A strange patient.


My paternal grandparents


There can’t be anything more telling of old age when conversations focus on ‘sicknesses’ ‘food’ and the ‘cost of electricity.’ I plead guilty to all three of them so my age is showing. But I had a rather unusual experience yesterday in a Doctor’s waiting room. Actually, the term ‘Doctor’s waiting room’ is dated. We now go to ‘Medical Centres’. They are mainly owned by large corporations who employ PhD trained business experts  in maximising returns on investments. The sick and frail now have to travel to those centres. It is rare for the doctor to visit the patient at home.

I had an appointment at 7.45 am to a medical centre’s pathology facility for a thyroid blood test which I haven’t had for a long time. I was amazed how many were already at this centre. There is a waiting room with 27 chairs, all padded and soft-backed with arm-rests. On the floor in one corner it even had a small play- centre for kids. It had a doll’s house and a mini slippery-dip.

During my waiting, several mainly elderly patients shuffled inside, some struggling with walking frames or other mobility aids. One mother with a pram like a WW1 tank manoeuvred around a man who had to keep one leg straight out because it was all plastered up to his thigh.

When my number came up for the blood test, I got up but stopped at the desk as a man had just walked in to tell the receptionist his wife had sent him to see a doctor.

My wife wants me to see a doctor but I also need 10 Dollars. Can you give me 10 dollars, please, he said politely. The man was neatly dressed and possibly in his late sixties or even seventies. He wore black knee socks , shorts and gym shoes. I would never wear knee-socks let alone black ones, but this is a very English type village. A foreign language is hardly ever heard except in week-ends when we receive many tourists.

The receptionists, a youngish woman, told the man she would consult her superior. Yes, but could you please give me 10 dollars now, he said again. The receptionist now somewhat alarmed asked the man if he wanted to see a doctor. Yes, I do, he said, but could you please give me 10 dollar, I am so hungry! Well, just sit down and doctor will see you. At this stage the man walked to a chair and sat down.

I had my blood test done and as I walked out I saw the black knee-socked man still waiting. I don’t know what happened or if he got the 10 dollars. Maybe one of the patients or even the staff had given him some food. It was all rather strange. If his wife sent him to the doctor, could she not have given him breakfast? Why would a neatly dressed man go without food and go to a medical centre to beg for money?

I went bowling afterwards and told the story to the wife of one bowler. She said that many people do go hungry and that poverty in Australia is now widespread. She had a friend who volunteers and drives a van picking up bread and food from the local supermarkets to be distributed to the different agencies that feed the poor and hungry.

A recent ABC TV segment was about the abuse that many elderly suffer in old age care homes. Apparently between 4000 and 6000 elderly die well before their time each year in Australia through neglect in those Aged Care facilities. Many are owned and run by churches. Astonishingly, we were told that there are no qualification required to work in aged care. Most that died pre-maturely were murdered, suicided or just through lack of basic care while in expensive ‘Aged Care’.

What awaits us while shuffling forever onwards towards the promised Pearly Gates?

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34 Responses to “A strange patient.”

  1. Yvonne Says:

    I wonder what happened with that man. Perhaps he was suffering from dementia?

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Dorothea Jahnes-Oosterman Says:

    Hi Gerard……..Aged care facilities have to comply with the law that all ‘care staff’ have to obtain Community Service Certificate lll in Aged Care. Staff are also required to have Police clearance.
    This has been the rule for at least 10 years in Queensland.Without this requirement facilities could not hold a licence to operate. Untrained staff in Aged Care facilities has long gone thank god.

    Liked by 2 people

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Yes Dorothea, but many of those colleges ‘sell’ the certificates which can be obtained ‘on-line’ in as little as six weeks. Unlike nurses, aged care workers do not need to have any work experience before entering the work force.

      “care homes are hiring staff who can’t speak English or read medication charts because training colleges are selling quickie qualifications.

      Worried providers are facing a hiring crisis due to the poor training, with some workers who get a Certificate III qualification online in just six weeks not even having the most basic of skills, such as showering people.”

      Liked by 1 person

  3. gerard oosterman Says:

    My statement that No Requirements are required is not right. A certificate III is required.
    The industry itself complain that many that enter the workforce have no practical skills.


  4. pethan35 Says:

    Very descriptive of what is happening in those medical centres. I rather like those modern centres. They are spacious like an airport lounge.

    There was a story on the German news that male nurse murdered at least 200, possibly even 300, people. The nursing homes past him on to other homes, just like the churches, instead of notifying the police.

    Who needs euthanasia if you can be murdered?

    Liked by 1 person

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Yes, but if one needs a doctor because of sickness, a home visit might be a better option. Are there still doctors doing home visits?

