Wednesday, September 29, 2010

On Being an Injured Hospice Case Manager

I injured my back a few weeks ago and was told by Occupational Health that I should not be lifting more than 10 pounds until my injury heals. As nurses, we cannot work if we cannot lift or turn a 250 pound person. So... I have had to take time off work. This has been more difficult for me since I've been working as a Hospice Nurse Case Manager. When I worked on the floors in the hospital, I could always be assured that my patients would be seen even if I was out sick, because they weren't really even "my" patients to begin with. But as a Nurse Case Manager, I do, in fact, have my own patients. Of course, there are revisit nurses who see my patients when I am unable to. So I've been listening to my voicemail, even though I'm not technically working, and leaving voicemail messages with my supervisor to request visits for people based on what I'm hearing in my messages. But it's very difficult to feel so out of touch with the patients and families on my caseload.

I spoke to the company who is managing my disability payments while I am off of work. (It is so hard to even think of myself as "disabled," when I have a temporary injury to my back, but that's what they call me.) I asked about calling my patients while I'm off work and they essentially told me that would be in violation of my disability. I *want* to call my patients and their families, but then I'd need to chart those phone calls so the nurses following my patients would know what's going on. But then, ironically, I run the risk of not getting paid. *sigh* Something is wrong with a system that penalizes you for working to whatever extent you are able.

Fortunately, I go back to Occupational Health on Friday and expect they will release me to return to work. Cross your fingers for me!