When I was a resident of internal medicine, I began to grow weary of the strain of caring for very sick hospitalized patients with whom I rarely was able to develop a relationship. I knew that I needed more. One month, I did an elective rotation with a geriatrician who practiced solely in the PALTC setting. I returned to my residency program re-energized and re-focused. I knew what I wanted to do with my life! Working in the PALTC setting allows me to use the clinical skills I developed throughout residency and fellowship training while at the same time developing deep and lasting relationships with patients, families, and staff. My young daughter will often accompany me to work and she once said, “I love this place! Can we stay and play?”
I’m currently the medical director of a small inner city facility that is the home to many people with limited social supports outside of our building. The activities director, who has been working here for over 20 years, put together a prom night that was a raging success. Nurse aides stayed late to help residents enjoy their evening and every staff member participated in some way to make sure it was a special event. One resident wore a gown that she made for herself many years ago. One resident with behavioral and psychological symptoms of dementia slept all night for the entire weekend following prom with no need for sedating medications (something which had not happened in many months). Another resident stood from her wheelchair and danced for the first time in years. When I told my 2-year old daughter that her favorite resident was crowned prom king the Friday before, she dubbed him King Friday and refused to leave his side.
We often hear the negative stories of PALTC but there is so much good that happens in facilities on a daily basis across our country and world. We need to celebrate the great people who dedicate their time and careers to improving their facilities. I hope that when other people see how meaningful our work in PALTC can be, they will join us in making PALTC the place to be.
Milta Little, DO, CMD