Happy Birthday Dad. Today, March 17, 2014, you would have been 89. Imagine that! I don’t know if you would have lived this long, nobody ever knows. I do know that your life was cut short by a preventable deadly Hospital infection. That was not fair to you, and certainly not fair to us, the ones left behind who love you and miss you.
Five years have passed since Dad died. My observations while I spent time at his bedside, and as he suffered through the life draining Hospital infection MRSA, were that prevention was sadly lacking. I watched as caregivers used varying levels of precautions….from handwashing, to gloves, to gowns and masks. Some did it well, some did nothing. It was mostly the doctors who did nothing….no gloves, didn’t clean the stethoscope, no mask, gloves or gown. It was ok sometimes because one doctor didn’t even come into the room….he did his routine visit without touching Dad at all…..he stood away from him and asked, “How ya doing John?” Apparently that doctor didn’t believe in hands-on medicine. His approach to infection control was…”I’m keeping my distance and none of this infection for me!!
I grilled his caregivers and the administers of his hospital with questions, both in person and in letters. None of the responses were productive or complete. The most important piece of information that my family could have been given should have come the day of admission. They had an outbreak of MRSA, with 2 deaths just before Dad was admitted that fateful day in September 2008. Nobody told us that, and he was admitted without true informed consent. He was placed in a Hospital with an outbreak, and with his health problems, he was ripe for infection. It’s strange and frightening how a simple ankle fracture can escalate to a deadly MRSA infection in a Hospital setting and in just a few days. Hospitals are definitely very dangerous places.
A MRSA outbreak, lousy handwashing and precautions compliance, random rooming together of infected or colonized patients with uninfected and vulnerable patients, and failure to escalate prevention steps according to CDC regulations for outbreaks all led to the infection that took my father away. And as long as I draw breath myself, I will fight for improvement, not just in that Hospital, but all hospitals.
My mother now lives a very lonely solitary life, alone in the house that she and Dad shared for over half a century. Her memory is failing, so she doesn’t recall details about Dad’s illness and death, and that is ok. Sometimes memory loss is good. The memories about Dad’s infection and suffering are very painful.
I will go out somewhere Dad and have a green beer and toast you on your birthday. You are still very alive in my heart.