Deanna Enfinger, Director of Development at South Carolina House Calls, heard an angry woman’s voice screaming, “Out! Out! Get out of my room!” She was at the hospital to meet a 79-year-old patient to schedule her home visits with a nurse practitioner after her discharge.
As she walked down the hall, she heard in an even louder voice, “Nobody here listens to me!” Deanna could see the case manager’s expression of relief as she approached the nursing station. “That’s your new patient, Miss Emma She’s in rare form today.” Deanna reassured her, “Everything will be fine.” and headed toward Miss Emma’s room.
Standing inside the door, Deanna observed a physical therapist trying to convince Mis Emma to get out of bed. Emma, a retired nurse, was having none of it. “You leave me alone! I want to see a doctor!”
Then Miss Emma noticed Deanna by the door and asked her what she was doing there. Deanna replied, “I just came in to see your beautiful smile. “Who said I had a beautiful smile? Everyone told me you had the most beautiful smile of anyone in the hospital, and I just wanted to see it.” Miss Emma asked Deanna to stay.
For the next thirty minutes, the two sat quietly while Miss Emma explained that no one could tell her what was wrong with her that she had been asking for something to do, a puzzle, anything entertaining but they just gave her an old book which she had no interest in at all. She also explained she had saved all her life to afford her apartment in an independent community, and getting back home was meant everything to her.
The problem was the hospital needed to discharge her, but she was too weak to go home, and she would not consent to go to a rehab center. Miss Emma had had a terrible time during rehab in a skilled facility after her last hospital stay and was adamant about not going back. Deanna listened with compassion.
The smile that Deanna had pretended she had heard of finally appeared. “ Oh my Gosh, your smile…it’s so beautiful! Just like everyone said!”
Deanna told her she would return the next morning to check in on her. “Don’t commit to something you are not going to do.” Miss Emma said. “I will be here,” Deanna replied.
The next day, Miss Emma was once again battling the hospital staff when Deanna arrived. The case manager told Deanna she might want to reconsider going in. “I promised Miss. Emma, I would return. Don’t worry. She’ll be fine.” When Miss Emma saw Deanna, she immediately calmed down. Then Deanna handed her a gift-wrapped box. “What’s this?”
“It’s for you.”
“A puzzle! Why did you get me this?”
“To see your smile.”
During the visit, Deanna knew she needed to find a way to get Miss Emma into a rehab center.
Deanna told her she would plan for her to stay at a wonderful rehab center, which she knew would get her strong enough to return home soon. She promised to visit her there, and when Miss Emma got back to her independent community, she would visit with her again and arrange for a nurse practitioner from South Carolina House Calls to come to her home and good take care of her.
Miss Emma agreed to give the rehab center a try. Deanna hugged her, and Miss Emma’s smile appeared again.
If you or a loved one are discharging from a hospital, ask for South Carolina House Calls, we’ll be there for you.