#EveryoneDeservesCare: Marcus and Cindy
November 2, 2022 / #EveryoneDeservesCare
In this #EveryoneDeservesCare story, we hear directly from Marcus and Cindy, who share how they have been impacted by the direct care workforce crisis. Cindy hopes her story will help even one other person.
Marcus: My mother, Cindy, was born on February 3, 1958, and was born and raised in the west of Cleveland. Later in life, she and my father relocated to Medina County. Cindy was born with cerebral palsy, making her unable to walk, along with a few medical problems, including incontinence. My father, who was my mother’s primary caretaker, died of a sudden heart attack at age 53 in 2014. That’s when the nightmare started. It took about 10 months to get a home health aide in the home. Social workers of Medina County along with Medicaid and Medicare went back and forth to get my mother a shower chair. She went a year without a proper shower, having to bathe in the kitchen sink.
Then came the numerous home health aides, aides that were physically and mentally abusive, aides who stole my mother’s debit card and cash. The home health aides would often tell my mother that they were not paid enough, often showing up at inconsistent times and sometimes not at all. The home health aides were also untrained.
Cindy had a lift to get in and out of bed, but the aides did not know how to properly use the lift and would at times drop Cindy, resulting in her living in constant fear. Just before COVID hit, my mother’s general health and wellbeing declined because of this lack of care. When COVID hit, there were no home health aides available in Medina County. Due to a lack of general care, care for her incontinence, and care for her home, Cindy’s health further declined resulting in lengthy hospital stays.
“The problem is nobody wants to work for ten dollars an hour anymore. I don’t blame the aides and I don’t blame anybody, but our medical system has failed,” Cindy shared.
Marcus: Finally, the social workers said she had been in the hospital too long, and that her medical insurance would not pay for further hospital stays. This resulted in Cindy bouncing from a variety of short-term care nursing homes. In these several different nursing homes, Cindy was again not cared for and her health declined even further. Also, the conditions in these facilities were absolutely disturbing, just filthy.
Finally, the social workers of Medina County said that my mother had to get rid of her home and move into a long-term care facility. My father worked 2 and 3 jobs until his death. My mother lost everything – her home and her independence – due to a lack of home health aides. Her home was sold with the majority of her personal possessions still inside, as there was no room in her one-room nursing home.
Cindy recalls this nightmare the exact same way. “They took ME away, they took me away – I can’t be myself. I hope and pray you never have to be in one of these places. I’ll never give up because I’ll get to see my husband again.”
Marcus: Cindy now resides at the Avenue at Medina Care and Rehabilitation Center. Her incontinence is not cared for properly and her medication is given to her inconsistently, and at times not at all. During her time at the Avenue, her health has declined due to a lack of care to the point where she now needs a colostomy bag.
“They don’t have enough aides in here. It’s not getting better. I have to lay in pee all night and wait two or three hours in the morning to get changed. [Then the nurses wonder] ‘Why do I get a cold?’”, Cindy said about her lack of care at the Avenue.
Marcus: Cindy is defeated and depressed and feels that she has been put in a room to die, all because of a lack of home health aides and a lack of aides in the nursing home itself. I think the entire system for elderly care is broken. I am visually disabled and unable to physically assist my mother. I have written to lawyers, and news outlets and filed complaints with the Ohio Department of Health, but there has been no change. Honestly, I feel that no one within the system cares. The system only cares for the wealthy.
“I’m very proud of my son,” Cindy said when asked about Marcus writing her story. “He’s all I have. He took the time to write that letter, he’s grown but he’s still my baby.”
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