Finding a Good Hospital
Chances are if you've never been admitted to a hospital that you someone who has. How did they make the decision on where to be taken? In an emergency, the ambulance driver usually asks the patient for their hospital preference. In our case when the surgeon scheduled the surgery, his recommendation made our choice easy.
I've spent many hours at the hospital, thankfully, as a visitor most of the time. Whether you're in the patient's room or in the surgical waiting area it gives a person plenty of time to take a good look around. From your careful observations, a lot can be determined about the hospital.
Observe the way the admissions staff handles the paperwork. That can often indicate the underlying philosophy of the institution. Do they care about customer service and care about how their hospital is regarded? Make sure you're pleased with how you're treated when you arrive. If not, turn around and go elsewhere.
The Waiting Room
Hospital Check In
Most modern hospitals use a process that guides the patient carefully through the system. Even in an emergency, staff is present to take down your insurance numbers, medical history, medications list and get you plugged into the data base from which current hospitals can keep track of every action that goes forward from admission through discharge.
The Power of Observation
When we arrived at the North Tower for our scheduled appointment, we were greeted by the aroma of Starbuck's coffee perking in the background. This was a good omen.
While we waited to be called, we watched a pair of housekeepers buffing the floor to a dazzling shine. One was on his knees scraping away a small imperfection in the otherwise spotless hallway. So far, so good: cleanliness and attention to detail.
We were promptly summoned and the standard pre admissions questions were asked quickly and courteously. Then our questions were answered. Another x-ray was needed so we headed out to radiology when a passing hospital employee asked us if we needed directions. She escorted us personally down the maze of hallways and elevators all the way to the proper area before she went back to her duties. Wow. There it was. The wow factor was kicking in.
The First Cut Is The Deepest - Rod Stewart
The Day of Surgery
The next morning we left the house before dawn, following a major bout of nausea probably due to nerves. We arrived at the designated Surgical Admissions Area at 6:30 am and were issued a pager which would be used to provide updates to the patient advocate (me) as long as we remained on the hospital grounds. We took a seat surrounded by other anxious looking people wearing the haunted looks of a sleepless night.
As each pager went off, a surgical staff member would come out to the waiting room and find the the family then escort them back to the pre-op surgical area. At this point, the patient puts on that drafty cotton wrap-around gown and crawls into a rolling bed to wait for further instructions.
A large clock on the wall ticks down the long two hour wait as various technicians pop in and out of the curtained room. The first nurse starts an intravenous drip. Someone else comes in and says they will be monitoring neurological readings while the patient is under. The next visitor is the anesthesiologist who asks a host of questions about things already answered, then the scrub nurse who will be assisting comes in and asks more of the same questions. They each check the patient's arm band and ask him his birthdate before they begin any treatment. Things start moving rapidly along once the Surgeon steps in the room.
"I'll just give you a quick shot," the anesthesiologist tells the patient, shooting a stream of liquid into the air from a prepared syringe "to make you relax." It's a shot of something that takes away your concerns and sends you into dreamland.
"It must be working because nothing is making any senzzzzz." The patient drifts off and I go back out to the Surgical Waiting Area where someone at Starbucks is steaming milk for a latte. Right now it doesn't sound all that great, but in a couple of hours, who knows.
Admissions Waiting Pre-op
The Doctor is In
But far more important than a clean environment and friendly well-trained personnel, you'll want to get a top notch surgeon, one with your best interests in mind. And in the case of Doctor Stephen R. Neece, a Dallas neurosurgeon, we were in fantastic hands.
Neurosurgeons train for the longest periods of any medical specialty. This is because of the extreme complexity of the nervous system and the advanced technological procedures they use in surgery. These are medical specialists trained to help patients suffering from neck and back pain, brain tumors and a host of other illnesses.1
In addition to four years of medical school and a year of internship after graduation, neurosurgeons complete 5 to 7 years in residency in an accredited program training on the cerebrovascular system, the spine and spinal cord with at least 3 years devoted to clinical neurosurgery and at least 3 months to clinical neurology.
At half past six o'clock, the rest of the patients' family and friends who started the day here are long gone. The lucky ones who were in for day surgery are resting comfortably at home and the others are in their assigned rooms.
Twelve hours since our arrival, I saw the doctor heading in my direction wearing a big smile, a good sign. The end of the day looms brighter in the darkened hospital as I listen to his carefully chosen words.
"I hope you got some lunch while you waited," he said.
"Yes, thanks. Did you?" I asked.
"No. They don't let me take a lunch." He laughed then explained the procedure they performed over the past fourteen hours.
Thoughtful kindness is something else to look for in a hospital; finding people who actually care. And to say the patient in this case had good care is an understatement. Each action the staff member took was explained carefully and thoroughly what was being done. From the moment I walked into the ICU, amid the scream of a thousand electronic beeping devices, I was treated as part of the whole medical picture.
Throughout the experience I gained a new respect for the professionals who serve in the medical field. This hospital staff provided an atmosphere where the patient was treated with courtesy and respect including the extended family members. It takes a lot of dedication and training to be able to handle what these professionals do for a living day in and day out. It truly is an amazing place where they work.
Nurse's Station Waiting Area
- American Association of Neurological Surgeons AANS Publication #774-08, 2008 and Publication #899-07, 2007
© 2012 Peg Cole
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