose.

PHOTO ONE – PATTY STROKING CAMPBELL ON HIS BED

PHOTO TWO – PATTY AND CAMPBELL OUT IN THE GARDEN

PHOTO THREE – A TIRED CAMPBELL WITH HIS TENNIS BALL 

Link for Video

Doggy Therapy

He ran, and played, and had the most fun, he’s had in quite some time.

If you look at the pictures and video provided here, you will see, that the gift given to my dog, was a most beautiful, and much-needed thing. I simply don’t have words to express how grateful I was for this loving gesture.

Campbell and I will be discharged mid-week, and while I’m a bit apprehensive of this, I know, that thanks to the diligent care we’ve received here, as well, as the out-patient care we will receive upon returning home, we are most assuredly going to succeed, and as I’ve previously stated, are leaving better than we were before our illnesses.

I will leave you to watch Campbell have his fun, while blowing off some pent-up energy. I also want to let you know, that the Physical Therapy Director has, when asked, agreed to, before we leave, video one of our Therapy sessions, so, stay tuned for that episode.

Campbell and I hope you’ve enjoyed our tale, and we want to remind you to please? Let us know of any experiences you may have had when dealing with a health issue, and how you handled it.

Until next time, this is Patty, who is ever grateful, and her beautiful Bubba saying…

Be Well, May Harmony Find You, and Blessid Be.

 

Legal Notes THE SEEING EYE® and SEEING EYE® are registered trademarks of The

Seeing Eye, Inc.See: www.SeeingEye.org

 

 

 

 

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One Response to Positive Perspective Educating the Uneducated: Trials, and Triumphs of a Blind Patient

  1. Pingback: BRANCO’S BROARDCAST 10TH JULY | Campbells World

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