      Yes, Peter. I read the story of the murdering nurse in Germany.

      It’s all so dangerous now. You go to a hospital and a kind nurse tucks you into bed, and says ‘guten Nacht’, next you get murdered by a nurse.


  5. jennypellett Says:

    Sounds just like the waiting rooms here in the UK. I tend to agree with Yvonne, above. I think the poor man was probably suffering from dementia.

    Liked by 2 people

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      How are the waiting rooms in the UK, Jenny?

      This year I have been a couple of times. I enjoy the waiting room ambience with the added benefit of realising that all of us at some stage need the care of a specialist carer.

      There are many pamphlets to read and then there is the aquarium with some fish just aimlessly swimming about an underwater castle.

      Liked by 1 person

      • jennypellett Says:

        I’m thankful that I haven’t visited a doctor’s waiting room in ages, other than to pick up a prescription for Son’s hay fever. There wasn’t a fish tank, just a life size rubber rat on the window sill. One of the doctors idea of a joke.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. DisandDat Says:

    How true Gerard. We too go to a “centre” with podiatrist, dentist, hearing loss service and chiropractor. It all smells of profit being the priority. Our Gp though has a “bulk bill” policy for pensioners that have the health card.

    Liked by 1 person

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Yes, the bulk billing centres are very quick and the doctor just taps away at the computer and says goodbye while the patient is still telling his woes and painful tribulations.
      I haven’t yet reached the stage of a podiatrist, but I’ll keep you informed.


  7. Dorothy Brett Says:

    One reason pathology places are busy early in the morning is because a lot of blood tests are only taken after fasting for twelve or so hours.


    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Yes, I know Dorothy. I was early and very hungry afterwards but as yet haven’t felt like asking for 10 dollars.
      The pathologist asked me to avoid strenuous vacuuming after giving me a little plaster to cover the needle prick..

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Andrew Says:

    Going into a care home is one of my greatest fears. I suspect it is a lottery whether you get good care or not. When Mrs H was away recently I lived on Waitrose fresh pasta for 12 days. I think I am no longer capable of looking after myself. I am determined to put off the evil day as long as possible. I would have given the man $10. Why not? Whether he was hungry or ill it would have helped him. A small gesture.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. gerard oosterman Says:

    It depends on the ‘care-home’, Andrew.

    There has been some real horror stories on the TV. Lots of the old have savings ferreted away for the retirement but when that arrives, many are waiting to get hold of it.

    I hope one of my last faculties to leave me will be my well honed sense of qui vive and alertness when it comes to those who might think Gerard is an easy prey to plunder while in his final dotage…

    You are right about the 10 dollars. Perhaps the Medical centre did oblige and gave the man some money. God, knows he might have been on a fast while waiting for his blood test!


  10. shoreacres Says:

    I found myself wondering if the man’s wife even existed — at least, at this point. He may have been remembering a spouse now gone: which makes the story even more sad. I’m also wondering how he managed to get himself to the center — so many questions!

    Every time I read one of these posts, I resolve all over again to keep myself out of one of those “homes.” I’d better get cracking, if I want to whomp myself into shape. Time’s running out!

    Liked by 2 people

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      The man was well dressed and polite, yet firm on his demand for 10 dollars. Some of the Medical centres do have notices that ‘no cash’ is held on the premises. Patients unknown to the doctors cannot obtain prescription drugs that have addictive substances. However, the patients who are most likely to be addicted to painkillers are not the young but mainly the middle aged or elderly.

      The Government is very active in trying to make the elderly stay at their own home as long as possible. There are subsidised transport, cleaning and hot meals available.

      I am tempted to get the house cleaned and am not as fond of vacuum cleaning as I used to, even though I now have a Hoover named ‘Freedom’ in my possession. I believe there is a verb; To Hoover!


  11. leggypeggy Says:

    I have mixed views on this one. My husband’s aunt lived with us for eight years before going into aged care for the demented. Her care was top notch. Several times a month, I volunteer at another home in Canberra, and am always impressed by the care and compassion shown there. One of my neighbours was a matron in a nursing home in Far North Queensland. The families of her residents loved her so much they would do fund-raisers to buy things the home needed. I’m sure there are shoddy homes, but thought it fair to report there are good ones too.

    As for the fellow in the medical centre, I’m guessing there was some dementia. A hungry person could have asked for food instead of money, but he focused only on the money.

    Liked by 1 person

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Yes, Peggy. I am sure the good ones are here as well. Perhaps they don’t get the attention they deserve.

      My own opinion is coloured by the experience of my older brother Frank. He was diagnosed as suffering from chronic and severe schizophrenia a long time ago.

