One of the most important people in my life has always been my grandmother. Overall, I think I’ve spent more time with her than any other relative (besides my parents and sister, of course). I’m sorry to write that she isn’t doing very well these days, Not only did she lose my pap last November to cancer (4 days before his 75th birthday), been through at least one knee replacement that I can recall, as well as quintuple heart bypass surgery, she’s now dealing with ovarian cancer. Lots to go through for an ol’ gal, but she’s pulled through it all, albeit with a lot of moaning and groaning. Saying she’s a little fussy would admittedly be an understatement.
Without getting into all of gram’s private health issues, just know that she was admitted to Kane Regional Center in Scott Township, Pennsylvania for “rehab”. She hasn’t been doing much walking at all, and is very weak (no surprise considering her age and the circumstances) so the plan is for her to get some physical therapy at Kane in order to either go back home (God forbid that ever happens) or go back to St. Clair Hospital for more doctor back-and-forth and scheduling of tests and possible surgery. This process has been dragging on for a few weeks now, and is moving along WAY slower than it needs to. The nurses and doctors alike need to get their act together and figure out what to do because let’s face it, someone’s life is at stake here, and that life is the life of my beloved grandmother.
I can remember 2 or 3 years ago when my grandmother was at the same Kane for another health issue. She’s had quite a few, so I can’t remember exactly which one it was. As soon as I walked into the place, I knew she picked a real loser of a place. Or maybe she didn’t pick it. It was probably ordered that she went there by some guy or gal in a suit who only knew my gram’s name and bank account and really nothing else about her or her situation. Anyway, I quickly realized Kane was one of the most, if not the most, dingy, bland, out-dated, bare bones “nursing home” I had ever been in. My gram had both a different aide and different nurse every night she was there, and she was there for about a week. You’d think they’d at least have a somewhat regular staff, but we all know how the county operates, or more correctly, doesn’t operate.
During her first stay there, one of the nurses tried to give my grandmother one of her pills during an evening med pass. Gram took one look at the pill and told the nurse, “I don’t take this.” The nurse quickly shot back in a dismissive tone, “Yes you do. It’s on your chart.” My gram stood (or rather, laid) firm in her bed, and informed the nurse, “No I don’t. I’ve never taken [whatever the name of the pill was].” I guess the nurse in question gave a quick glance to her charting and realized my gram was in fact….hold your breath…right! “Oh my gosh, you’re right,” the nurse finally admitted. “I’m sorry, I’m just in a hurry.” As I write this, I’m still not certain that the nurse did in fact apologize (remember, this was about 3 years ago) but I definitely remember the nurse using the “I’m just in a hurry” excuse as to why she was going to give my gram a medication she never took, and possibly hinder her health even further.
Kane. Great isn’t it?
The nurse’s excuse for distributing an incorrect medication to a patient (who happens to be both ill and elderly) was the worst thing she possibly could have said. A person who’s supposed to be a licensed professional happens to be an incompetent asshole who’s “in a hurry” to get her meds passed out and most likely go on a cigarette and/or cell phone break. It’s disgusting and is totally polar opposite of everything and anything a nurse should stand for and be. I only hope that one day when one of her relatives is in the same position and some reckless nurse that’s in a hurry tries to give her loved one a wrong medication. I’d like to see how she’d act. My bet is that she’d act the same way my gram did, although probably in a much more rude and rushed fashion.
I was hoping that my gram (or any other one of my relatives, for that matter) would never have to step foot in Kane ever again. But, it didn’t pan out that way. That’s why I’m writing this entry with such anger. There’s pretty much smoke coming out of my ears as I’m writing this, so just be glad you’re not here.
My gram is back in Kane, and I was back to visit her on Saturday, September 21, 2013 between 7-8pm. This was the first time I stepped into Kane since the last time my gram was there, and I wasn’t expecting anything better. It still looked like the same depressing place it was when I last saw it. As I walked into the building, I saw a security guard walking from my right, going into what I assumed was the Security Department office. Just to make getting to my gram’s room a little quicker (it was evening time and I knew she’d be pretty tired and about to go to bed), I asked the guard which way I should go to get to Room 285 (that’s her actual room number, so if you read what follows and are outraged like I am, stop by and give her a visit, because I didn’t mention this story to her).
We’ll call this guard Peece O’Shit. Peece O’Shit is a seemingly middle-aged man (watch, he’s probably 40) with a fat gut, a moustache, glasses, and a cocky attitude.
