PLYMOUTH, MA – Intern Douglas McCombs was surprised to learn this morning that a patient on the medical service, who had been deemed a “rock” due to the myriad social issues that prevented their discharge, was, in fact, a rock.
The patient, whose identity is not being released, had been on the medical service for a total of 43 days, but could not be placed. “While he was medically cleared for discharge, he did not have any safe living arrangements, or family, or insurance, and no nursing home would accept him,” explained the social worker Wanda Willoughby. “We tried everything, but the plan was sort of just to keep him until he decided to leave or his emergency Medicaid application went through.”
McCombs explained how he came about this discovery. “Every day since I came on this service, we just skipped by his room on morning rounds. I think I maybe looked in through the door window once. My chief explained on my first day that nobody went in there, since the patient was a medically stable social disaster. They said it was a waste of time and energy that could be better spent optimizing a patient for surgery or complaining to the ED about a new admission.”
“This morning, I actually went in there by mistake. I thought I was on another floor, and went in there expecting to see Ms. Goldsmith, a 70-year-old lady with CHF. I was shocked when I pulled back the covers and saw there was just this big boulder there. I looked under the bed, in the bathroom, but the patient was nowhere to be found. All I could see was a bunch of trays of untouched pureed renal diet, which I promptly dug into… I’ve been so hungry!”
“This is great news for him socially,” remarked Willoughby. “This will make him a lot easier to place now, since his behavioral issues, drug problems, fall risk and HIV are essentially eliminated as factors. We will probably have him to a nursing home by tomorrow.”