Not so long ago I encountered a patient that seemed really gruff on the outside (I will refer to him as Henry) but once I got to know him I realized he was really just a big teddy bear needing some TLC and a little extra help. Maybe it was his pride that made him seem gruff or maybe it was due to the fact that his health was deteriorating very quickly and he was frightened. Who really knows?!
Things seemed to be going rather smoothly. Doctors Care was able to provide him with the specialists he needed, he was able to feel good about paying the providers his percentage and Doctors Care was able to help him apply for a new program called Adults without Dependent Children Medicaid. Shortly after all of this, Henry’s health started to change. About a week before Christmas of 2011, I received a call from Henry (this patient would call me weekly – I think he did this for support and just to let me know how things were going). He stated that his doctor told him to enjoy this Christmas as it would probably be his last as his health was deteriorating so quickly. I tried to encourage him because several times before this incident, he didn’t think he was going to make it because of his deteriorating health. I told him, “you beat the odds before, you can beat them again!” However, just days after Christmas, I was contacted by Henry’s good friends stating that, “we need to get a referral to hospice. Henry can no longer care for himself and he has little to no family support. And as much as we would like, we are unable to meet all of his medical care needs.” It was with a heavy heart that I arranged home hospice care with one of our providers for Henry. Shortly after that, I lost contact with Henry as he had been accepted onto the Medicaid program that Doctors Care had helped him apply for.
Sadly, at the end of October of 2012, I received a letter from Henry’s kind and loving friends, stating that he had passed away. I was devastated. Our goal at Doctors Care is to help people get well, help them get the care they need so that they can continue to lead healthy, happy, fulfilling lives. In some ways I thought I failed this patient. He was too young to die. But then I read on… “Doctors Care took care of our good friend. Without your support and that of the Doctors Care organization, our friend’s last months would have been horrible. Our friend received high quality medical care, visiting nurse support, psychological services, and hospice care that helped him live and die with dignity. Henry had little family support, so your services were invaluable to him and to us, his loving friends.”
Although the story has a sad ending, I learned something invaluable. Not only did I or Doctors Care not fail this patient, we helped this patient “live and die with dignity.” Wow! What a revelation that was! This would be what I would call the “silver lining” in that grey cloud.