Where's the commitment?
Well, I see the new Madras prison, excuse me, I mean the new addition to the Madras Hospital and Nursing home, is coming along. But wait, tell me what size are the cells in the new county jail? My friend Don Vandenberg, a quadriplegic, lives in the nursing home; they recently moved Don from his private room to a smaller room.
Don does beautiful computer assisted art work when his computer is set up. Right now it isn’t. When I first met Don, several months ago, his room was crowded, but not cramped, with the computer, a copy machine, his powered chair and his bed. The room also contained other, ancillary items, such as a file cabinet and a small refrigerator. These are things he needs to continue doing his art. This man has been confined to a wheel chair, or his bed, for a large part of his adult life; his art work is all that keeps him sane.
The State of Oregon went to great lengths to make Don’s life livable; to give him a means of stretching his mind and to add a little to his finances. The net profit on his art is low, especially considering the time and work it takes to create each one.
Now the nursing home, in a fit of misguided zeal, has decreed that no resident will be allowed to have a private room. They have moved Don into a room that is not only smaller, but has never held two patients in the past. The room is now configured for two patients; the total space allotted to Don is sixty-six and two third square feet; ninety-six by one hundred inches. This is barely enough room for a horse, in a good stable.
There is not nearly enough room for all of Don’s belongings considering that the nurses have to have access to his bedside. Don, in spite of his disability, is an active man. He has to be able to sit up and use his computer to do his art work as he did in the past. The space he has been allotted now will not allow that.
It appears from where I stand that Mountain View Hospital and its nursing home are trying to drive Don Vandenberg out. Indeed there have been pointed remarks made to him that he should look for another facility, where he could be more comfortable.
To the best of my knowledge, the nearest other facility capable of taking care of Don is in Bend, 40-plus miles away. This would be a terrible and unnecessary strain on him, his wife, and the friends who visit him.
There are two other things about the remodeling of the nursing home that trouble me. One has cost a great deal of money to install and will cost the nursing home $6,000 a month in lost revenue, forever. There is to be a small sitting room (private?) with its own entryway to the main courtyard; a semiprivate room was eliminated to make way for it. The floor of the proposed entryway is two feet above grade; even with a ramp to the courtyard’s walk, this door will barely be handicapped-accessible. Why do they need that particular new entryway at all? There are three others, all within seventy-five feet of the new one.
Can it be the nursing home is trying to recoup some of its lost revenue by forcing two beds into a room that is, and has been, too small?
The other thing that troubles me is the door from the chapel into an adjoining courtyard is not handicapped-accessible, and Don tells me there are no plans, to his knowledge, to make it so. The ledge at that doorway is only eight or nine inches; this would be a very cheap fix. Wheel chair bound hospital patients and nursing home residents alike would then be able to enjoy this courtyard and its pond. Don would be very happy to be able to use this particular courtyard; his grandchildren love it.
In closing, I would like to say an administrator who feels that residents in a nursing home are beans to be counted and put in a jar, or crammed into inadequate space, is ignoring his/her humanitarian obligation.