Yesterday, as I sat in my husband’s hospital room and watched the parade of people passing down the hall, I was reminded of how many good people are involved in the moment-by-moment operation of a hospital. We speak often of the advances in medical research and the changes in current practice and the progress made possible by technology, but most of it is worthless if not taken up by the hands and hearts of good people.
Gary and I have a somewhat different understanding of hospitals since both of us previously worked in medical care. We’re a little more comfortable with the routines and procedures. We understand how difficult it can be to treat everyone quickly and efficiently. Perhaps that makes us a bit more appreciative of good care and more sympathetic when things aren’t done perfectly.
We also have a too-long history of previous hospital stays, both as patients and visitors. I’ve had eight surgeries and numerous accidents. Gary has had five previous surgeries and some serious illnesses. All of our children have been in the hospital more than once. Add in a few other relatives and close friends and we could easily count up a year or two of hospital residency. However, in all of that time I can truly recall very few bad experiences that were directly due to terrible care. Yes, mistakes were sometimes made, pain was sometimes inflicted, and expectations were often misleading, but not by intention or animosity, simply as a result of human error.
One specific compliment that must be made this week is that ALL of the staff of Alliance Hospital has shown a friendly attitude and concern for patient care. Everyone from the volunteers in outpatient admissions to the custodial staff on the third floor has been cheerful and helpful. More than once someone has stopped in the lobby to ask if I needed direction. A woman who was cleaning in the hall stopped to ask if I was “stretching my legs” or needed something. The cafeteria staff has been quick to explain my food options and they also serve great coffee at all hours. And the nurses…
What can you say about someone who is charged with maintaining the life, health, and comfort of someone who is fragile, in pain, afraid, and cranky? I’ve always respected and admired nurses. I thought seriously about becoming one, but veered off into teaching instead. Nurses have to have compassion, knowledge, patience, and a vast repertoire of “people skills”. I can’t even imagine the array of personalities they encounter each day. All of the medicines in the world won’t help you as a patient if they aren’t administered correctly. A combination of sympathy, encouragement, and “drill sergeant” enthusiasm might be necessary to promote recovery. Nurses hold the key to getting out of the hospital as quickly as possible and back to our normal lives.
So, I am grateful today for the good people we have encountered at our hospital and I hope that each of your will join me in saying a prayer for the staff of your local hospital.