Kafka Was Here
I went to visit an elderly relative in an assisted living facility. Everyone who lives there is an elderly person with varying degrees of hearing, visual, physical and/or cognitive impairments. In other words, they generally are not safe to be on their own. Which is why they live in an assisted living facility.
Today was flu shot day. The residents were urgently rounded up at 12:45 p.m. and herded to the common dining room because “the people” (no – I never learned who they are) were there to give them their shots. The shots that had been scheduled to begin at 1 p.m.
Keep in mind that these are elderly, infirm people who don’t have time to waste (they don’t have much left) and should never be asked to urgently do anything.
I went with my relative and sat waiting with the group. The shot people didn’t come. At 1:05 I went searching for them.
I asked a staff member where they were. She told me they’d already finished.
I explained no, they hadn’t even started.
Then she told me they were on their way.
I returned to the dining room. They hadn’t arrived.
At 1:15, I heard the squeaky wheels of their cart rolling down the hall.
They began to process the residents.
Processing involved asking questions:
1. Have you ever had an anaphylactic reaction to latex?
2. Have you ever had an anaphylactic reaction to eggs and/or egg products?
3. Are you allergic to Thimerosal?
4. Are you exhibiting symptoms other than mild coughing, runny nose and/or diarrhea?
5. Do you have a history of Guillain-Barré Syndrome?
6. Have you ever had a serious reaction after receiving the influenza and/or pneumonia vaccine?
(for women) 7. Are you pregnant?
The shot people asked the questions with a straight face.
Did I mention that most of the residents can’t see, hear or remember a damn thing?
Answers: What? Huh? What’s that? What? What’s that? Huh? (pondering) I don’t think so.
Then came time to sign the consent form.
You need to sign here.
See that line?
The line right here where my finger is pointing.
No, I can’t see it.
Can you put your initials here?
You really can’t see that?
Did I mention some of them are legally blind?
Immediately after receiving a shot, each resident left the area.
The shot people watched them go.
In fine print at the bottom of the form which none of the residents could read: “I agree to remain in the general area for at least 15 minutes after receiving the vaccine.”