It’s Monday afternoon (5/12/14) as I write this, and I am doing so in the room they checked me into after the emergency room visit on Saturday afternoon. Saturday morning I had awakened with no strength in any of my body and twice the weight in every extremity. After several hours of lying like a hunk of meat on the easy chair I decided to enlist my good friend Ed Morrow’s help getting me to the hospital.
I was absolutely miserable until sunday morning when, for the first time, I felt this might not be the last visit to the hospital I would ever make. But that would just be morbid talk,
so let’s talk about hospitals, for I’ve learned a bit in my brief time here.
First off, when I finally got a shower this morning, I learned there are no brushes provided, nor any available, except one kind in the auxiliary store downstairs during the hours of 9 to 4 Monday through Friday. I don’t know the processes that led to this decision, but I doubt it involved any longhairs of any sex.
But make no mistake, having a hospital in your own community is a godsend. The shear number of people and the expertise under one roof is extraordinary. Within one day I was feeling much better, within two I was back to my baseline before the attack, which was, essentially, brought on by M.S. being affected by a mild pneumonia and strep throat.
An even later update on me and hospitals:
Now it’s Tuesday morning and I’m still feeling fine but getting very anxious about staying too long here. I know that it’s very easy to minimize how dangerous hospitals are. And the old saying, “hospitals are the place people go to die” masks the fact that that’s not what they’re there for and draws attention away from the fact that the numbers of deaths at a hospital should always be kept in mind.
In other words, no hospital is awfully bad, but some hospitals are better than others.
One of the weirdest things about my understanding of hospitals came about as a direct consequence of my having fallen yesterday shortly after the entry I made above. There was absolutely no injury, and no one would have ever known, except for the fact that I called for help to get up, which would have been truly dangerous with there being no sensibly placed grab bars in the bathroom.
As soon as the attendant saw me on the floor, the whole place went sort of bonkers. It seems the staff lives in virtual terror of falls because of the potential of the hostile downward notice they garner from above.
I had already noticed the general phenomenon of administrative failure in appropriate staff support (or at least I suspected it) when I realized that every employee wears a tracking device while on duty. That level of monitoring, whether a case could be made for it or not, would simply drive me crazy.
At any rate,, the staff seems distinctly terrified by the administration regarding negative feedback from a patient fall. In my case this manifested itself in my being put in an overcrowded room I referred to as my penalty box, which, so far as I could see, had the main advantage that it had a portable bed in which an able-bodied twenty-four hour guard could be housed to prevent my attempting any further activity which might bring on a fall, and whose disadvantages included a toilet seat which, when raised according to strict interpretation of doctor’s orders–given in the old room with the low toilets-left me with feet dangling. I general, because I fell unsupervised, I wound up performing many activities in a manner decidedly less safely than they would have been had I not fallen. But I understand that.
But the situation is compounded by the very real possibility of falls which the hospital’s own practices might initiate. I’ve already mentioned the very poor locating of grab bars in the bathrooms. The toilet paper dispenser is too low on the wall when the toilet seat is raised to accommodate patients who are too weak to safely get up from the low toilets in most to the rooms. The toilet elevating device, itself, is unstable, etc. Most of these potential problems would best be dealt with if suggestions from those who deal with the patients daily felt a free-flow of information going up the chain was truly encouraged. But a sense of intimidation from above never encourages such a perception
This is a common theme in professional organizations of all sorts: Administrators tend to think people working for them do so mainly for the money. and they are sometimes right. But most people in professional organizations are not there for the money–they are there for the satisfaction they get from the work. Administrators, and the boards that oversee the administrations, need to realize this and learn to trust their lower level workers more,