|When the call came through, the caller said, “Please call me regarding care for my mother.” On the phone was the daughter of a 90–year–old woman. Her mother had a heart ailment, and then suffered a hip fracture. The daughter was on a mission to get her mother home.
Subsequently, I arrived at the hospital room, and before me lay an elderly, frail and frightened looking woman. She did not speak, but her eyes were deep and vulnerable. The staff nurses eyed the daughter, the patient and I as if to be saying we three represented the very definition of denial. They were cordial, but made clear their impression was that this woman was dying.
The daughter described her mother to me, as a strong woman who came to the United States from Poland in the 1940s with only the clothes on her back. She married, became a citizen and worked as an accountant. Her mother had learned English, and by the time her daughter was born in the ‘50s, never spoke her native Polish again. She was that proud to be an American.
Together, the daughter and I created a plan to take her mother home. Discharge came the following day, with her chart in place and the details completed. The first RN on the case had been on many other cases with us, and was highly thought of.
Then the magic happened. A call came from the daughter that she needed to speak to on–call staff as soon as possible. These thoughts went through my mind: was the mother not tolerating the transfer, or perhaps was the nurse not a good fit for her mother?
When the call was returned to the daughter, a wonderful moment was shared. Her mother was so happy to be home and she was actually talking! Our patient was having conversations with our RN, in Polish! She was able to express her wants, her needs, and even give direction and advice to her daughter.
At this point, oddly enough, the patient spoke and understood only Polish! The daughter rejoiced, the office staff rejoiced; surely only Devine intervention could have led our RN who spoke Polish to be the nurse serving with this patient. We all got the opportunity to feel the magic, as the RN remained the primary nurse on her case, and had the honor of being with her as she drew her last breath.
This story provided by Sarah Heffernan, R.N., Director of Nursing for Celestial Care
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