Rough Time in Manteca
Home Health Story #2
This incident occurred in Manteca, CA.
I scheduled an appointment with the DAUGHTER of my patient the day before for physical therapy examination. I arrived to the complex and was not warned by the daughter that is was gated. I had to call the numbers given to me which was the daughter's cell phone and patient's home phone. The daughter did not answer after multiple attempts, so I called the home phone. The patient answered with a speaking valve because she had tracheosotomy, making it difficult to talk in person let alone over the phone. (Remember those smoking kills commercials when they have to hold the hole in their neck to talk). We had an exchange with much difficulty but she eventually buzzed me in.
The community was poorly numbered and had no logic in my opinion. Finding the home was difficult and I drove a couple of times passed house without realizing it. While doing so I was noticing suspicious people glaring at me and not walking in any particular direction. For example walking with long collared shirts with thick under-layers, not walking toward the mailboxes, just not normal workout gear. When I finally found the home I parked across from the home and begin to walk towards the house with my backpack full of ankle weights, resistance bands, agility ladder, and physical therapy/vital sign tools. A suspicious lady was eyeing me as I was walking up the steps towards the door. I made sure to lock my car doors again out of paranoia. I was thinking "What the hell is going on here." I knock on the door, while waiting on the porch more people were eyeing me and looked like they were surrounding me in an organized fashion. I said to myself "I am being set up like in the action movies." My mind is racing through all the stop signs i rolled through, speed limits that I used as guidelines, cars that I have cut off in traffic. I ignore my anxiety and focus on my patient. The patient opens the door with a walker, oxygen with nasal cannula, and speaking valve to allow her to talk. I go in.
I started my examination, setting up my tools, asking questions, and performing my assessment. It is loud in the home because of the oxygen concentrator, the patient's speaking valve, and AC unit all going off at the same time. I was speaking with elevated voice because the patient was hard of hearing and I was also having trouble understanding what she was saying. I had not interacted with a person with a speaking valve before. Then a booming female voice from from behind closed doors yells "she cant talk asshole." I told her thank you and asked if she could help me understand the patient. After a colorful back and forth I discovered that it was my patients granddaughter. We will call her Steph. Steph eventually helped answer the questions I needed to get through my examination and completed my assessment without leaving the back room. After 45 minutes Steph never came out of the back room, which I assumed was a bathroom because I kept hearing the sound of flushing. This all seemed peculiar so I just asked if all the weird things I saw around the neighborhood were normal. She said no, but probably to see her. Then it all clicked. My patient was also anxious, elevated heart rate, and elevated blood pressure, Steph living with her and not her mother. Steph was flushing DRUGS and not "sick". I immediately wrapped up my assessment, packed up my stuff, put my backpack on, and said good bye.
I walk out the door. As soon as I shut the door. I was grabbed by the back of my backpack and thrown down the stairs. A bold male voice screams "What did you do in there?" I am on my stomach on the ground with him mounted on my back. I screeched out " I am a physical therapist. I was evaluated a patient inside." He responded with "Stockton PD. What is in the bag?" I said blood pressure cuff, goniometer, pulse oximeter, thermometer, hand sanitizer, and therapy gear. He asked if he can search my bag. I said of course. Followed up with a bunch of questions of:
How long were you in there?
How many people were in there?
Did I buy anything?
I responded I was in there for 45 minutes, two people I think, and no. They stood me up and I looked around and they were surrounding the house. They searched my bag, found nothing "incriminating", and let me go. After checking my drivers license, company ID badge, and car registration they let me go.
I called the doctor and told them that I will not follow up with the patient and referred to a different agency. I did not want me or anyone I work with to be involved, at risk, or endangered at this house. Rough world when clinicians, PT, OT, ST, RN, MSW, or HHA going into homes that we do not know what may or may not happen. I am male and do not understand ALL the stress of being a female in these scenarios but I am sure they do not have the sense of confidence walking into a home that I do. Feel free to comment, email me with your stories because I think they are interesting and informative to me and other people in our field!