Day Seven: Starting Over
It will be very hard to put into a few words what Nathaniel's eighteen day stay at Ranken Jordan Pediatric Bridge Hospital meant to our family. The hospital specializes in moving medically complex children from acute care hospitalizations to home - a bridge. Everything about our experience from the moment we walked through the door was geared toward getting Nathaniel ready for home and making sure home was ready for Nathaniel.
The hospital staff helped us set three discharge goals: two primary caregivers trained in providing Nathaniel's care independently of one another, Nathaniel's airway evaluated and stabilized, private duty nursing identified to staff the case at home.
First goal: Rich and I needed further training. We had learned the hard way that private duty nursing is sometimes unreliable and that we had to become the experts in Nathaniel's care. We weren't. Ranken Jordan would change that.
We were given a long checklist of care responsibilities that we had to demonstrate proficiency in prior to being responsible for Nathaniel even at the hospital. For example, one of the first requirements was to pass a CPR class for children with tracheotomies before we could take Nathaniel away from the clinical area. This training, like so much of our experience at Ranken, was healing as we processed through our first night crises and gained confidence in handling future emergencies.
Ranken Jordan taught us about outbound care where patients are expected to leave the nursery and bedroom areas of the hospital to participate in real life that takes place in the gyms, playgrounds, kitchens, music rooms, school rooms, and outdoor areas all set up for therapeutic play and work. Once we passed our CPR class, we used the facility like we would our home. If our family needed a quiet corner with low lighting to snuggle, staff placed mats in the Life Gym and gave us space. If we needed to eat dinner together, there was a table available near the indoor playground and we moved Nathaniel there to join us. By "living" in these spaces together daily, we started to get a feel for how we were going to live with Nathaniel at home.
The time at Ranken Jordan was not stress free. We put in sixteen hour days and had a long traffic filled commute both ways since parents were encouraged to not stay over night, but to go home and rest. If you read Day Six, rest assured, I did find the hospital. I text a friend who provided directions from hospital parking garage to hospital parking lot and brought us a hot meal two hours later. Just one of the many ways God cared for us through the early weeks of becoming Nathaniel's forever family.