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Rondi Mitchell, RN, Michelle Davis, RN, and Sarah Jemley, RN, from left, are Transition Care Managers with MultiCare Health System.
Self-described 'obnoxious old man' finds a nurse who cares
After years of poor health and revolving doors, Jim Parkinson meets a team he trusts
Jim Parkinson describes himself as an “old beat-up, broken-down truck driver.”
“I’ve got too many ailments: liver problems, kidney failure, diabetes, heart failure -- everything is attacking me all at one time,” said Parkinson, a 73-year-old who used to drive more than 165,000 miles a year in his job as a large-car trucker.
Parkinson said he’s had five heart attacks, at least one stroke, and poor health that he attributes to complications of diabetes and not taking medication for any of his ailments.
In addition to his physical maladies, Parkinson has an antagonistic approach to new people, especially those who try to tell him what to do.
To put it mildly, he doesn’t get along with most doctors or nurses.
“I had a really bad attitude, especially before my stroke,” Parkinson said. “I was intolerable -- an obnoxious old man who didn’t like anybody and nobody liked him. I’m the type of guy who has always done what I wanted. I couldn’t ever get a doctor to take care of me. As a result, I had no Medicare, no nothing.”
When he wasn’t being kicked out of medical offices, he often walked out himself.
“One time I pulled out my catheter,” Parkinson said. “I’ll walk down the street buck naked if I have to. I don’t care, I’m leaving.”
After years without health care, his body deteriorated. Complications grew worse. Symptoms left him debilitated, and he ended up in a bed at MultiCare Good Samaritan Hospital.
Enter Rondi Mitchell, RN, case manager with MultiCare Good Samaritan Hospital’s Community Care Transition Team.
Rondi and her team members work with patients as they transition from the hospital to their home. For example, after patients are discharged, the team will visit them at home to make sure they understand how to take their prescribed medications, or the team will make sure the patient has transportation for follow-up appointments. Often these are older people who don’t have family who can help them take care of themselves.
Nationwide, about one out of five Medicare patients returns to the hospital within a month after being discharged. Those readmissions are often preventable.
Basically, Rondi listens. Then she attempts to clear any obstacles that are preventing the person from following the treatment plan at home.
Parkinson remembers his first meeting with Mitchell.
“She said, ‘I think I can help you.’” Parkinson recalled. “I said, ‘Goddamn, that would be a first.’ Rondi smiled. She said, ‘I see you’re kind of ornery.’ I told her I’m just old and beat up and don’t feel good. She said you’ve got some serious problems that need taken care of, and I think I have a doctor who is just as ornery as you are.”
Mitchell persuaded Parkinson to visit Dr. Charles Jacobson. She went to the appointment with him.
“Dr. Jacobson looked at me kind of funny and said, “Am I going to be able to help you?’ I said, ‘You’re supposed to be a doctor, but you don’t look like one.’ Well, my feet were swelled up as big as my body. Dr. Jacobson walks over and he very gently puts his hand on my ankle, then he starts squeezing and smiling at me. When he got to the point where I told him to quit doing that, he said, ‘Do I have your undivided attention?’
“Dr. Jacobson is as ornery and contrary as I am. He always said I was like an old Model-T: a piece of bailing wire here and there, and he can keep me running. Meeting Rondi Mitchell and Dr. Jacobson was a lifesaving and a life-changing event. I’m a totally different person today than I was a couple of years ago.”
In 2011, Mitchell was honored with a Daisy Award for providing outstanding health care.
“The respect she shows the patients is awe inspiring,” said her award nomination. “She is their mother, advocate, caregiver and often the only person who cares enough about them to call in the evening when it is quiet and they are alone and afraid.”
Parkinson said that was his experience with Mitchell.
“Rondi took care of me way above and beyond the call of duty, and I still call her and still talk to her because I love her dearly,” Parkinson said. “Rondi would come to my house, and explain what’s going on, what’s happening. I absolutely think the world of Rondi Mitchell.
“I made so many nurses upset with me. Rondi never got upset with me. She tried to help me in the worst way, and she did. How she can do it is absolutely beyond my comprehension, because I don’t understand people who have that ability. Being around the people who take care of you, who took care of the dying, they’re angels of mercy.
“I call Rondi my angel. If anybody has a pair of wings, she does.”
Posted on Aug 29, 2013 in East Pierce County