.Standard & Not Standard
Today is the first day of classes for the new academic year.
It is nice seeing all the new faces of young Freshman, and it is nice for the return of a lot of activity on campus. I am not trying to complain, so please do not think I am whining... I feel very melancholy this day. It does not seem a new, fresh start for me. I do not feel the eagerness and the limitless possibilities like I typically do at the start of the academic year. For the first time that I can ever recall, this wonderful day does not invigorate me. It simply feels like a day like the last umpteen many days that I have to get through. I used to feel excited, enthused and strangely proud to be a professor... especially at the start of the year. Unfortunately, today it only seems like a job.
I no longer seem able to conjure up any emotions other than fear and sadness. The weight of responsibility of being the primary caregiver is enormous. I went to the hospital at 6:30am on Sunday so as to be there to see each of the doctors as they went through since it is not possible to learn of any anticipated times for their rounds (I have asked the nurses, and they hem-and-haw and say that 'we do not know when they may stop it, it could be anytime'). So, yesterday I sat on the lone, hard, wooden chair (the family chairs they provide in this hospital) waiting, and waiting, usually for a very hurried, brusque, minute-or-less session with each physician. I left at 8:35pm last night. Because it was Sunday, most physicians were not the actual physicians for my mother, but instead were those physicians covering for them so they could have a weekend off.
If I could suggest one thing to the health care workers it would be thus:
I know you work hard... you work damn hard! I am not complaining about the amount of work you do.
Physicians, your responsibility is great, your value and benefit to the world is obvious. Please, though, do not assume you have to dumb down your talk to families.... while you may have to teach and explain... dumbing down your words, your wisdom only makes people fearful and distrustful. I also know you are busy, and I also know you need and deserve a life just like all of us. But please keep in mind that the people you deal with are in crisis, and the family of the patients you deal with ARE ALSO in crisis. Work on finding ways to better coordinate care, such as by having a REAL way to allow family to ascertain information when they need it. Nurses may be the traditional route, but they are also so damn overworked, that 9 times out of 10, they barely know the patient's name let alone her history, her progress, or her future plans.
Nurses, your responsibilities are great as well, especially because you are being spread too damn thin by most hospital bean counters. But you are the most obvious and critical lifeline between the patient and her getting well, you are also the most prominent link between the swirl of activity that is occurring and the family's understanding of the chaos. Yes, you are overworked, yes, you deserve better treatment. However, keep in mind how scared and how worried we are as family. Keep at the forefront of your mind that your idle chitchat about your lunch, your boyfriends, your frustration at the grocery store, etc.... while those are a part of damn near everyone's workday chit-chat, that sort of talk in front of patients or in front of patient's families only brings on more fear to them... we see you not being focused on our crisis, on our worries. We see unprofessional sides to you better left behind closed doors. So, please, strive to care more even though it is hard. And, for those of you who are LPNs (liscened practical nurses) or ADNs (associate degree registered nurses), keep striving to become stronger and more qualified. Consider going back to school to become at least a BSN RNs (bachelor degree registered nurses). The benefit to you (in understanding and in seeing the bigger picture) and the benefit to the patient and family (in quality of care and professionalism), and the [unperceived by the bean counters, but still true] benefit to the hospital (being a better and more skilled professional) are worth it if you care about your profession.
Nurse's Aids/Assistants - your role is great! You are to a large degree the people who get the grungy, dirty jobs that are not particularly appealing. But please do not lose focus... you are a tremendous asset to the hospital. You are overworked and underpaid, but please do not take it out on your patients.... instead, form coalitions and unions and groups to demand your rights against the administrative bean counters. Keep strong the idea of how fearful and worried we are as patients and patient's families. Try to cage in your language a bit... you are professionals, and slang, poor grammar, and "folksy" phraseology do not help to instill confidence in your work. I am not saying to be robotic grammarians... I am only saying keep your professionalism intact with your words.
Discharge Coordinators - your role is primarily useless. I dislike a particular one of you, who is named Peggy at the hospital my elderly mother is in. Do not jump the gun and get families startled and worried and further on edge by proclaiming in your pseudoauthoratative manner that a patient who is obviously MUCH sicker than she was when she arrived is ready to be "shipped out". For those of you discharge coordinators who want to do a good job (I have yet to meet one, but I suspect there may be many who do), keep the patient and family at the forefront of your mind. Do not presume you know a damn thing about us or our needs. Listen to US and OUR concerns and wishes. Do not use 1984-esque double speak to cover your rear end when we ask you simple questions such as.... "We did not hear anything about my mother being even remotely considered for discharge." "Who told you this?" "When are they thinking she will be discharged?" "She is obviously worse off now than she was when she arrived, this makes no sense. How can she be being considered for discharge?" Your *ss-covering maneuvers are horribly unprofessional, and are rude, belittling, and unpleasant. Your pseudoauthoratative air is aggravating and your smarmy disposition is annoying. I suspect Peggy was put in this role because she was so damn horrid as an actual floor nurse. If you want to be a good discharge coordinator.... keep at the forefront of your mind... DO NOT BE A "PEGGY".
Administrators and Administrative "Bean Counters" - all you think about is money. It is understandable because you are so removed from the drama and trama that the actual health care workers, the patients and the patient's families are dealing with. However, why not do your job WELL and instead of being penny pinching bulldogs who try to have maximum profit with minimal output, why not a) strive for solvency with a damn good and well supported and well developed staff of health care workers, and b) work to make the health care system a better place... and not the horrid, wretched mess of b*llsh*t it currently is. Be the advocate for your hospital for true, real, NATIONAL change in how health care occurs. Get off your *ss*s and do something meaningful.
I guess that is it for today. My mother is stable at the moment. And I was actually able to get one of my sisters to be responsible for being the sentinel at the hospital today so I may actually be at the U.