      He had a terrible time and it was only after he was repatriated to The Netherlands in 1974 from Australia that he received the care he deserved. As it is, he died last Friday night at the age of 78 at his care-home.

      You are right, the fellow could have asked for food instead of money. I noticed that the receptionist had a banana and a wrapped sandwich behind the counter, but did she have the presence of mind to give it to him?

      Liked by 2 people

  12. doesitevenmatter3 Says:

    So true, Gerard. This is such an important subject.

    Senior adults are our most valuable resource…and yet most countries do not know how to care for them lovingly and properly. It makes me sad. I don’t understand it, because all of the younger people who are in the medical fields, etc., must think about the fact that one day they will be older and in need of compassion and good care. Well, I don’t know, but I would hope they think about that.

    As for those who are suffering with dementia and Alzheimers, I always think, “We should never forget those who are forgetting. 😦 Yet, most people don’t want to be bothered with them. 😦

    Liked by 1 person

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      The rapid rise of people over 65 has surprised even the experts. Many countries’ revenue income is not covering the cost of adequate aged care and Australia is forever catching up.

      The question should be put on why not enough revenue is coming in. Lowering taxation together with large corporations going offshore to tax havens makes funding of aged care, pensions, education, health-care, social welfare very difficult.

      Everything is privatised and given over to ‘market forces’.
      (((Hugs too .))) At least they are still free!

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Forestwoodfolk Says:

    What a curious thing to ask for? Perhaps he and his wife were homeless and this was a frequent practice. Just to put my two cents worth in, I have worked in aged care ( and was very qualified to do so, a degree, diploma and certs), and some centres offer excellent care. The ones that are bad, seem, surprisingly, to be some of the private facilities!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      We will never know what happened. He might well have been given the 10 dollars or some food.
      The complaints in Australia do indeed involve the privately run ones, run by churches or large institutions.
      My parents left Australia when they retired and ended the days in very good care. But, the Dutch pay high taxation and have a social security tax on top of an income tax.


  14. petspeopleandlife Says:

    Nursing homes are the pits and it is hell to be old. If one is lucky they can afford a higher grade nursing home but even then the aides might not give the best care sometimes.

    Liked by 1 person

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      I am surprised to hear that aged care is graded. Should not all aged care be good? I must live in cuckoo land but I would be surprised if aged care has different grading in The Netherlands.

      Liked by 1 person

      • petspeopleandlife Says:

        Well yes nursing homes are graded and my sister’s home is understaffed. I want to move her when I find a better one. The Netherlands is rare and sounds like a wonderful place to live. It is a rare country and it is too bad that other counties do not model to Holland’s example.


      • gerard oosterman Says:

        Yes, but paying tax is not merely so reviled in Holland as in the US. Nothing is free and the idea that paying less tax is good for the country does not work.


  15. kaytisweetlandrasmussen83 Says:

    I had a rude awakening last year when I had a vein implant, after which they sent me to a nursing home. I believe I wrote about it. People calling for help all night for one thing or another. The nursing was top notch, but the surroundings not so much. I was very glad to get home with a promise never to go again.
    Old age is not fun or easy as we all discover, but if we are lucky enough to achieve it, it’s best to take note of what we can still do. Preparing early is a good thing, because we know it is coming. The list of services old people need besides health care is staggering if you want to continue living in your own home. You need to get food, get to doctors, etc. How do you do that? Uber, public transit, taxi? Unless you can keep your house clean, you need someone to do it. Most stores carry convenient dinners, etc which don’t take cooking. I have a 95 year old friend who has discovered all sorts of quick ways to feed herself as she remains living alone in her home. As you can see I have done a bit of research on these things since we hit the 90 year old mark!
    As far as what you are still able to do by yourself, I have taken the attitude of trying to remember what still works instead of remembering how good we used to be.


    • gerard oosterman Says:

      I remember your vein implant, Kayti. The patients calling for nurses at all times of the night came flooding back. I laughed then and am doing so again, sorry, but I so enjoy your droll descriptions. Marvellous writing, Kayti.

      There is so much to prepare for in wanting to stay at home. Helvi reckons I should brush up on my wiping skills and snoops around areas on which some dust dared to settle itself. And we are only in our late seventies! She reckons blaming Milo won’t do anymore and I should spend more time upright instead of reclining semi-horizontally.

      How will I ever reach your level of independence and continuing creativity?


  16. Giovanni Carlo Says:

    Maybe he just forget his wallet and Why is the receptionist did not give the $10 dollar maybe that old man is God Matthew 25:35-4035 for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; 36 I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.’

    37 “Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? 38 When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? 39 Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ 40 And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’


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