Saturday, February 7, 2009

Hospital Etiquette-up close and personal

Any of you who have read my posts know how close I am to my mother. She recently has had major surgery and therefore I have not had time to write (I have had many thoughts on travel etiquette again, but these things trump them). I hope you will forgive my lack of posts this week, as I realize there has been silence for an entire week now, I do apoligize for that, I love to keep this blog up and I love to hear back from you, my readers...thank you all for your kind and sincere comments.

While flying to be here before the surgery, I anticipated many things, but one thing I had not anticipated, was how we were going to be treated at the hospital. I have had experience where this is concerned and realize of course that no one is perfect, but I was shocked to have the following experience (much abbreviated for your convenience).

We were not updated on my mother's condition while in recovery from major surgery for several hours and she had major complications last time with the same outcome, so I was thinking we were in for a repeat performance. Despite repeated and patient attempts to acquire knowledge as to my mother's well being, we had no information and waited literally four hours for information that should have come within half of an hour.

When entering ICU, she was attended to by nurses, understandably, but after not knowing how she was, I was waiting outside the room, being gently nudged by a very kind ICU nurse, to go and give my mom a hug. As I entered my mother's room, I was greeted with hostility by these two nurses who not only wanted me to leave, but were so upset that I had dared say (earlier in the day) that communication had been poor. There was no apology, no sympathy (forget the empathy), just arrogance. Now, I have had enough experience with this industry to understand (sympathize) with the difficulty of this situation and the gravity and enormity of their jobs, but it is not beyond anyone to be kind, I don't care what we've been through, we always have a choice...don't we.

I have found a great article that is linked to here and I'd love it if you took the time to read it and understand a little bit more about hospitals, how they're run, and how we can all do our part to make this a better experience for everyone, because we'll all find ourselves in day, whether for ourselves or for a loved one.

I had the patient representative visit our room yesterday afternoon (I haven't explained a fraction of the neglect and rudeness that took place) and she said to me, "I'm amazed that you are so kind and caring, and so well-mannered, I'd be so mad right now, I wouldn't be nice to 'me'". I thought about that last night, she was so sweet and kind and even the "mean" people deserve my respect and I will use my manners no matter who I'm around because we learn by example and maybe one day, you can touch someone else's life.

Outside my mom's window yesterday morning, were the most beautiful camellias I've ever seen, that's why I have a picture of them, and I have very fond memories as a child of visiting gardens where they grow and flourish. Thank you mom for teaching me and letting me grow and flourish.


Audrey said...

You know, I really appreciate your perspective, because I feel the same's so nice to hear it from someone else in a world where an ever increasing number of people seem to be worried only about themselves and 'being right' or 'getting ahead'. Keep up the good work! Kindness matters.

Nicol said...

I have been following your blog for a month or so and I first want to say that I feel that etiquette is extreamly important. Espeically in today's society that lacks in it.

I have had a few experiences with hospitals and I have had both good and bad experiences. In some ways the more "not-knowing" in what should have been happening, the better I felt about the situation.

I love the point you brought up in the end, that basically everyone should be respected. Too many times we left tempers flair and it only makes things worse.

Thanks for sharing the article too.

Woman Interrupted said...

I have learned that being rude back never benefits fact it usually hurts me in the end because I think more about it and feel bad when the others involved have probably long-since forgotten about it.

Belle (from Life of a...) said...

You handled that beautifully, particularly since you were under quite a bit of stress yourself...hope things are going better for your mom.

jori-o said...

I'm a recent fan of your blog too, and I just wanted to tell you that I'm grateful there are people like you who keep their cool and act respectful, regardless of the situation. I'd like to think that I'd act similar, but I know I haven't always been so level-headed. And know, too, that I hope your mom recovers quickly and I'm thinking of you and your family.

Jennifer and Jason Young said...

I have been thinking about you several times day. I just adore you and hope you and your momma do well. I always admire your decorum and presence of mind in those crazy situations. I usually abandon my character and put them in their place which is much less effective than a quiet example of good behavior. I will always admire your good example. I will say I did not freak out at the chocolate lady when she took 30 minutes to package a gift basket while my entire family was being tortured waiting and almost died several times. You must be rubbing off on me after all!!!! Love you to pieces.

Sue said...

Don't get me started on hospitals! While I've had some excellent experiences, the two that counted the most (major surgeries) were the worst! It's laughable now but when I was 26 I was admitted to have my gallbladder removed. This was in the 70's and in those days you were allowed to smoke in your hospital room(!). I had requested a nonsmoking room in advance but was ushered into a room filled with smoke coming from the woman sharing the room with me. A nurse noticed she was smoking and asked her to stop now that I was admitted. This made her very angry and when her family came to visit that evening she told them (from the other side of the curtain) that I was probably there for an abortion and other really nasty things(!). It turned out her boyfriend almost severed her foot in a drunken dispute leaving a nightclub. She said she was in a lot of pain and the smoking helped. Even though my sinus's were stuffed up while I was there, I told her she could smoke (mostly because she kept begging me). Good grief!
The other experience was a few years ago when I was admitted for a hysterectomy. I was sharing a room with another, younger woman and they had placed us in the maternity ward - whether short of rooms or this was their common practice I don't know. Shortly after we had both returned from surgery (and still a bit groggy) in walks this nurse with a scowl on her face and says, "The new mothers on this floor really resent you being here." Now what were we supposed to do/say to a remark like that? Well, I said nothing then, but I made a note of her name and made sure to let the hospital know ALL the details when it came time to fill out the customer service report. Don't know if it did any good because I never heard back from the hospital but golly, they shouldn't have people like that working in a hospital!!!

lorrwill said...

First, I wish your mom well and a speedy recovery.

Second, I could not agree with you more, it serves no one to be rude.

I also appreciate that nurses have tough jobs, but really, if you can not stand the heat, please leave the kitchen.

Way to go for being a living, breathing example of propriety and elegance. You graciously made a bad situation better.

I firmly believe that what we give (eventually) returns to us.