HenSchen: Go home, ‘casuals,’ before you hurt someone
Art HenSchen April 20, 2012 7:28PM
Art HenSchen mug for guest column
Updated: May 23, 2012 8:11AM
This is an open letter to all of the healthcare professionals in our area. My recent experience over the last few years — up to the passing of my mother this past Monday — is what prompts my comments.
Many of you are simply “angels.” I am thankful for your many gifts of love, compassion, kindness and patience. Doctors, nurses, CNA’s, caregivers — anyone who works at a hospital, clinics nursing home, hospice, and visiting professionals, therapists, etc. — God bless you each and everyone.
However, here is a little constructive criticism. Your patients are not children, and for the most part, they are not without hearing or feelings. Typically, they are more mature in years than you. They deserve respect. They are not “Johnny” or “Suzie” or “Sweetie.” They are Mr. Johnson, Mrs. Smith or Ms. Jones. If they grant you the privilege of calling them by their first name, so be it.
I had more than 1,600 employees I saw with some regularity, and they never called me by my surname. Yet I’ve had 18-year-old receptionists make the attempt at the doctor’s office. It is insulting and disrespectful. We are uncomfortable, not feeling well — not to mention we are paying, and paying well, for a service. Regardless of stature, adults deserve respect and courtesy.
Next, get on the same page, folks. Communicate with one another, read the charts! One doctor comes in and says, “Mom is not doing well at all. Most cases I see like this do not recover.”
The next doctor comes in and says, “We’ve seen quite a bit of improvement!”
Still another physician says, “I would call hospice.”
Folks … don’t give us false hope. Don’t tell us the kidneys are much better if all the other organs are shutting down. Don’t tell us it looks like that infection is clearing up if the cancer has spread everywhere.
Finally, nurses, how can you not know what medication has been prescribed and when it was last administered? How can you not know how often to medicate? Some folks are very sensitive to medication. My mother was very sensitive to a time line. I would detail this information to her nurses; occasionally it was followed.
Nursing homes, why do you have bad reputations? I think you have earned them. Hospital staffs blame you for patient relapses and the return of infections. Are you properly administering medications in a timely manner? Are you observing patients or just suffering them to sit in the hallway slumped over in their wheelchairs? Are you properly bathing them on a regular basis? Do you check for infections, bruising, rashes and changes in temperature?
These are our loved ones you are caring for and have been entrusted with. Many of you are “angels.” but there are an equal number of “casuals,” just putting in time. To you I say, go home before you hurt someone.
My mother was in a nursing home and no one noticed an infection getting much worse. Fortunately, my home health care provider visited the nursing home and noticed. We immediately returned Mom to the hospital for treatment. Someone must have seen this when cleansing her or changing her over three days, and did nothing.
A word of caution, never assume hospitals and nursing homes exchange information or administer medication on the same schedule or frequency. Typically, you will have a new doctor making assessments. That doctor typically has no connection to your doctor. If you are unhappy with your loved one’s treatment, you can order them back to the hospital for an evaluation.
Thanks again to you folks who are true professionals with hearts of gold. You know those among you who are not. It is your duty to instruct them, encourage them, help them or report them.
If not, your loved one may wind up in their care.
Dr. Art HenSchen of Minooka is a graduate of Newburgh Theological Seminary and a practitioner of Pastoral Care. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.