Peece O’Shit immediately seemed confused when I asked him where to go in order to get to her room. He repeated the room number I gave him to give it some time to soak through his thick skull, then gave a a few “uhhs” and “umms” until he pointed to the right, the same direction he just came from. Then, he changed his mind and pointed up the hall to the left, telling me to go down the hall and around the corner, where there would be elevators to my right and to take it up the 2nd floor (as if I didn’t know to take it to the 2nd floor, when her room number began with 2. Dumbass.)
I thanked him and went on my way, up to the 2nd floor to see my gram, who is currently in very poor health, and who’s someone that we’re not sure is going to be around much longer. That, of course, is worst case scenario, but we’re doing what any family in this situation has to do, and that’s to take things day by day, hour by hour, even minute by minute. All of a sudden, as I’m just about to turn the bend of the hall toward the elevator, I hear a man shout “Hey, excuse me!” It’s Peece O’Shit and he’s walking toward me. Mind you, I’m pretty far up the hall and it had been a good solid 10 seconds AT LEAST before he called out to me. You mean to tell me it took him that long to get the words out? Considering his stupidity and pathetic nature, most likely.
When we finally get close enough to chat, this is what follows:
- Peece O’Shit: “I can’t let you go upstairs with that shirt on.”
- Me: “Why?” (Truly not understanding why, as I didn’t think he’d want me to go upstairs naked to see my cancer-stricken gram)
- Peece O’Shit: “You know why.” (As if he’s known me for years, and knows all my thought processes and can read minds. He had a shitty grin on his face that I wanted to wipe off)
I then assumed he was talking about the back of my t-shirt. I’m a huge fan of the metal band Machine Head, and I was wearing one of their t-shirts. The front has a design of some kind on it and on the back, in all caps it reads “MACHINE FUCKING HEAD”.
- Me: “So you’re telling me I can’t go upstairs with this shirt on?”
- Peece O’Shit: “Yeah, I just can’t let you go upstairs wearing that. You know, there’s people..and..You can change and come back in..but I just can’t..” (As if I had a whole wardrobe waiting for me out in the car)
- Me: “Well this is all I have so could I just turn it inside out?”
- Peece O’Shit: “Yeah, that’s fine, I just can’t..If you want, there’s a bathroom over here…you know this is a county-”
- Me: (I finished his sentence for him) “run thing, Yeah I know, I can just change here, it’s no big deal. I’m just saying that I’m going up to see my dying grandmother who isn’t gunna be around much longer, and you’re asking me to change my shirt. Do you understand where I’m coming from?”
- Peece O’Shit: (putting his hands up in a back away kind of motion) “Hey, I’m not offended by it. It doesn’t bother me, I’m just saying there’s people around…the nurses..I mean, you can ask one of the charge nurses…I mean…Hey, I’m not trying to cause you any problems, I’m just saying, doin’ my job…”
I stare at him coldly for about 5-7 seconds. So many thoughts are running through my mind. Should I really do this? I’m not here to argue with this guy or cause a scene, I’m here to see my sick grandmother and this asshole is holding me up talking about my t-shirt as if he’s some kind of all-knowing moral authority. By the time I get upstairs after having this unnecessary conversation with this stranger who’s forcing me to take off my top, my gram could very well be dead. After those few seconds of staring, Peece O’Shit repeats himself. AGAIN.
- Peece O’Shit: “Hey, like I said, I’m not trying to cause you any problems, I’m just saying I can’t let you go up there with that on. I just can’t..” (sure you can, asshole, you just won’t because you’re the one who’s offended)
- Me: “Is there a policy on this? Like a resident visitor dress code? I work in a nursing home over 5 years and I can tell you that we have nothing like this.”
- Peece O’Shit: (clearly getting nervous and beginning to stutter) “Uh…yeah, uh, yeah..we do. It’s just there’s people around and…you know, they might…it’s just..”
- Me: (ever the “better person” as I was raised to be) “Well, you’re lucky I’m a nice guy and am cooperating because I can tell you this: if you said that to another 23-year-old, they wouldn’t be as nice. They’d probably say ‘Go fuck yourself,”
- Peece O’Shit: (chuckling with that same shitty grin still on his face) “Hey, that’s fine. If they said something like that, I’d just call the cops! That’s fine with me, I have no problem doing that.”
- Me: “I’m just saying I hope you understand where I’m coming from. That’s all I’m asking. It’s not right.”
