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“Ready Bag” for Hospital – And Other Necessities

Well before the onslaught of SARS COVID-19, I was working on a hospital “kit” to accompany a person who needs to be hospitalized. Some of the items had explanations attached.

For example, as part of the kit, I recommended a box of sanitizing wipes and Purell hand gel. This seems quaint these days. These once widely available products are worth their weight in gold now. And the awareness of transmitting a deadly disease through the spread of invisible organisms has skyrocketed. But it wasn’t always so. It’s not just nostalgic; it’s still important to remember that the coronavirus is not the only source of infection.

Here's the note to go with these kit items:

Sanitizing wipes and Purell: Keep these in a prominent place so people will see them.

PROTECT YOURSELF

Hospital-caused infections are a major killer—and a major cause of suffering and extended hospital stays. Most infections are the result of the spreading of “germs” from patient to patient on the hands of physicians, nurses, and other hospital workers, as well as to each other.

What will increase the chance that our care will be better and that we will not fall victim to all-too-many hospital-acquired infections?  There is no question --based on innumerable studies – that the best way to reduce this problem is very low-tech: the people who touch you in the hospital just need to wash their hands. Although this has been known for 150 years, hospital workers simply don’t always follow the basic rules of hygiene. Most healthcare workers understand the importance of hand washing but just don’t consistently do it. Often, they aren’t even aware of how inconsistent they are.

Ask every healthcare worker (including doctors) and visitor to wash his or her hands before touching you, your food, your medications, or equipment that will come into contact with you. Some hospitals instruct patients at admission to ask every healthcare worker to wash his or her hands. But many hospitals don’t take this approach. You need to do it yourself.    Studies have found that one of the most effective ways—better than training programs or rewards and punishments—to get healthcare workers to wash their hands is for patients to ask them to do so.

Yes, this is a matter of life and death – and you need to push back against any aversion you might have to feeling rude or pushy.  Be polite, but not passive. You can simply explain that you are following the suggestion of an article you read.

Reminders breed consciousness of patient safety measures. Simply understanding that it is acceptable and possibly life-saving to ask that everyone who enters a patient's room wash or use hand sanitizers to clean their hands can also lead to other pro-active and helpful actions.

Here is a Sign to bring with you:

“To all who come to care for or visit me – medical staff or friends and family – please wash your hands on entering and when you leave my room.” 

Keep in mind, this was written well before COVID-19 made its presence known. And it will apply long after its threat is mitigated. It will always be important for us all to observe careful hand hygiene. As the virus has made emphatic, we transmit illnesses to each other on a daily basis in any setting.

While we can no longer make these items available, there are other important (or just nice to have) items that we can have ready to go if hospitalization becomes necessary.

Put these in a bag (clearly labeled with a luggage tag) ready to go just in case. Visitors may not be allowed, so it’s especially important to have these things ready.

1. List of emergency contacts and phone numbers on paper.  This is crucial in case the patient is unconscious and phone is locked or battery ran out.

2. List of medications: name, dose, frequency. (Include initials after name of medication such as: XL, IR, ER, SR. These refer to how the drugs are formulated to be released into the blood stream.) Make sure the list is up to date.

3. List of emergency contacts and phone numbers on paper.  This is crucial in case the patient is unconscious and phone is locked or battery ran out.

4. Primary Care Doctor. Full name, phone number, and office address. 

5. A notepad with your name and phone number written on it and a couple of pens.

6. Cell phone charger - You could be in the emergency room for 6 to 48 hours!

7. Toothbrush and hair brush.

8. Extra underwear. (Depending on the condition of the patient)

9. Book / something to read.

10. Copies of legal paperwork such as Advance Health Care Directive, or POLST, if applicable. Copies of these, as well as emergency contact information should also be attached to the refrigerator. EMTs will check there.

11. CPAP machine information

12. If patient has a pacemaker or defibrillator: a copy of the pocket information card that states the brand, model number, and MRI compatibility.

13. If the patient has asthma or COPD, bring the inhalers.

14. Extra batteries for hearing aid or other medical devices.

15. Photographs of loved ones.

The medication list and Advance Directive should be placed in a large zip-lock bag. While the COVID-19 pandemic heightens our awareness of the need to be prepared, this advice is good at all times for all with underlying illnesses or who over 60 are.

Bay Area Estate Planning Lawyers Host Estate Planning Webinar to Ensure Families Are Covered in the Wake of the COVID-19 Pandemic

For many Californians, the COVID-19 pandemic was completely unexpected. As of early May, there have been over 50,000 cases of the coronavirus in California, and more than 2,000 people have lost their lives due to the virus. The impact COVID-19 as had on the country cannot be overstated. One of the most important things the crisis has brought to light is the significance of having a California estate plan in place to ensure that family members are legally covered in the event of the unthinkable.

According to a recent study, only four in ten adults have a will or an estate plan. The vast majority of those who have estate plans are over the age of 72. Largely, the reason why so few millennials do not have an estate plan the perceived lack of need. However, given the unpredictabilities of life, estate plans are important for any group, as the recent events have shown.

Coming up next week on Thursday, two prominent California estate planning attorneys from the law firm, Gilfix & La Poll Associates, LLP, are conducting a webinar in conjunction with the Stanford Club of San Francisco. Attorneys Michael Gilfix and Mark Gilfix will be hosting the webinar, and plan to cover the basics of California estate planning, including:

  • The three key documents that everyone needs as a part of their estate plan;
  • The most important decisions that must be made; and
  • The steps everyone must take to establish and update these crucial estate planning documents.

The Gilfix & La Poll attorneys understand that planning for long-term care and discussing end-of-life decisions with family members may seem overwhelming. However, they will discuss several approaches to bringing up these issues in an understandable and entertaining way. Along those lines, attendees are encouraged to watch the webinar with their parents and adult children to begin “The Conversation.”

Information regarding the upcoming webinar can be found below:

Legal Planning for a Crisis — Making Sure You and Your Family Are Covered

This webinar is the first in the three-part series. The next events in this series are:

Medical Decision Making and Patient Advocacy in a Crisis: Being Prepared

  • Thursday, May 14, 3:00 – 4:00 p.m.

Multi-Generational Planning for Quality Long Term Care

  • Thursday, May 21, 3:00 - 4:00 p.m.

Please note that a separate registration is required for each session.

Schedule a Consultation With a Dedicated California Special Needs Planning Lawyer

If you do not have a California estate plan, or its been years since your estate plan was updated, contact the dedicated attorneys at Gilfix & La Poll Associates, LLP. At our Palo Alto estate planning law firm, we help our clients plan for their families’ financial future. Since 1983, we have been handling all types of estate and tax law matters, and pioneered the area of law now known as elder law. We believe in multigenerational planning, because the decisions you make today affect not just you, but those who are dependent upon you. At Gilfix & La Poll, we promise to be your “Lawyer for Life.” To learn more, and to schedule a consultation with one of our skilled attorneys, call 650-493-070 in the Silicon Valley area, or toll-free at 800-244-9424.