Saturday, August 17, 2019


From Boardroom to Bedside

We often hear from the owner or the person running a business how their staff behave.  We don’t allow that behavior here” someone may say to an irate customer.

It’s not unusual for that statement to be shared to patients or their families who are not pleased with the care they are receiving.  Years ago, when I worked with people who were living with various physical disabilities as a patient advocate, someone in leadership at a hospital said to me, as well as the group he was presenting to, that nurses and nursing assistants take extra care of people who have disabilities.  They take extra time and address any special needs they might have at his hospital.

“So”, I asked him, “do you have extra staff to help these nurses or are they just told to work harder?”  His look was the answer I expected.

I was there because of the problems people with disabilities were having in their medical treatment and he was supposed to have the answers.

Another time, a hospital director explained that “we rarely, if ever see people who are transgender so we don’t need to address that here”. (See March 2015)   After my presentation which was touching on bias and disparities, I was asked by an employee “how do we address people who are transgender?”  When I asked why that was important to him, I learned he was in charge of the transport team and they see many people who they believe are transgender mostly in the emergency room.  Something leadership was not aware of.

I have heard what a hospital's policy is for handwashing and then watch how many staff do not wash.  By reporting this, at times, I have received thoughtful responses from the leadership, or the doctor themselves who I challenged.   This is how, I believe we, as patients can make change.

Hospital leadership (and I am careful to use the term leadership because a hospital or healthcare facility is usually made of brick.  The leadership is made up of humans and decision makers with their own feelings and needs) the human beings who are in charge of the healthcare system, often do not know what is happening at the bedside.  Many times, I have asked them to “take off your tie and go sit with a patient to see for yourself the comments and care your staff – good or bad – use in treating patients.”

I know when I worked at my last customer service job customers would speak to me about how lousy service was at times. The management didn’t know because we were addressing the unhappy customers for them with apologies - so improvements couldn’t be made because they didn’t know where the problems were.

Then I get a look at this video that has come out and wonder how long this PA has worked in this hospital.  How many complaints were mishandled and how many people have been injured or hurt?  Should they go back to any patient he has ever treated as they would if it was a disease that could be spread through dirty needles of unclean equipment?  Maybe all his patients who he ever treated should get a letter that reads “Dear patient, we found a parasite in our hospital and want to prevent this from spreading further”.

I only ask that though the majority of healthcare workers are kind, considerate and qualified, the expression “no one wakes up in the morning wanting to harm their patients” is never used again. There are good and bad people in every job, every color, every religion, every gender………….

In all fairness, the comments by the hospital are on their Facebook Page

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