On September 13, 2008, my Uncle Bobby (Robert McClellan) passed away. He spent almost four months in the hospital, and five weeks in a nursing home. The story of why he was there is long and lengthy. The long and short of the story is that he went in for throat cancer. That operation was successful. About a week after his recovery, they found a hole in his stomach, and therefore had to disconnect his stomach, and reattach it at a later time. It was a long process and my uncle was always like the Energizer bunny. He would respond well to the medicine and bounce back. He was on the ventilator, and then he was off.
My mother and I along with my father and sister became the primary caretakers for him. Going to the hospital every day, really can take a toll on everything. We knew that we did all that we could do for Uncle Bobby and couldn’t ask for anything more. When he was alert, he knew we were there, and was always thankful for it. It was also the first time I ever received a hug from him. Every hug I did get from him during his last days were so invaluable.
When he was not sedated and alert, we became closer to him, and now that he is gone, it is just so weird. It became such a routine of going to the hospital every day.
The operation was done at Luthereran Medical Center, in Brooklyn, New York. So traveling from Staten Island to Brooklyn definitely took its toll. The tolls, parking, and gas. Somehow we managed to do it, and we did it for Uncle Bobby.
At the end, when my Uncle coded, there was a lot of things the hospital was wrong with. It was more on the end of communication, and getting the proper information. All of the sudden the social worker calls, and says that we are moving him to a nursing home in Carnarsie, Brooklyn. For us, we knew that we would not be able to go there every day, and we upset that we did not have a choice, and it was said and done.
My parents went to visit him the first time. The visit went well. The second time, my father went, that same week, and came home upset. He spent the whole day that Friday, trying to get him into a nursing home on Staten Island. He had a trake, so only certain nursing homes can accommodate it. The social worker called my father persistent, but polite in trying to get him in a nursing home on Staten Island. Silver Lake Nursing Home took him in that very night. We just had to pay the ambulance, and I was the one that went there that night. Since he was not responsive, clean, it was really upsetting, and even the ambulance drivers felt bad. They felt like they were bringing in a dead person.
The nursing home did a good job of what you call “comfort care.” He was just bathed, shaved, and new pajamas, and no more poking, or torture. We just put Bobby into the hands of God, and God took him on September 13, 2008.
After his death, we wanted to sue the hospital, and after taking to a lawyer, it was going to be too much aggravation, and there wasn’t much to go after. So we decided that we would write a letter to the hospital on Bobby’s behalf, and see if the hospital responds. My mother wrote the letter to a doctor who really had a big influence on my Uncle, and was our main contact, and the one we got information from.
About a month later, we received a call from that doctor. He apologized for not getting back to us sooner because he was away. The doctor also sent his condolences and said that he was going to forward our letter to the administration.
Some time after that we did receive a letter from the hospital, and they too sent their condolences, and said that an investigation would take place and we would hear the results of it.
It took some time, and we did not hear anything. We decided that we were going to write a second letter. The second letter, we were finally able to set a meeting with some of the hospital executives because they want to correct their mistakes, and make sure that it does not happen again.
January 6th we met with some of the Executives of Luthereran Medical Center, and they allowed my mother and I to voice our concerns. They listened, and admitted their mistakes. While they cannot bring Uncle Bobby back to life, they can take the measures to make sure that it would not happen again.
One thing they did implement is this Rapid Response Team. The day my uncle coded, my dad said he looked funny. The nurses didn’t think much of it, and some time later he coded. Now family members can call this team, and they will look at your family member and tell you what the real story is. They are a step below the code team. I give the hospital credit for taking that initiative, and I hope the families realize that service is available to them.
The Executives ended saying that they were going to take our suggestions, and correct them. They were not going to act it out, and take it seriously. I hope to read about them, and the good that the hospital has done in their improvements. I told them that if Healthcare is so bad, they should be the model hospital, and that other hospitals should follow their lead.
My mother and I felt Uncle Bobby’s presence there, and we know that he was pleased with the outcome. We were able to vent out, and the hospital listened to us. It was also closure for us, as we were able to put this to rest, and know that Uncle Bobby too can rest in peace, and watch over us now like he has been.
I miss Uncle Bobby so much, and cannot wait until the day I meet him again in Heaven.