“I knew very little about her …”

January 13, 2015 § 2 Comments

By Evelyne Malfroy-Carmine, NP, Commonwealth Community Care

In the post below, Evelyne Malfroy-Carmine, a nurse practitioner from Commonwealth Community Care, describes her experiences with a woman in the Commonwealth Care Alliance Senior Care Options program. Although the woman passed away soon after they began working together, Evelyne shows how trust and caring can make an enormous difference in a member’s life – and how much our members can mean to us.

I knew very little about her. She was referred to our program by a friend she had been staying with in a studio apartment in the weeks before we met. Having received no care for years, she was effectively locked out of the medical care system.

Her life was devoid of security and stability and she had been living precariously for years. Sometimes in shelters, sometimes looking after empty houses. “I had once a house on the ocean shore and was not so poor,” she said.

She had lost her job, gotten divorced and had experienced a rapid decline in her health. She was scared and ashamed of her failing body.

She has only been hospitalized once, at the birth of her daughter, she said.

We met twice, the first time at the request of her friend, a long-time patient of ours. I worked to establish her trust. She mentioned what was bothering her but would not go to urgent care.

She decided to enroll in our SCO/WOM program and called me one morning a week later and told me that she had been feeling sick and had vomited. When I got to the apartment she was in too much pain to even stand. After I did a brief assessment, she accepted a 911 call to the nearest ED.

I got to know her better during the twenty minutes we spent together waiting for the paramedics. She loved her cat and was concerned to leave her behind, and she was worried about her appearance. We talked and cracked a few jokes and then it was time to part.

Once admitted she was found to have a terminal disease that could not be treated, but a preventable one that could have been cured if caught in time. She passed away less than thirty hours later, her daughter and ex-husband at her side, fulfilling the premonition she had shared with me that this would be her last Christmas. Her death was fast and hopefully as comfortable as possible.

Her best friend, her beautiful cat, has found a new home.

The only relief after this tragedy, even though I know there are more women out there who are also too scared to get help, is that she got good care and was at peace with her family at the end.

She was only 67 years old and she could have died in the streets of Boston.

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