Hopitalization Wristband Project
I am so excited about the Hospitalization Wristband Project and the success Gary LeBlanc has had with the Brooksville Regional Hospital in Hernando County, Florida –
Congratulations to Gary Joseph LeBlanc and all his efforts to see this project come to life.
“If a patient comes into the hospital with a prior diagnosis of dementia, they will be administered the purple angel logo placed on their wristband. This logo is the international symbol for dementia awareness. Also there will be a magnetized purple angel placed on the door frame of the patient’s room.”
Gary began this project months ago and is finally realizing the fruits of his labor. This will mean a smoother hospital stay for those with Alzheimer’s /dementia symptoms. This acknowledgement accepts that the needs of someone with dementia may be very different than someone who does not have dementia during a hospital stay.
Besides the wristband, this will mean that the use of a sitter (hospital staff member) will become a standard practice for dementia patients. This will give the family members a chance to get respite and not having to be by their loved one’s side 24/7.
This being a pilot program, the first in the country, also has to go in front of a hospital research committee.
As for the training, which may be the most important part of this project, the hospital will be offering seminars that the Alzheimer’s Association and I are putting together. Educational credits will be offered through the hospital..
Early in my mother’s diagnosis she was hospitalized for four days with a different illness. The first day we heard grumblings and complaints from sleepy nurses and fatigued staff. They grumbled about the bad night they’d all suffered due to a single patient’s shenanigans during the night. After further questioning, I learned the guilty patient, who had screamed all night long, had been someone with dementia.
I was horrified. My hospitalized mother had just been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and I wondered if she would do the same if left alone. Since Mom was early into her disease, I had little experience with all that could happen to those with dementia; nightmares, sun-downers, yearning for home, restless sleeping, etc.
I spent the night with Mom with one eye half-open. She made it just fine and I felt foolish for even thinking she’d be as misbehaved as that other lady had been. Because, once again, at midnight, the other lady’s mournful wailing began. She continued with the loud, moaning sobs most of the second night as well.
It wasn’t until the third night that I thought it safe to go home and allow Mom to rest alone in her room. I could understand the nurses fatigue and needed a good night’s sleep myself.
Returning early the next morning, I noticed several nurses huddle in a whisper as I walked by. Then cold stares aimed at me from a few other staff members. Without anyone saying a word—I knew.
When I entered Mom’s room she was sound asleep, a nurse sat close to her bedside and held her hand. I tip-toed and began a whispering question, “Last night, did Mom…” the nurse’s head-nod began before I’d finished the sentence.
Mom had cried and moaned and screamed for me all night long. So instead of one dementia patient on the floor, the hospital staff had endured the sorrow of two frightened dementia patients. I still feel guilty when I remember this episode. Though I have learned, Caregiving is a process, and every incident is a lesson for learning.
Leaving someone with Alzheimer’s or dementia alone in a hospital is not a good idea. Besides wandering away if unattended, they are confused and seldom remember where or why they are there in the first place. If not a family member, they still need someone to hold their hand and offer comfort and reassurance so they know they aren’t abandoned.
Gary’s project will meet this need! And, to see that he has begun with this first hospital is simply outstanding! I’m sure that one hospital will turn into many many more and hopefully become the standard for all Medical Centers when someone with Alzheimer’s or dementia needs a hospital stay.
Gary is the author of “Staying Afloat in a Sea of Forgetfulness,” and co- author of “While I Still Can.” Also, a weekly columnist of “Common Sense Caregiving” published in the Tampa Tribune and Hernando Today and many other health publications.
His writings and speaking events utilize his 3,000 plus days and nights of personal caregiving experience to help other Alzheimer’s and dementia caregivers cope with the everyday challenges and emotional struggles of caring for the memory-impaired.