Long Distance Crisis

By Carol McShane, RN, MS, CMC
President of Nebraska Nursing Consultants

The following story is about my own mother and the circumstances that inspired me to found NNC.

Having provided geriatric care management services since 1991, I can tell you that this story is not unique. It is retold here to illustrate that this company was born of circumstances that may be all too familiar to readers with elderly relatives, clients, or patients. Unfortunately, my sisters and I did not act before the crisis. Perhaps you are seeking a care manager now to avoid a similar crisis.

In 1990, my 80-year-old mother was living in Florida. She was generally a healthy person, fully capable of speaking for herself. I was in Lincoln, Nebraska. My sisters were in Boston, Massachusetts, and Fort Wayne, Indiana.

It was a Sunday, time for the weekly phone call. Somehow, Mother just didn't sound right. She wasn't making sense. We sisters huddled long-distance on the phone. None of us could get there right away. Her Florida friends were elderly and not especially helpful in a crisis. We knew we needed an independent professional to be there for us. After a frantic, inefficient, pre-internet search, we finally located and engaged a Registered Nurse in private practice in Florida who would go to see her. The nurse-"Barbara"-reported to us that Mother was confused, had a temperature of 103 and that she was taking her to the emergency room. It turned out that Mother had been given a new blood thinning medication that had compromised her immune system. She now had a raging infection. She was confused and sick.

Barbara stayed with Mother in the ER and helped with her admission to the hospital. She made sure Mother got the care she needed and continued to communicate with her primary care physician, my sisters, and me. What a godsend she was!

Fortunately, I was able to fly to Florida the next day. A week later, Mother's health stabilized and she was discharged to her apartment. Because I could leave her in Barbara's care, I felt comfortable returning to Lincoln to resume family and job commitments. Barbara would visit her to be sure her recovery continued. My sisters and I were greatly relieved to have had a Registered Nurse monitoring Mother's care, advocating for her, and keeping us informed. Even my mother-who has Depression-Era frugality-agreed that it was "probably a good idea" for Barbara to stop in occasionally.

In the airplane, en route home, I determined that:

  1. I did not ever want my mother in an emergency room or hospital alone, without an advocate.
  2. We should have engaged an independent nurse care manager before the crisis.
  3. I would start such a service in Nebraska.

Within a year, Nebraska Nursing Consultants was up and running.

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