Witwithwords Blog

Archive for September 2010

During the last six months, I’ve visited lots of hospitals in Massachusetts – luckily, as a visitor and and not as a patient! I became the advocate for someone from my church and for loved ones. And while the various hospitals all treated these patients with top-flight medical care, there is a big difference in how they treated me – the patient’s advocate or caregiver.

At Milford Regional Medical Center, http://www.milfordregional.org,
they allowed me to stay with the 80-year-old woman I drove to the ER. Whenever I made a request for the patient, hospital personnel met my requests ASAP. They practiced hospital protocol by frequently asking the patient her name, what her illness was and then explaining what they planned to do next. However, because her complaint was not life-threatening, it was a long wait and because it was crowded, she lay on a stretcher for almost six hours in the hallway.

At Norwood Hospital (Caritas Health Care)http://www.caritaschristi.org, which I visited twice, the staff was friendly and professional enough. However, they never alerted me to when the patient was in recovery. I had to continually ask, and then they had to send someone down to check on my request. Waiting without an answer was nerve-wracking! Plus, they just wheeled out the patient and I did not hear the at-home instructions, even though I was going to be responsible for the patient for the first 24 hours after the surgery.

At Faulkner Hospital, http://www.faulknerhospital.org, which I visited three times with a friend for one-day surgeries, they allowed me to accompany the patient all the way to the sedation room and right up to the time he went into the OR. Then, they directed me to a waiting room specifically set aside for caregivers, and they staffed that room with a volunteer who frequently checked on the progress of everyone’s surgery. As soon as the patient was semi-alert in Recovery, I was allowed to join him. I received verbal and written instructions for his at-home care.

The one big difference between all of these hospitals is that the personnel at Faulkner (now part of the Brigham and Women’s Health Care) seemed to consider the caregivers as a crucial part of the patient’s recovery. (How a surgical patient responds in the first 24 hours after surgery is elemental to their recovery.) The staff also seemed trully upbeat and happy. Everyone on the staff that I came into contact with enjoyed their work, got along together as a team, followed safety protocols to the max (from frequent hand-washing to identifying the patient, the illness, surgical procedure, etc.,) had smiles on their faces and were caring and responsive, not only to the patient, but to me.

You don’t always have a choice when it comes to hospital care – but if I have the choice, the choice is very clear.

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