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A strange, unknown visitor leaves resident asking questions

September 19, 2011
by Kathleen Mears
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One evening a few weeks ago, I was in bed watching television when an afternoon shift aide brought a middle-aged woman clutching a store bag into my room. The woman looked at me intently and said, “Kathleen Means … Kathleen Murrs? Don't you remember me?” I could not believe this woman seemed to know me when I did not recognize her.

I felt uneasy and was careful not to identify myself to her. Because I was rattled, I did not think to ask her name and why she was visiting. All I could think of was getting her out of my room as soon as possible.

When the aide noticed my discomfort, she escorted the woman out of my room. A few minutes later my nurse came back to ask if I knew the woman. I assured her that I had gone back 30 years in my mind and had no idea who she was.

Later, when I told my former roommate about the woman's visit, she said the woman comes to the facility and asks for change. I found her comment to be a bit unsettling.

My sister was surprised to hear about the visitor. She made a point to tell a day shift aide how alarmed she was by the situation. I also told the assistant director of nursing about it.

Both my sister and I wondered what criteria the staff uses when they let someone into a locked facility. Since visitors identify themselves and give their reason for visiting, we felt that was good enough policy for visitors in general.

A day or two later the assistant director of nursing told me that the same woman had come to the facility several times previously asking for me. I asked that if she comes again, have the staff record her name and reason for visiting me.

Though the above scenario may sound innocuous, it made me very uncomfortable. I seldom get visitors in the evening and when I do I generally know about it in advance and inform the aides.

It was worrying to have an unknown person get into my room. But I was grateful the aide had enough foresight to come along with her.

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Kathleen Mears

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Kathleen Mears has been a nursing home resident in Ohio for 20 years. She is an incomplete...