Tuesday, January 15, 2008

My Mom Does The Real Work

If you're reading this, then like me, you obviously have time to sit in a semi-vegetative state staring at the tubes of the internets. But while you and I idle away our day in front of the computer, my mom is out there busting her ass to care for ungrateful and often half-sane patients as a home care nurse, working for an even less sane bureaucracy.

In my vision, the home care field is supposed to be about maintenance - caring for people who are basically OK, but who need some minor, specialized assistance. In practice, however, home care has become a dumping ground for patients with financial hardships, mental problems, or chronic conditions. What is maddening is that though home care has become a necessity in modern medicine, the for-profit health care industry looks down on this field because it makes no money.

The dehumanizing influence of capital festers at all levels. Management is obsessed with tracking the whereabouts of its home care nurses, all degree-holding professionals. Meanwhile the office staff throw each other parties and nominate each other for employee of the month. Work nights? Yes. Now why would a patient who is "basically OK" need to be seen at night? Same goes for weekends. Low pay? Yes. Considering her skill and experience level, it's shamefully low. Loads of data entry on inferior software? Yep. The latest ridiculous cost-cutting measure: the company will not provide folders to store patients' paperwork! And the list goes on. It's comically horrifying.

The clincher: my mom, a twenty-plus-year home care veteran who turns 65 in June, had to work Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and New Year's Day in the last month, without any incentive pay. What the hell is that? She was actually scheduled to work the entire Christmas weekend, but had to call in sick because she was so sick she couldn't get out of bed.

My job is a cushy cakewalk compared to hers.


GeistX said...

I think I have shit and rough job. I sit on my ass all day and deal with problems surrounding bored managers, inanimate objects, and shoddy code on failing hardware. Then I see jobs others, like your mom does, or my mom does (she stocks shelves for Wal-Mart) and realize, it isn't so bad and I should be grateful for what I have.

Knight of Nothing said...

Ya, we've got it pretty goddamn easy.

I could write a whole essay about the software she uses! It requires nurses to enter the patient's religion, defaults a person's weight to milligrams, and has aliment codes such as "tobacco use disorder" and "vomit alone." Fuck n a.

mizverde said...

Holy crap, Batman. We are all blessed that people like her will still take on these tasks!

GeistX said...

I can't believe how shitty some software can be, even in this day and age. Must be either lazy programmers or worse, the company hired programmers fresh out of school with zero programming experience and no experience in the industry for which they are developing. At least where I work, each development group has a liaison who goes on the floor with the people who use it to see issues and see how people actually use it. They don't fuck around with medical software here. Now the business software on the other hand...one word...Lawson.

Knight of Nothing said...

I actually don't think it has everything to do with bad developers. There are plenty of lazy developers out there, to be sure. But to me, it doesn't seem to matter as much how good or bad the developers are.

Here's what I say: if you don't allow your in-the-field workers to talk directly to the developers, and deliver system requirements through a close dialog, the software is going to miss the mark almost every time.

In this case it is abundantly clear that management and the software developers had very little understanding of what a home-care nurse actually does or needs.