Thursday, March 30, 2006

Crisis: Losing Jona

Ana called from the agency Wednesday evening to say that Jona would not be coming to work today because of a doctor's appointment.
I agreed to work her shift, arriving at 6 am to dress my mother and get her to breakfast.
When I walked into the room, she was sleeping sweetly while Stephen Foster's "Beautiful Dreamer" filled the air. Kim, the night caregiver, had put the Reader's Digest Quiet Music for Quiet Listening into her CD player.
"Beautiful dreamer, wake unto me! Dew drops and roses are waiting for thee...."
I chatted with Kim, then took care of Mom and handed her over to the Ocean View staff at 8 am with suggestions for how to manage her morning, greatful that Connie would be arriving at 2 pm.
But in the evening, Ana called again. I hate seeing her name on the face of my cell phone; it's always bad news, that a caregiver will not be showing up. She said that Jona will not be returning to work until after her baby was born in June. The doctor whom she saw today ordered her not to do any lifting or heavy work--to quit her job.
What a shock! On Monday I had painfully reduced Jona's hours to four per day, on Tuesday she had declined to work such limited hours, and on Wednesday we had arrived at the happy conclusion that she would keep her eight-hour shift until the end of June.
But that afternoon she had gone home and helped her mother, as usual, with the lifting and handling of her 16-year-old brother, who is confined to a wheelchair with cerebral palsy. In doing so, she had strained herself accidentally and caused bleeding, perhaps loosening the baby's placenta. The doctor had ordered no more lifting at all, either with her brother or by working with Mom.
"What do you want me to do for next week?" asked Ana. "Connie can't work the morning shift. Do you want me to hire someone for it? Racquel might be able to do it on Thursday and Friday mornings, and Connie could work on Tuesday and Saturday mornings for eight hours and maybe work two or three evening shifts a week."
"I don't know, " I said for the second time in two days. "Let me think about it."
Thursday evening ends with the prospect of suddenly never seeing Jona again, who has cared for Mom six days a week since October, 2004. Perhaps she will come by after the birth of her baby.
Should I hire someone to replace her? Or should I patch together a plan using Racquel and Connie, Mom's weekend and evening caregivers, for the morning shift? Or should I just hand Mom over the the Ocean View staff for the morning shift?
Jona told me yesterday that the Ocean View staff has its heaviest workload in the morning hours 6-9 am, getting the 31 residents up and dressed and to breakfast. She was saying that it wouldn't be a good idea to ask them to give her a shower then--it would be rushed.
I wish I could get Mom's care settled once and for all.
Meanwhile, I have to be there early tomorrow morning to substitute for Jona.

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