On Hospitals, Patients, and Patience

On Hospitals, Patients, and Patience

Ouch, ouch, ouch. Okay, that’s over with.

I am now on post-operative day 18 – Total Knee Replacement, and no one said it would be a piece of cake. But at least by now, I have some perspective – I am using a cane relatively effectively, and am off all pain medication, still a bit fuzzy headed, but able to concentrate for at least two consecutive minutes.

And I wanted to write a bit about my hospital experience. I’ve seen several rants recently by those who were disappointed (that is an understatement) with their or a relative’s hospital stay. And I can appreciate that. But I want this post to show that there is another side –and there is such a thing as a well-run, finely-tuned organization that is staffed with competent, caring staff. For that is exactly what I experienced.

From my pre-op morning, which took 64 minutes from the time I left my car with the valet park until I was back behind the wheel, to the day of my surgery and those post-op days, I felt that I was genuinely cared for.

Now I have worked in hospitals, so I do know the other side, and I must say that I was prepared with realistic expectations. That always helps.

For instance, I know that I am not the only patient on the floor. There are others, just as in need, and perhaps more so, that I. So when I needed help, I called the nursing assistant right away – I didn’t wait until it was urgent. I could call the nurse, the nursing assistant assigned to me directly. They always answered, told me where they were, and how long it would be before I could expect them. What a great idea – for isn’t it the unknowing that makes waiting all the more distressing? In one instance where I needed help quicker than my assigned staff could get to me, she sent someone else in. So it really is a combination of technology and touch that can make a difference.

I am ever grateful for the help I received, from the nurses who brought me my medication, sometimes even before I realized that I needed it, to the nursing assistants, who were always there, and especially the one who called me “darlin’,” to the dining service worker who brought me a cold cloth for my migraine, while trying to figure out the best thing she could offer to get me to eat, to the housekeeper, who slipped in so gently and patted me on the shoulder as she left. And that, of course, says nothing of the physical therapists who forced an unwilling, but necessary, walk down the hall and up a flight of stairs, naturally, for my own good.

I actually stayed an additional day to what was expected, and never had a sense that I was being discharged too early.

So, thought I’d relay some good news about hospitals. Thanks, Moses Cone Hospital. Great job!

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