As many of you know, my husband, Frank, fell a week ago and broke his hip and leg.  He has been in the hospital since that time; and he may be transferred to a rehab hospital today.  However, the situation is fluid because of his health risks and because of other hospital related issues.

I have seen that if your child or loved one is in the hospital, it is essential for someone to be at the hospital at all times to serve as her health-care advocate.  Even though my husband is not mentally challenged, his vascular dementia demands that he have another person stay by his side to ensure that he receives the proper treatment.

As ministers within the mentally challenged community, you may need to help give parents or caregivers permission to stay at the hospital, if they feel it is necessary.  In the past, I’ve been all-but pushed from the hospital by the health-care professionals.  This hospital stay has been different.  We are in a private room and the staff has been more than accommodating to my need to stay and help with medical decisions. 

However, each new nurse must be educated to the fact that I’ve been his healthcare-giver for more than 10 years.  This entitles me to health information that they may not know, even though their have a better medical education and years in the field.  My sister who has been with us in the hospital for the past four days said, “It has to be frustrating to be you.  Each new shift brings a new nurse and a new CNA.  Several times a day, you need to educate them to the fact that you must be the one who is making the health-care decisions.”

While I know that my frustration is real, I question if it is justified.  Her assurance helped me.  In the same way, we can help family members and spouses to be bold in their advocacy for their loved ones.

As a counter point, many older parents are not able to be in the hospital or become the advocates for their children as they once were.  In this case, they must also be given permission to release their children into the hands of a loving God who help the needy and undertake for the weak.

It is never our position to make decisions.  However, giving permission helps to make advocates strong in their battle.  Nevertheless, it also allows those who are not able to be an advocate to release and be secure in that decision.