Protecting People while they are in the hospital…

If you are someone’s citizen advocate, one role you play in the life of the person you are advocating for is that of protector. People with disabilities are ALWAYS at risk of getting less than the best. – Tom Kohler

In January Tom Kohler led a conversation with citizen advocates about how to protect their protégé when they are in the hospital. Tom has developed a booklet on this topic that is available by calling (912-236-5798) or emailing us at the citizen advocacy office [email protected].

At the meeting, citizen advocate Richard Lane shared his experiences with helping his protégé navigate surgery and recovery, as well as a new diabetes diagnosis.

Citizen advocate LeAndrea Mikell shared how she is supporting a mother whose baby is in the hospital to have her voice heard and to ensure that the baby is getting the best possible medical treatment.

Here are just a few of the discussion points from the evening:

  • Assume at having a thoughtful, competent person at the bedside 24/7 is the best.
  • Consider this person a PROTECTOR – not a sitter, not a friendly visitor, but a protector.
  • You may not be a professional or an expert, but you are there for just one person.
  • Common sense and concern go a long way toward helping in almost any situation.
  • Be proactive, be intentional, be protective, be intense.
  • Ask: How serious is the medical condition? How strongly is the person devalued? What is the reputation of care in this particular place?

How can we apply this practical knowledge to the new Coronavirus normal? We know that when people are being admitted to hospital with the virus, other people are not allowed to go in with them. Also, nursing homes, group homes and other congregate living facilities are likely closed to all visitors.

With that being said, being proactive, intentional, and intense are still good ways to protect your protege.

Some questions to consider to be proactive…

  • How will I know how my protege is doing during this time of sheltering in place? Can I be in touch by telephone and other ways to check in weekly?
  • How will I know if my protege is in the hospital? Is there a note in their file for staff to call me if something happens?
  • Do I have the cell phone number of a staff member or building manager?
  • What is the plan if my protege goes to the hospital?
  • Who is in charge at the hospital?
  • Who is in charge of care and medical decision making with and on behalf of my protege? Is this a role I need to assume?
  • Is my protege more vulnerable to having a “Do Not Resuscitate” order due to undervaluing people with disabilities?

Just a few of the questions we are helping citizen advocates think through as they are proactive, intentional, and intense to offer protection and advocacy with and on behalf of their protege.