Warehousing young SCI patients
Hospitals have gotten more efficient at treating people with SCI. Hospital stays for trauma patients are a fraction of what they once were. Part of this is due to scientific advances. Part due to insurance companies that refuse to pay for longer hospital stays.
As soon as a person is medically stable, they are sent off. Usually the person still needs around the clock medical assistance. They also need training on how to deal with medical protocols that are suddenly going to be part of their every day life. Often the patient cannot be sent immediately home. Sometimes the patient can never be sent home.
Nursing homes have skilled care on staff but cost much less than hospitals. Yet they are filled with the elderly. It is shocking to see a young child or person in a nursing home. They are totally out of place. But unless the town has an inpatient spinal cord rehabilitation center, there is nowhere else for them to go.
In this AP article, a young quadriplegic named Martin talks about his fears of remaining in a nursing home for the rest of his life. Martin was accidentally shot in the neck last year by his stepbrother. This type of an accident might have been covered by a homeowner’s policy. Insurance funds are precious to those with SCI. Apparently no insurance was available to Martin. He worries that as a medicaid recipient, he will live the rest of his days in a nursing home.
It’s no longer unusual to find a nursing home resident who is decades younger than his neighbor: About one in seven people now living in such facilities in the U.S. is under 65. But the growing phenomenon presents a host of challenges for nursing homes, while patients like Martin face staggering isolation.
“It’s just a depressing place to live,” Martin says. “I’m stuck here. You don’t have no privacy at all. People die around you all the time. It starts to really get depressing because all you’re seeing is negative, negative, negative.”