Our experience with Mission Hospital
To the editor:
This is a synopsis of our experience with Mission Hospital, following my husband Hugh’s stroke on Feb. 20, 2020. I write this as a word of warning to anyone who will need to use that hospital system, especially during this current medical crisis.
At 5 a.m. on the morning of Feb. 20, Hugh was up getting ready for work. I noticed his voice sounded odd and when I looked at him, the left side of his face was drooping. Our daughter (a paramedic), who thankfully had stayed overnight with us, took one look at her daddy, and called 911. Our daughter insisted Hugh be taken to Mission because of their stroke unit.
We arrived at Mission soon after six. Hugh’s blood pressure was 228/126, where it hovered most of the day. Hugh had been hooked to an IV in the ambulance, which was not hooked back up in the hospital ER.
Even though Hugh told the ER doctor, that he had been fine at 2:30 a.m., the ER doctor chose not to treat Hugh with the protocol that is supposed to reduce the long-term effects of stroke. He seemed to believe that Hugh’s stroke was very mild, and perhaps didn’t reach that marker?
At this point however, Hugh will be starting long-term disability in August, after exhausting short-term disability. It is becoming apparent, that he might not be returning to work at all based on the ongoing issues he is dealing with. Some of these are: left-side weakness, his left hand spasms causing him to drop things and when he tires (he tires easily), his thinking gets fuzzy and confused.
Around 2:30 a.m., I drove home to pick-up what I needed for the night. When arriving back at 4 a.m., Hugh had been moved to a room on the forth floor. I stopped at the nurses station to find out if he had been given a swallow test they insisted he needed before he could have anything to eat or drink. The nurse said that the therapist that would have done that, had already left for the day.
This is where it gets really ugly. Hugh had not been hooked back to a monitor upstairs. He had nothing to eat or drink in over 24 hours. He had not even been hooked back to an IV to replace fluids. From 4 a.m. until 7 p.m. not one person even stuck their head into his room to check on him! His head was hurting badly. This could have been a result of the stroke, but I had a suspicion it was related to dehydration. It was time I took matters into my own hands.
I walked to the nurses station and asked to speak with a patient advocate. The nurse behind the desk, told me they didn’t have patient advocates but could one of them help me?
I said “I hope someone can help me,” as I looked around at the eight to 10 people standing there. “My husband arrived at your hospital at 6 this morning. He has a terrible headache, perhaps because of dehydration in addition to the stroke? We were told he must have a swallow test before he could have anything to eat or drink. That test never happened today.
Hugh has also not been re-hooked to an IV since leaving the ambulance. He has not been re-hooked to a monitor since coming upstairs three hours ago and no one has even opened his door to check on him one time."
It was explained to me that Hugh needed to remain in the hospital because the risk of a second stroke in the first 24 hours was elevated. If Hugh had suffered another stroke, no one would have even known. "This is how you can help me," I said. "You can get a doctor to his room within one hour, or you can have an ambulance ready to transport him back to Haywood Regional.”
We did have a doctor in Hugh’s room within an hour. He actually apologized, admitting that “This hospital dropped the ball.” Within a short time, Hugh was hooked to an IV and a monitor. His blood pressure was still critically high (not dropping under 185/116 until he was released a few days later). This doctor left orders that Hugh’s vitals be checked every hour.
It occurs to me, that this “for profit” hospital has placed profit over patient care. We noticed the age of the fourth floor staff seemed mostly on the young side. We saw very few nurses that looked as though they had been in the field long enough to have acquired much needed experience.
Our daughter said that she had heard rumors that Mission hospital had become very substandard, but that she hadn’t believed it until our family had experienced such substandard care ourselves.
Because of COVID-19, I am highly concerned for patients who cannot have a personal caregiver with them. If I had not been with my husband during his stay, I truly shudder to think what the outcome might have been. Even so, I think his outcome (four months later), is not as it should have been based on the inadequate care he received over the entirety of the first day.
Editor's note: Mission Hospital was invited to respond to this letter but no response was received.