Saturday, August 29, 2009

Adventures in Babysitting

Sometimes, my patients just baffle me with their requests. Such was the case recently, when a pregnant young woman asked if she could be admitted to the hospital because, "All I have for food at home is peanut butter and Goldfish."

She was a young, newly-married Army wife, and the request made me look again at her ID which listed her age as 16. Her medical complaint was easy enough to deal with; both her and the fetus were fine. She hadn't gotten any prenatal care yet, as she said that she didn't have any insurance, which also made me do a double-take given her social situation.

I asked her where her husband was, and it turned out that he was off doing pre-deployment exercises in another state for the next several weeks. During their training, the men are unavailable by phone and the only number she had was his cell phone. I asked her if she had any money at home, and she said that she didn't. Apparently, her husband had taken their only credit card with him.

The more questions I asked, the worse it got.

I asked her who their unit chaplain was, and she didn't know. I asked her what unit her husband was in, and she didn't know. I asked her how she'd gotten to the hospital and it turned out that she had called an ambulance and that she didn't know anyone in the area to come and pick her up. And wouldn't you know it, her husband had left his vehicle behind, but she doesn't even know how to drive. The nurses were also muttering something about her not having any furniture in the apartment and sleeping on the floor, but at that point, I really didn't want to hear any more.

So Social Work got involved, and I ordered the woman/child a dinner tray. They actually contacted the runaway teen hotline because her whole story was kind of bizarre. Typically, the military does a very thorough job at providing resources for family members, particularly wives and children of active duty soldiers. This child just was completely clueless, and without any kind of foresight about providing for herself. In the end, the staff duty officer of the night had to come in and make sure she was set up with insurance, food, and resources. I'm sure that her husband got quite the talking to about the whole thing, but for all I know he's probably barely 18 himself. It was quite the contradiction to see someone with with access to nearly unlimited resources and not enough knowledge to use them. At this rate, I don't know how she's going to make it through the winter.


~~Silk said...

Al I can say is "Good Grief!" Thank you for asking the important question, why do you want to stay?

You Nanimous said...

That is incredibly sad. Social services will be absolutely critical in this case; I hope she utilizes every opportunity the state gives her.

Kate said...

I love my social workers, they are all such awesome individuals!