Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Bad Address

Some times a bad address can come with a story.

Tonight it was a late drug run, coming out of a pharmacy that meant the recipient had hospice status. The good part, for me, is the destination was (rural) Chisago City, practically home. Better, in this season, I'd be able to locate the address before it got dark.

Pulling into the driveway, I noted a little bit of light in the kitchen window. The doorbell, however, brought no response, even after three rings. This could be a problem. The originating pharmacy closes at 7, and it was already a minute past when I left the car. (I hadn't checked the clock, but the theme music for the next program was playing on the radio as I shut it off.) We couldn't call them to find out whether it could be left in the door (usually not with meds), or needed to be returned. The latter meant a trip back into St. Paul. Tonight. Ick. In addition, our main dispatch was now closed, and though we had late dispatching options, things became more challenging.

While I'm standing at the top of the steps debating my options and reaching in my pocket for my phone, I finally hear noises near the door, then the bolt being drawn back. A cheerful, inquiring face greets me. I explain that I've meds for _________, which changes her expression to confusion. He isn't there. She had him - her husband - put in the nursing home on Sunday, the _______ home in Forest Lake.

Yes, I know the one. I've delivered meds there on several occasions.

She inquired what kind of meds I might be delivering? The real, unasked, question was just how urgent they were. I explained HIPPA rules while I showed her the mostly blank sealed tamper-proof white plastic envelope. Its only markings were an address label, with a Forest lake address crossed out and this one hand-written next to it. A closer look at the address made it recognizable as that of the nursing home where he now resided, though I double-checked that it was indeed where he now was.

Before I could even think to ask, she requested if I could take it there for her. Weather was expected momentarily, including both rain and sleet, and she didn't think she could safely make it there. No problem for me, with all the driving in the stuff I'd done as recently as this morning. And it was still dry. Plus I knew I could get approval and payment for the trip, as the sending pharmacy had made the screw-up by second guessing their address, wrongly. If the meds were necessary, they were needed where the patient was. And whatever they were, they were necessary.

At this point she apologized for taking so long to answer the door. She'd fallen asleep at the kitchen table over supper. She'd been the only one taking care of her 80-year-old husband until last Sunday, when she'd finally had to put him in the home, and she was still recovering her energy and strength. She would be 80 herself next month. I chatted briefly with her explaining why I know how tiring a job she'd had, and assuring her again it was not problem for me to wait for her to answer the door, before excusing myself to call dispatch, get the formal OK, and go deliver the meds to the nursing home.

I now had not just a new leg of the journey, but a piece of their story. Usually it's just a faceless name and an address. This delivery I will remember.

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