- Peece O’Shit: “Hey, I’m just telling you, it’s…”
I can’t even remember how exactly the conversation ended because my blood felt so hot I thought it was going to melt my skin. This wasn’t even 24 hours ago. I think we just kinda started to walk away from each other, and the conversation slowly ended. I wasn’t going to waste any more time talking with this idiot when I could be upstairs spending what very well could be the final days with a woman I can’t see myself living without. I could just cry writing about it.
Going up the elevator, I made the decision not to tell my gram about what happened with Peece O’Shit. The empty look in her eyes and the absence of any kind of emotion in her actions or her voice made it clear to me that she needed me, and I needed to be there. I didn’t need to tell her about some fuck of a security guard, and she didn’t need to hear it. I decided to spend some time with her talking about family, her situation, and her dismal surroundings at Kane Regional Center.
“I shouldn’t have picked this place,” she said. “This place is terrible.”
Simple words that perfectly describe anyone on any length of stay at Kane, Scott Township.
Kane has several other locations, and I can’t speak for any of them because, quite frankly, I’ve never been to any of them. (http://www.alleghenycounty.us/kane/locations.aspx) However, I can speak for Kane, Scott Township because I have been there…several times. Each time was worst than the last. Last night was worst of all, and it had nothing to do with my gram…it had to do with someone coming to visit her! Some dude off the street who just happened to be her only grandson. I could have flown in from California, Australia, or even China, and some security guard treats me like that? It’s uncalled for and unacceptable.
I posed no threat whatsoever to public safety. I threw a shirt on at home without giving it any thought and went to visit my gram in a nursing home. I wouldn’t have dreamed anyone at that place would even look at my shirt, let alone give me shit about it. If I walked in that door naked, completely topless, or pantsless, yes, I could understand Peece O’Shit (or anyone, for that matter) having an issue. I’m just a guy quietly walking into a nursing facility to spend a half hour or so up in my gram’s room. Sure, if someone happened to be offended by my shirt, I’d apologize (even tho I have nothing to apologize for. Freedom of speech and expression is a blessing in this great country). I’d say something like “I’m sorry that offended you, but it is freedom of speech after all, you’ve never seen me in your life, and you’ll never see me again after this, so we can both go our separate ways.”
Even if someone was so offended last night that they reported me, I’d ask to see a written policy drafted BEFORE September 21, 2013 that states that resident family members and friends coming to the facility to visit are not permitted to wear any type of clothing with profanity. Not something that is BELIEVED to be profanity or BELIEVED to be offensive to others, but that is in fact plain and simple profanity. I’m not saying the word “FUCKING” is a pleasant word, but it’s a word nonetheless. We’ve all said it, we’ve all heard it, and we can’t pretend it doesn’t exist. It’s a word, for Christ’s sake. I think cancer is a little more of an important issue than some dude wearing a metal band’s t-shirt.
Tomorrow, I’ll call the Executive Director of Kane Regional Centers and talk with him about what went down.
- I felt embarrassed and intimidated by the guard (he wasn’t letting me go upstairs without taking my shirt off and changing it)
- I felt nervous and upset my entire visit with my gram due to the incident (was the guard going to come looking for me? To make sure I still had my shirt inside out?)
- I feel hesitant to ever go back to Kane Scott Township because I’m afraid this may happen again and I’ll be embarrassed and delayed even further by another staff member. (Will my gram die before I can make it up the stairs? I’m too busy trying clothes on)
- Most importantly, I felt my civil rights were violated and that I was discriminated against. Plain and simple. My freedom of speech and expression were taken away because some security guard felt it may be offensive to others WITHOUT offering to provide any kind of written bylaw that covered any kind of dress code. For staff, I totally understand a dress code. You need one. You don’t want some nurse coming in to give you meds in a bikini (well, I do, but I’m talking about if you’re some old lady that wants nothing more than to receive the proper care and treatment to get home…kinda like my gram)
Now, to be fair to Kane Regional Centers, if there is in fact a written dress code pertaining to resident visitors, by all means, show it to me. I’d love to see that. So far, I haven’t seen anything. I’ve just seen a security guard force me to change my shirt before going up to see my quite possibly dying grandmother without providing any clear evidence of any kind of policy violation. I want to see it in writing. If there is in fact no such policy/bylaw of the kind (as I suspect there isn’t) then I’ll take it further. And further wouldn’t necessarily be a good thing for Kane Regional Center, Scott Township. Or as I like to call it Kane Regional Civil Rights Violation Center.
But aside from all that noise, I got to do the one thing I went there to do in the first place: to see gram. I love you, Gram. Get well soon.