The officer meets us in the garage, and fills us in. It’s my partner, the medic student I’m precepting today, and myself.
The patient inside is 96 years old and fell around noon. It’s nearly 4pm now, and the officer is concerned about not just the skin tear on the elbow after the fall, he’s concerned about the heat of the house’s interior. He’s worried the patient may have dehydration issues. He tells us that the patient’s wife is a resident of a local nursing home and he always goes to see her at 12:30pm. Every day. For the entire four years since she became a resident there. Today, 12:30 came and went and he did not appear. Staff members became concerned, and went to the house. The officer got them inside, and together the three of them discovered our patient on the floor.
We enter the garage and make our way past the large four door mid 1980s sedan parked sedately inside. Winding our way past paneled walls, we climb the three stairs from the finished garage stall to the vintage kitchen. Spotless. Everything our eyes touch, from the countertops and cabinets of the kitchen, to the antiquated appliances and on into the bedspread visible through the doorway off the kitchen – every single thing is pristine, and centered. Meticulously up kept. Winding our way past more paneling to the front living room of the shotgun home, we find our patient.
And Marcy. And Deanna.
Seated on the floor and leaning against a davenport (I am certain even in the first few moments of this call that it is not called a “couch”, not in this home) is the gentleman in question. Two ladies in scrubs are bent over him solicitously, and they stand upright as we enter. My student begins the assessment, and I listen in. The patient remembers falling, he hit his head a bit but he doesn’t take blood thinners anymore. The blood thinners were only aspirin, but he hasn’t had to take them since they kept giving him nasty nosebleeds. He just couldn’t get up without some help. So while he thought of what to do, after a couple hours, help came in the form of his wife’s caretakers, Marcy and Deanna.
Concern etched on their faces, they list his health status (very good) and clue us in to his UTI diagnosed last evening. They know him well, and the caring inherent in their body language, the tender tone of voice they use, and their careful explanations to us soften my heart enough that for a moment I’m concerned my eyes might leak a bit. Their absolute certainty that something was wrong led them to the house, and if not for them, the two grown daughters from out of town might’ve had a very different weekend at some point. The skin tear on the elbow serves as a stamp of sorts, so that his efforts across the ivory carpet are visible.
As we complete our necessary arrangements, vital signs obtained, cardiac monitor examined and cot positioned, I remove the small notebook from my right cargo pocket and click my pen open. I carefully record their names and numbers, as they worriedly ask our patient to call them before he comes home. They want to bring him home and see that he is settled properly. He answers them with dignity and affection, and as we take our leave I look back. The police officer stops with me and looks. They are down on their knees with some cleaning supplies, and they are working on removing the bloodstains from the ivory carpet.
The officer’s eyes met mine and he coughed brusquely. I nodded and murmured about my allergies acting up, too. We went down the hall of the beautiful vintage home, locking the door as we left. I made up my mind that come Tuesday, Marcy and Deanna’s supervisor is going to get a call from this medic. I have no doubt that the work ethic of these two angels in scrubs won’t be new news to the supervisor, but I have to express my admiration at just what exemplary employees these two women are.
Thank God for Marcy and Deanna, may we all be a lot more like them.