Letter: A Personal Account at the Portage County Health Care Center Facility
To the Editor:
To the residents of Portage County, I would like to share with you my past experience while recovering at the Portage County Health Care Center facility. After spending a week in the hospital recovering from surgery from a lower half femur bone and complete knee replacement my wife and I decided that I would enter PCHCC for at least a week or longer if needed to recover until I would not be such a burden on her in our own home. The reason we picked this facility was because we had heard a few local doctors recommend this facility to patients for recovery and we didn’t know of any place else to attend at the time. This was the best decision we made as I will explain later.
Before this tragic experience I was in this facility one other time and that was two visits to see my 105 year old Aunt who had fractured her hip from a fall at her home. I will have to admit that as a Portage Co resident of 60 plus years, I’ve heard a lot of negative stories and my perception of this facility was that it was built and staffed for the old, sick, and demented and staff often did not respond to patients timely. The big one, once you’re in there you will never leave unless it’s in a body bag. How misguided and miss informed I was! To start with, as I was met at the facility’s entrance by a professional physical therapist, he knew exactly how to handle me and explained every move before making it, got me into a properly fitted wheel chair, I knew then I was in good hands in that department.
Once inside the facility I was assigned a private room. The room was approximately 12’ square with a 3’ entrance door, a set of curtained windows, a 3’ open counter topped style sink, about 4’ wide by 8’ tall sectioned shelved cupboard space with4 – 12” wide doors for clothing, towels, etc., an electric recliner, rolling TV tray with a waste basket, an upright chair, small night stand, wall mounted TV, and an older electric reclining single bed against the wall with corded controls and a corded call switch.
Above the center of the bed is a pull corded wall mounted light, and lastly, a 3’x6’ Jack and Jill toilet. No frills or thrills, old in style but kept up, clean, and adequate. My first few days I was handled mostly nurses and nurse assistants. From bed to recliner to Jack and Jill I needed assistance along with clean up. Yes, this staff is priceless, they handle you gently, compassionately, timely and properly.
As I gained strength and became more independent, professional physical and occupational therapy followed to where I was able to become self-sufficient in getting to totally navigate in my room with the aid of a wheel chair, walker and eventually crutches. The therapists there are a God send; they know which muscles to work on and how far to push you. Three meals a day are served with a variety of dishes each day. Portions and drinks are semi tailored to your liking. I would rate the food an 8 on a scale of 1-10. As I progressed I would spend some of my free time at in house sponsored events which were entertaining and helped pass the days away. Wheel chair bound I would spend time with my wife, who came every day, cruising up and down the halls of the wings reading the name tags on the rooms to see if there was anyone we knew.
To my surprise there were a few. The one that really surprised me the most was a gentleman I worked with when in high school, weekends and summers. Through the years after graduation and different circles, association was lost until now. I’ll call him Jim to protect his identity, was occupying one of the rooms in a different wing than me. Not knowing at the time how or why Jim was there I had no idea (staff cannot discuss patient conditions) we talked of old times at work and laughed about all the pranks we pulled. After my third visit with Jim he divulged to my wife and I that he was hit with crippling MS.
As I observed his room, his walls are filled with photos of family, coloring drawings and cards from grandchildren, and even a deer mount on the wall. Jim had been there awhile and will probably be there awhile more. One thing I can say is he seemed to accept his condition and makes the best of it and his surroundings and appears to be well taken care of. During our tours of the remaining wings I did notice “older folks”, some who did appear to have dementia and some who seemed to have no place else to go or be, a number of rooms were also empty. I also met a couple from Waupaca County where the healthy spouse drove back and forth everyday while his wife received chemo treatments daily and recovered at the home after.
According to him Waupaca County does not have a facility like this. My point is this facility in not just for old dementia dying feeble but for all different short fall health conditions. For fellow county residents who have never been in this facility or have thought as I did before my stay, I hope this sheds some light on what really goes on in this facility. To our present County Executive, I know you have done some wonderful things during your tenure but thinking of putting out a referendum to close this facility is not one of them. Shame on you! Somethings are not all about dollars and cents, if so, you and the rest of the county board members should be brainstorming on how to come up with the shortfalls, not shutting the doors.
A person never knows when misfortune strikes and a facility such as this is a necessity. Raise rates, advertise and promote this wonder service that is right here in our front yard. Remodel, refurbish if necessary to attract more clientele, run fund raisers similar to Untied Way to help support, do a complete cost analysis and find out where to make corrections, but do not close this facility. As for the upcoming candidates’ running for Portage County Executive; I’ve read your political comments and opinions on this facility and can tell none of you have spent any time at this facility. On this important issue, spend a day at this facility, watch, observe and learn how these well trained personal handle their 24-7 duties. Become knowledgeable and for the sake of the Portage County residents take a stand!
Oh, I almost forgot. My 105 year old Aunt recovered in about 2 weeks and is back in her own home. I cannot thank you enough PCHCC staff for your service!