Published: Mar 2, 2021
The electronic medical record has taken over the healthcare system – for better or worse – and is a predominant feature of most physicians day. What some may not realize is that in the Nursing Home word the paper chart still predominates. Due to the high cost of EMRs and difficulty with transitions it can be a large hurdle to switch over to a totally electronic system. Paper charts remain as a relic, but also a physical testament to someones medical history. Many look back fondly on the days of the paper chart and today they did strike me.
As I passed through the nursing station as I do on many days I glanced over at the shelf holding up the dozens of binders. Each containing the complete record and information of a patients medical care. Today as I passed these struck me differently. I looked a little longer perhaps and noticed what was missing. On this particular floor – the hardest hit – the binders which used to each bear the name of a person sat blank. They sit empty now as we cross onto the other side of the COVID outbreak here locally that has also taken thousands of older adults from nursing homes across the country. Though isolated and often separate from much of the community these were people who lived in these walls: grandparents, sisters, brothers, wives, children of others.
So, even as there is hope with the vaccine, the empty rooms, the darkened halls, the posted warnings, and these blank charts sit as a solemn reminder of what is missing and who we lost. Let us not forget those that left too soon and continue to work to end the isolation that was all too pervasive at nursing facilities even before the pandemic.
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