My grandmother went in for a routine checkup, but came back out with a not-so-routine (for her anyways) diagnosis. It probably wasn’t going to be life threatening, but more tests needed to be done. For as long as I can remember, my grandmother has been in good health—never really had anything more than the common cold. So to hear the words “we’ve found something in your results” was quite unsettling for her.
After a few more tests, it was determined she would need surgery to remove some cancerous tissue. Thankfully, the cancer was contained, and once the tissues were gone, so was the cancer. My grandmother is now healed up and back to living her normal active life, but I’ve learned that whether you’ve been in the hospital once, or you’ve practically lived there because of a chronic condition, it’s never fun to lie in a hospital bed, and it’s never where you want to spend your Saturday night (my grandmother would usually be at a local restaurant with her husband).
Fortunately—and knock on wood— I’ve never had the experience of staying any length of time in the hospital, but I know many people who have, and I’ve observed that hospitals are loud, unfamiliar, a great bit eerie, and not restful, at all. Now, I don’t want to downplay the care my grandmother received, because she was treated with excellence from prep to surgery to recovery, but I also feel there were a few “small” things (depending on how you look at it) that got overlooked during her stay.
I think what bothered me the most was that my grandmother was never instructed on how to “call the nurse” if she needed something. When my family arrived to visit her, we discovered that not only did she not know how to call the nurse, but the remote control that contains the call button was twisted around her IV pole, not-so-conveniently located behind her bed, and it was in no way reachable for her.
A nurse knows where the call button is, knows what buttons to press to tilt the bed, or how to turn on a light, but patients don’t, not unless you tell them. Looking through the eyes of a nurse, these could be seen as simple instructions, maybe even information to be taken for granted, but from the eyes of a patient, they’re important things to know and quite possibly what makes the difference between a good stay and a bad one.
I think this is why the most recent story I wrote for the Johns Hopkins Nursing magazine was so important to me. The Johns Hopkins Hospital’s Zayed 8E Labor and Delivery Unit recently installed an Electronic Team Board, which displays the name, face, and title of every health worker on the floor. This is crucial because nurses, doctors, and clinicians now know who they are working with and who to call when a patient needs assistance. Because of this, patients can receive quicker and better quality care.
There is hope that this new system will eventually be displayed in patients’ rooms as well, and I’m looking forward to that. I think it will be extremely beneficial for patients. There will be no more difficulty around remembering the name or your nurse or your doctor because it will be displayed right in your room.
No matter the patient or the length of stay, it’s no fun being in the hospital, and even the smallest of gestures, like making sure the patient has enough blankets or showing them how and who to call for help, can have lasting and significant impact. I think the new Electronic Team Board is such a simple, but great idea, and I’m excited to see where it goes. Read more about it.