On Wednesday afternoon I received a voicemail from the nursing agency. I braced myself for the possibility that the nurse had to call out that night. The message, from the Director herself, was vague only saying she needed to speak with me. A message like that is never good. My mind immediately went to an issue with insurance coverage.
So I called back (and actually had our insurance information up on my computer). Turns out, I was way off topic. The concern was one of our regular nurses asked for removal from Ryan’s case. The reason? She felt uncomfortable; stemming from the absence of nursing coverage on Easter Sunday. She felt she was being “penalized” for not being here. More on that statement later.
Before I get into this I need to make two things clear: 1) someone should feel uncomfortable about leaving us hanging on Easter, and 2) it’s not my fault. I am not the bad guy here. Let me explain.
The nurse who has the regular Sunday through Tuesday shift didn’t want to work Easter Sunday (or any other holiday ever, for that matter). The nursing agency granted her request, but did so without assuring it was back-filled. The result… we had no nurse. This is why I say I’m not the bad guy here. In every respect, we’re the only party that lost out. The nurse had the day off. The agency didn’t have to cover (holiday pay?). We suffered. Tell me how I am to blame?
Let me share how I would have handled this if I were the agency scheduler. It would actually be company policy… you know, I now remember reading in the agency newsletter that it is a policy. I would have told the nurse that she is expected to work her shift, but will do what can be done to give her the day off. The determining factor being able to back-fill the shift. If no one else picks it up then the regular nurse must report. Problem solved. Better yet, it’s solved internally and has no client impact.[Fast forward to last Monday]
You might recall from my Tuesday post, Sleep! Who Needs it?, that I was exhausted. So exhausted that I crashed on the couch the instant Sue came home from work. I really didn’t spend time with the nurse that night (because I was gone to the world). Tuesday night was roughly the same. The difference being I was able to help Sue and the nurse with Ryan’s shower and get him settled into bed. Once this was done I immediately plopped down on the couch in the adjoining room. Except for a brief, thirty second discussion about some expired medicine, I didn’t interact with the nurse.
So, imagine my surprise when the agency tells me the nurse is “uncomfortable” with me and felt like I was “penalizing” her for not working her shift. My opinion? She felt guilty and mistakenly took my exhaustion as frustration toward her. I heard she read my post from the night before (and it was confirmed by a disjointed comment left by her family under the alias “Larry”), It’s Just too Much… Too Often and probably saw the truth in it. Granted, I was not my usual hilarious self when she did return to work. In my defense, sleep deprivation tends to make me a bit less jovial. You know, like everyone else in the world.
I suppose — and I’m reaching here — one could argue that I penalized her by being less entertaining. Hey, it wasn’t like I replaced the comfy sofa we provide for her with a bed of nails. I didn’t even deny her internet access through our wireless network (which really would have messed up her smartphone compulsion). The ONLY thing that changed was my level of exhaustion. I actually have video surveillance of me just lying around (and her on her smartphone both nights), if the agency needs any proof I wasn’t acting like I was the law. Hey, it’s not my place to impose punishment for job performance since she doesn’t technically work for me. Besides, everyone who reads this blogs knows I handle issues directly and quickly (“plow through them”), trying to be non-confrontational when possible. I don’t play around when it comes to my children. If I were going to dole out discipline, she’d know it. I’d leave no doubt (and would flat-out tell her she is in trouble with me). Real and raw, baby!
As a side note, I asked my harshest critic (Sue) if I seemed pissy. She’s always quick (and oddly, happy) to point out my shortcomings. She said, “No. You were exhausted. I don’t understand it”.
So, where do we go from here? I would expect the nursing agency finds an immediate replacement without any lapse in coverage. If they can not, then they should make this nurse complete her assigned shifts with Ryan for the month (it is their policy, after all). If this doesn’t happen then I would probably need to create some awareness at the firm’s national office. I really don’t want (or expect) this to happen, but I’m preparing myself just the same. I would likely suggest they be brought up to speed by reviewing this blog and speaking with the Regional Director before we actually chat.
By the way, it’s my opinion that it’s quite unprofessional to leave without adequate notice… typically two weeks. I would hope the agency is even more upset since they are really the ones scrambling here (so far it’s had no impact on us). It’s not like she was in a dangerous environment or being harassed. If you break it down, her claim is I was unpleasant. She contends that my lack of interaction was penalizing her. Hardly a reason to screw both the client and employer, yes? I just wish she would have asked my if I were angry. I would have answered her honestly that I’m not angry, just exhausted.
Let me just make one thing clear. I love the nursing agency we use, particularly the Regional Director. They have been nothing but great to us. Even when they make a mistake they own up to it and try to make it right. It’s a tough industry to find an adequate supply of nurses, let alone top-notch ones. The nurse that is leaving us, although average in nursing skills, was very nice to us. Our only reservation was she never took a deep interest in Ryan (he was a job to her), but this is not a job requirement and I had no grounds to complain (or penalize, as it were). There are no hard feelings toward her on our part. Especially since I knew she was prone to poor judgement from her sharing life stories. This rash decision merely confirms it.
She really did have a nice set-up here. I doubt she’ll find another case where the parents are this involved, have burgers grilled or take-out for her, allow her to arrive late every night and leave early when needed, watch the television shows she likes, calm her fears (she’s afraid of the dark… and everything else), and laugh this much. But, with her just able to walk away from Ryan like that we would never entertain the idea of bringing her back. Good riddance, I say! We do these favors for the other regular nurse too. She is, in every respect, the best! If she left then we really would have a problem. Last night I asked her to do two things: 1) Please let me know if I appear angry at her, and 2) Please don’t just quit on us without discussion. Her answer? “Of course”, she said, “that’s only fair”. You see, this is how responsible people handle things is the adult world.
Anyhow, This nurse that left has single-handedly caused me to review how I want to manage coverage going forward. I feel like I need to bring it more under my control. As a replacement is being sought out by the agency I will begin seeking a more permanent resolution. I’ll see if Sue will check with our insurance to see how much we can pay out if we hire privately. I’m also curious if they need to be nurses or can we hire and train a caregivers?
If we can hire and train ourselves then I know there is a community out there that is more than willing to help.