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A Cautionary Tale

To the Editor:

This letter is being sent to share our experiences with fellow Newtowners so that perhaps they can be more prepared than we were when my husband was being discharged from Danbury Hospital for rehabilitation after surgery. We had chosen a well known rehab center, but they would not accept my husband because of a medication he takes. We were informed of this fact by the Case Manager as we were being briefed for the discharge. At that point, we were handed a packet titled Skilled Nursing Facility Placements with six pages of suggestions of how you should choose a facility along with a list of all the places in Fairfield County that ran four pages. We had less than an hour to make a choice, the hospital cannot make any recommendations, and my husband went to Watermark in Southbury. They sent a representative out to meet with us and it sounded like Watermark would meet his needs.

Little did we know the following: 

Watermark had the right to move him out of the small rehabilitation wing into a room with an Alzheimer’s patient since they needed his room for two female patients. I had signed a document that said they had the right to move him, but I thought that meant within the rehab wing. My husband did not get much rest because his roommate kept setting off the alarms. After that man was discharged, they gave my husband another roommate who was admitted at nine o’clock at night at the poor man was very disoriented and upset. Once again, my husband got only two hours sleep. It is important to choose a facility whose purpose is strictly rehabilitation. 

We also did not know the shower policy. They told us that they showered the patients only once a week.  They gave my husband a shower the first night because we kept on requesting it. The next shower he received was eight days later when I had to ask again why he hadn’t gotten one. He had gotten the flu and a urinary tract infection or I would have been more proactive about the shower.

Check on how quickly medications get delivered to the facility. I learned that there are three pharmaceutical distribution centers in Connecticut that control delivery to most of the nursing homes in the area. This means that medications can be delivered very late in the day depending on the courier routes.

The nursing staff and aides at Watermark were wonderful and did their best under very trying circumstances. I cannot say enough things about their kindness and genuine concern, but their professionalism could not make up for the conditions that exist which are so counterproductive to healing and rehabilitation.

Please take the time to research several of the facilities in the area. Visit them. Look at their physical therapy area (the one at Watermark, by the way, was well run).

Liz Arneth

4 Settlers Lane, Sandy Hook                                          April 24, 2013 

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