By Emily Ferguson and Ebony Black
Today our immersion group had the opportunity to tour Grady Memorial Hospital and it’s dialysis floor. We picked this immersion to learn how local immigrants navigate through the healthcare system with the many restrictions that are imposed.
When we walked in there were already over 20 people in the waiting room waiting to receive dialysis. Most of the population needed interpreters, but there were only a few on hand so it was difficult for everyone in our group to have a patient student interaction. Ebony and I got the opportunity to talk to one of the patient’s caretaker who also was the patient’s child.
This caretaker has been going to Grady for over ten years now, since that time the caretaker has only had time to graduate high school, help raise a younger sibling, maintain a household, maintain a part time job, and help take care of both ill parents. It was truly an amazing experience to be able to listen to such a story. This individual is one of the most selfless human beings I have ever met. When asked about the typical daily schedule, the patient’s care taker replied with starting the day with giving parent 1 all the food that is allotted for the day per dialysis diet, help the younger sibling off to school, make sure parent 2 is taken care of, give both parents their daily meds, etc. We asked if there was any help from family and or government, but given their circumstances, this young caretaker is all alone for these tasks.
It was interesting to hear that typically dialysis patients start at 7 AM, but in actuality patients arrive 4-6 AM to be able to get one of the first spots. Twice a week the caretaker mentioned above, gets to the clinic at 6 AM and typically is there till 10 PM. There almost seems like there is not enough hours in the day for this individual to do it all. It was amazing to hear a third party perspective to this process and it is amazing how selfless some family members can be to help their loved ones.
Often as students we learn about diseases such as chronic kidney disease from the textbook which can allow some emotional disconnect from what a patient is experiencing. Having the opportunity to interview dialysis patients and their caretakers allowed for us to connect to the patient on a closer level. Today we had moments of sadness, disappointment and some angry when learning about the federal and governmental infrastructures that limited the care that the patients receive. However, what we took away from this how as future nurses how we can advocate for our patients when they are not able to do so for themselves.