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Wednesday, June 30, 2010

What makes a good hospital

It's weird how one hospital can be bad and one be decent. I work at a really nice hospital, and I hardly ever heard complaints about it even before I worked here.

Over in the next town where I grew up there's a hospital many call Death Medical Center. And that's where I always went when I had bad asthma as a kid. I always thought I got good care. Although one of my coworkers who worked there back when I was a kid told me that even my doctor was a loopy one. Yet how was I to know? Well, I didn't care because I was just a kid, yet how were my parents to know? And even if they did know, what would my parents have done anyway? When I was having breathing trouble they certainly weren't going to drive me 20 miles to Shoreline Hospital when Death MC was five minutes away.

When I started as an RT, I thought where I worked had a nice down homey atmosphere, and all the people were great. We don't have the newest facility, but you know you're going to get the best care. Over at Death MC they have all the nicest rooms. They even have private rooms, and in their OB they have hot tubs. It's really nice. Yet the people are dip shoots. Well, not all of them, but the aura is different from where I work. I think the aura of a place comes down from the top, and here at Shoreline we have a nice aura.

I remember the first time I ever came into this place for my physical, a volunteer met me right at the front door and escorted me herself to where I needed to go. I had a good impression right off the bat. When I interviewed at Death MC the lady at the front desk "told" me how to get where I was going, and I never did quite find it. In fact, I'm still looking.

In fact, when I did work at Death MC 10 years ago, one of my friends who worked there said one day as we were walking into work, "I never met a bunch of a##holes all rolled in to one building in my life." I think she hit the nail on the head for dip shoot hospitals. It's weird how two hospitals so close can be so different in all regards.

Seriously, I think where I work, here at Shoreline Medical Center, there is an extra emphasis on public relations. When you say you're going to do something, you do it. When you see a patient looking lost, you walk them to their destination, and if you're too busy you at least stop and point them in the right direction. If a patient is sitting on a bed a long time, you go out of your way to at least make them aware that we didn't forget them. It's just that little extra effort can make a big difference in how people view your institution.

Yes we still do have our politics that irritate you from time to time. You have your occasional administrators who leave you notes every time you do something wrong, yet when you save a life nothing is said. Yet those events are normal, and to be expected. After all, the bottom line is making money.

Likewise, if I put myself in their shoes, I can't say I'd do it any different. In fact, I'm pretty sure I wouldn't. You do whatever it takes to keep your job, and to keep your institution in the black. And while the bosses don't mean to seem one sided, that's sometimes how they come across, especially to the complainers.

Yet a good pat on the back, a good comment, a smile, a nod of the head, or even just that little bit of going out of your way to make a difference can really help make an institution that much better.

It's true that I would like to see more protocols, and I would like to see administrators and doctors allow RTs like myself to share our opinions more, and have them listen and heed our advice. There is a process and we do get heard, yet sometimes it doesn't seem often enough nor fast enough nor efficient enough, and I think that's what's the most irritating.

Politics is irritating. And as much as I hate people in Washington deciding what pot holes in Shoreline to fill, I don't like Admins deciding how the nurses nursing station should be set up and arranged. Decisions should be made by local people who see the problems and know exactly what to do to fix them.

Our hospital has made progress in this ares with Keystone meetings, Huddles, and the like, and asking me and others in my department to participate by writing policy, creating protocols and working with admins and doctors and RT bosses to make our institution better.

Yet it's slow progress regardless. Like when you stare at a clock, it seems to be not moving at all. Daunting it is. That's just normal. You'll have your politics wherever you go. Yet, overall, I think Shoreline has a good, down home atmosphere filled with people who care. I think it starts at the top, and it starts with a smile.

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