Anonymous Guest Opinion

I helped with an international medical mission several years ago. There, I saw, partly out of necessity and as cultural expectations at the time, family members providing the clothing, sheets, food, pillows, personal supplies and care and sometimes the medications for a hospitalized loved one.

Closer to home, hospital care today reminded me of much of the same. While the facilities, resources and skills of the professionals are vastly superior,  what you cannot  expect is becoming more similar to what I saw overseas. Generally, the previous routinely provided patient services appear to be less common to totally forgotten. These include:

  • A daily bath or clean linen, mouth care, urinary catheter care, back rubs, skin care, range of motion, accurate intake and output records, IV site changes, leg exercises, re-positioning, coughing and deep breathing exercises, any type of therapy on the day ordered, a previously routinely provided basin with toothbrush or lotion or soap or water pitcher or hospital gown.

Perhaps, however, that is a good thing in some regards as the time for the patient to rest is now bombarded with interruptions from:

  • Dietary, visitors, clergy, lab, x-ray, maybe Physical Therapy, social worker and/or discharge planners, volunteers, students, vital signs, blood sugar checks, Aides, Doctors, PA’s, Nurses, head nurse or manager doing satisfaction rounds or in search of equipment, food tray pick up, IV pumps beeping, needle box replacement, food delivery, housekeeping, room changes, respiratory therapy, transport to ultrasound, CT, MRI and more.

In short, general hospital care has morphed into a strange brew of diverse intrusions. It is a busy place and anxious to get you in, processed, out, and the next patient in – before you need a bath or help to the bathroom. It has become an assembly line of programmed activity for diagnosis and quick fix.

Granted, hospitals are not 4-star hotels and should not seek that standard. And I understand the needs, motivations, costs, regulations and more. Nonetheless, they continue to be held to patient satisfaction metrics and mission statements that have not kept pace with that reality.

Hospitals seem determined to become a smaller, yet more intense, part of life that simultaneously impacts more people. Acute care appears to be shirking “healthy life style” obligations in favor of essential, albeit, immediate restorations of health – and perhaps always should have been. To me, it is the responsibility of the individual and collective community to keep people healthy, safe and emphasize better life choices – and the job of hospitals to get things back on track when Plan A does not work quite as well as hoped.

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