County Hospital Stories by RN Supervisor
Duties of an Overworked Supervisor
I am a Registered Nurse and I worked as a House Supervisor for a small 80 bed county hospital for about three years just outside of Atlanta about a decade ago. It was a part time position for me, usually 3, sometimes 4 days a week. It was a job I could tolerate while working with my chronic illness,Lupus.
The hours were not great; it usually meant Saturday and Sunday days, then 3 PM to 11 PM on weekdays. Toward the end of my time there I worked some weekdays doing special projects and taught all the CPR because I couldn’t maintain my heath on the 3-11 shifts. When you were House Supervisor it meant all the nurse managers, the VP of nursing and anyone of authority had gone home for the day.
The difficulty of the job was the level of responsibility, and we really had no back up when things went wrong, which happened with some regularity. We did have an on-call administrator for major crisis; basically that was a way to get permission to solve a problem in the way you already knew would work. The weekend shifts usually weren’t too bad, as you had food service, and the pharmacy was open. Staffing and the sheer volume of admits and discharges kept things busy.
Typical Hospital Staf
The second shift was the most difficult as the responsibilities were numerous and the admissions kept the supervisor very busy. The pharmacy closed at 9 PM, which meant you had to complete those duties as well, retrieving the medication for the new admits and for any new orders. Sometimes the patient hadn't eaten so you had to go into the kitchen and find some food. If the ER got too busy you had to help out there or if there was a cardiac arrest you had to drop everything and get there. You priorities were constantly shifting. If someone called in sick, then you had to find coverage for that nurse.
Staffing was very high on your priority list. If you couldn't find someone to stay and work overtime, you had to call all the staff and then if you couldn't find help, you called the staffing agencies. This was very time consuming. Not all night were that tough, but many were based on crisis management.
Children Books - Read While Hosptialized
Some Memorable Nights
The staff overall were hard working RN’s who gave quality care. They were seldom a problem. Patients could be another matter, not to mention their visitors. We had OB-GYN services. One night a man, obviously drunk, came in with an infant in a baby carrier. His wife or girlfriend was in labor. He got mad about something and just tossed that baby in the carrier across the floor. Luckily the carrier landed right side up and the child wasn’t injured. I called the police and 4 big strapping cops came walking up the sidewalk in no time. We loved our police, and I called them more than once. This drunk man went running toward these four policemen walking side by side like he had a football and planned to run right through the defense. As he hit them and his feet flew up over his head. We laughed so hard we almost cried. Of course, the drunk wasn’t hurt, but he was arrested.
Another time I had a couple with a bunch of children in the OB waiting room, and the patient’s father was delighted that he now had a grandchild. His 13 year old daughter had given birth! It is difficult to understand a family with that point of view. Children are not supposed to be having children at 13 years of age.
On another night there was a tornado alerts out with a severe storms already happening. We were located close to the area they called “tornado alley”. That meant we had to get all patients out into the halls, even the newborn babies. The doors were all closed and we just waited it out. Fortunately, we weren’t hit, but we were exhausted.
Another night we lost power in a storm and the back up generators didn’t come on quickly like they should, which is very dangerous. We had maintenance in there in no time to make what turned out to be a minor repair. We had an 8 bed ICU unit that depended on ventilators working, as well as, all equipment so this puts the hospital in a true emergency state..
One night we lost our phone service on an evening I worked. Our service was routed through some inadequate place several miles away, and we spent hours with that problem. The nurses had to use their personal cell phones to call doctors and get orders.
I appreciated the shifts without the major crisis but even they could be quite hectic.
I had always worked in a large hospital before this time, and this was a real eye opening experience. It was a tough job, but it had its rewards. If you went home and every floor was staffed, with things relatively calm, then you felt good about your accomplishments. I had to finally resign as my health was going downhill. It was a real learning experience working in that hospital which probably had a shoestring budget, but was filled with a group of professionals that actually worked together as a team.
© 2010 Pamela Oglesby
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