Do It Myself Blog – Glenda Watson Hyatt

Motivational Speaker

My Response to Nurse Ratchet

Filed under: Advocacy,Living with a disability — by at 2:37 pm on Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Dear East 31 Unit Manager,

On Monday, my husband was discharged from the East 31 Medicine/Neurology Unit after a two-week hospital stay for pneumonia. For the most part, he received good care, for which I am grateful. However, one incident was very upsetting.

Both my husband and I have cerebral palsy and use power wheelchairs for mobility. Yet, we live independently, without any attendant care. We have done a fair bit of traveling without any companions. We work well together as a team, as a married couple, to problem solve and overcome any obstacles.

Saturday afternoon, once his nurse had supervised his safe transfer into his power chair, we mentioned to her that we were going down to the cafeteria for a drink and for a change of scenery. She flipped! She said my husband, who turned 50 today, couldn’t leave the floor without a relative. My husband explained that I am his wife. The nurse told him to wait for his parents, who are elderly. She continued that we would have to take the elevator and that, if something happened, I was “incapable”.

Incapable of using the elevator? Incapable of helping my husband or of summoning help, if needed, in a hospital? The nurse knew nothing about me except that I use a power wheelchair/scooter and that she could not understand my speech. She knew nothing about my capabilities. Labelling me as incapable was not only demeaning and insulting, and dismissed my role as wife; her firm comment was also discriminatory.

Not wanting my husband to experience any reprisal from the nursing staff, we were good disabled people and begrudgingly stayed within bounds.

If the nurse’s comments reflect the unit’s policy, this archaic policy regarding people with disabilities needs reviewing. After all, this is 2009, not 1909!

Thank you for your attention in this matter so that another spouse with a disability is not dismissed in the future.

Glenda Watson Hyatt

If you enjoyed this post, consider buying me a chai tea latte. Thanks kindly.

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Comment by Kimm

September 2, 2009 @ 3:00 pm

Wow! The nerve of some people. I think you should also send a letter to that mangers boss and all the way up the chain.

Comment by Glenda

September 2, 2009 @ 3:12 pm

Thanks Kimm, I am working on getting a few more names and contact information. The Surrey Memorial Hospital website doesn’t provide that information. I wonder why! 😉

Comment by rebeccahappy

September 2, 2009 @ 3:46 pm

This totally sucks Glenda…call for a march on the hospital. i am sure you would get a good turn out.


Comment by Emma

September 2, 2009 @ 5:13 pm

very eloquent. Perfect.
I hope you get a good response, i.e. that they take on board what you have told them and then act on that information. Do the right thing, in fact !

Comment by Karen Putz

September 3, 2009 @ 6:17 am

Glenda, this riles me up! I hope you’ll write a formal letter to the hospital administrator and request that some training be set up for the staff. I hope you can make sure this doesn’t happen again should either of you need their services again.

Comment by Jody Maley

September 3, 2009 @ 10:03 am

Thanks Glenda for such an eye-opening post!

My mother-in-law uses a scooter and is 82 yrs old, she may have limited use with her legs but even at her age she is quick-witted and loves to sing songs for people (usually in the bank waiting line ha ha).
I feel for you and am totally inspired by your posts…you are a smart and intelligent lady and I am honored to be introduced to you!
I live in 100 Mile House but if I was closer you can bet I’d be down at the hospital with your post printed off and in hand!!!
My best advice to you is “Be inspired” right now I know ‘anger’ and ‘injustice’ are nipping at the door….I’m encouraging “Inspired Action”!
What can we do to help you & serve you today!
Jody :))

Comment by Glenda

September 3, 2009 @ 5:37 pm

Thanks folks your encouraging support! I may have let the incident go if it hadn’t been for you all — but, maybe not! 😉

Brief update: This morning I sent the above letter to the unit manager and the patient care quality officer. The unit manager responded, in part, with “I want to assure you that I will be following up with an investigation of this incident. I will reply to you by email as soon as that investigation is completed.” We’ll see what happens!

Karen, I was thinking about your Steak n Shake incident and can now appreciate how it took on a life of its own!

Comment by Chris Garrett

September 4, 2009 @ 3:08 am

I am glad you got someone to look into this, let’s hope the person in question gets a swift “attitude adjustment”

Comment by David Miller

September 4, 2009 @ 4:24 pm


First, I am thankful that your husband is better. Unfortunately, there are people in the medical profession like your nurse who can’t (or won’t)see the person behind the condition. Fortunately, if I saw correctly, you already have the attention of the patient care advocate. In many cases this will correct the situation. If it doesn’t, do you have any contacts in the media who might be interested in a disability-awareness story? Think about it.

Keep up the good work-

Comment by Louise

September 6, 2009 @ 12:15 pm

I was horrified appalled angry saddened etc at what happened to you and your husband. Glad you contacted the hospital – sounds like the nurse needs training urgently. You may also need to remind the hospital to put contact details on their website.

Look forward to hearing the outcome.

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