A View of the Hospital in America
I went to the hospital today as a visitor. A relative had a knee replaced and I wanted to pop-in for a short visit just to see how things were going. There may be a need I can help with when they finally get home. We’ll see.
I feel I’ve had some experience with hospitals, from being a caregiver for my mother when she was struggling with lung cancer. We went to several different medical facilities, different departments, different doctors,… spent a few nights sleeping in a chair, sitting with mom.
It’s been a few years now since mom passed,.. but the hospital,.. it’s still the same.
Hospitals exist in their own space.
They have their own smell, their own feel. When you’re inside, the world continues just outside the door, but there’s a change inside. They don’t seem to turn with the rest of the world.
Day,.. night,.. rain, cold, wind outside,.. but nothing’s the same inside.
There is a clock on the wall, but it’s not as important inside, as it is outside. Schedules can wait, maybe for hours and hours,.. but they never seem to be late. And no one seems to notice that there’s a turning world outside. People just living their lives, busy with today.
I think of a fish in a bowl. They’re in there, living, moving, comfortable,… but in a bowl apart from the rest of us.
So I have to ask a question. Is this a machine? Am I visiting, inside a machine? Who can answer this? A fish in a bowl doesn’t seem to care if it’s in a bowl or not. It doesn’t want out.
Perhaps it’s not a machine, because I see people walking around in there,.. nice people. Not a machine,… but a system.
Yes, the hospital is definitely a system.
There is a plan for everything. Patients have bar codes on their wrists and a plan for their treatment. A different person for each function in the plan. A person comes to review the accomplishments of the last person who performed the last function in your plan. A place for everything and everything in its place. And that place is chosen in response to the epidemic of lawyers roaming the system for their lottery-winning lawsuit.
So this hospital system,.. it is our system. Made for us. Ran by us. Paid for by us. And we use it. But be aware. This system has a plan for you. A project report about your reaction. A time table for your procedures. All of which can be accessed through the bar code on your wrist.
But in the end, your health care responsibility,.. is yours.
You must question the system, the function of each step. The system has been known to make mistakes. So asking questions is your method of dealing with the system. Questions are your tool within the system. Use it.
Be the advocate for your loved ones in the system. Their eyes and ears and thinking may be foggy from medication. If you know “they like this” but “they don’t like that,” then speak up. You know their allergies, their history, medical and otherwise, their moral values, and their fears and hopes. This helps. You can be instrumental in “humanizing” the system as a caregiver.
So, the world of a hospital may be all its own, with all its schedules and smells, and the polite nod to the clock. Just remember, your best chance to understand the why and how,… is a question asked.