This is a long post, but I think you should read it.
You may recall that a few days ago I mentioned that I was expected to go in and see my boss on Tuesday and have a little chat regarding the work that I “skipped” on Sunday. Well… I was thinking, I’d go and take care of that in the afternoon so that at the same time, I would be able to stop by the YMCA to handle some business with some folks there.
I get a call at 8:30AM today while I’m in the washroom shaving.
“Hey, [Jinryu], aren’t you coming in?” says the secretary.
“Well, yeah. But I was going to come in the afternoon. Is that okay?” I say groggily.
“But you’re supposed to be in the day hospital right now.”
In my head, I’m thinking, WTF did you just say?
“Uh… excuse me?” I say politely. It takes superhuman control for me to not go apeshit.
“Didn’t you check your schedule? You’re working today, tomrrow, thursday and friday.”
At this point, I actually consciously have to relax my hand because I hear the cellphone creaking under my hardening grip.
“I wasn’t informed of this,” I say simply. It sounds like a stupid thing to say, but really, I just woke up and I was trying to pace myself in this conversation and get my bearings.
“You need to check your schedule… blah blah blah…”
In my head I’m losing focus, and I’m imagining myself drop kicking that secretary out the small window in her office.
I cut her off: “Alright, I’m on my way.”
So I’m more or less fucked royally in terms of transportation. I’m not going to spend 30$ on a cab to get to work because that’s just retarded, I’m not working for charity here. The day hospital can wait a bit, it’s not usually crowded early in the morning. And yet, I do want to get to work fast so I can have that talk with my boss. Bus metro walk? No, BMWing is not going to work today because I just missed a bus, and it’ll add another half an hour just waiting for the next one.
So I run down the stairs, pull my good mountain bike off the wall, find the city tires, do a quick switch, and wheel out.
Somehow, I manage to average about 29kmph against the wind, so I get to work in a bit over a half hour. I’m thinking maybe I overdid it because I feel dehydrated and a bit light headed because I didn’t even have my breakfast.
I arrive in the day hospital, my helmet in hand, sweat running down my face and my hair matted to my head, and I croak through a parched throat to my boss, who is there waiting: “Good morning boss.”
Anyway, after taking a minute or two to quickly wash up and change shirts (lucky I had a spare shirt in my bag) I come into my office looking quite presentable. I do some rudimentary stuff to make sure the place gets started off, then I head to my boss’s office.
She looks at me, her face grim but nonjudgemental: “So, [Jinryu], tell me what’s going on.”
So we have a little talk. And I must admit, I vent a bit about how fucking stupid this system is. I don’t point fingers at anyone because I respect my boss too much to do things like deflect blame. There are parts of this scenario that are possibly my fault– namely, that I never check the schedules, I always communicate by telephone. So in a sense– I neglected one responsability, which is to check out the hardcopy schedule myself. I guess it was a mistake to think that asking a secretary for my schedule would be considered official, or that the secretary was trustworthy.
I’m not going to make that mistake again.
We have our talk, anyway, and it goes pretty well. My boss, we’ll call her “L”, she’s one of my heroes, you see. She’s the kind of person who knows how to play the game of office politics, but she’s the kind of person who plays the game for the good of the hospital and not for her own personal gain. When she got promoted to be daytime super instead of just an evening super (it’s a pretty big difference) she was pretty surprised, and to be truthful, I was suprised too– because there’d been a significant amount of power playing around work, and there were definately more people who were sucking up more than L. But she got the job, and none were more deserving I think. She’s one of those people who does and will continue to make a difference at this place.
As I’m talking to her, I throw down a few hints that I don’t like the system at all, and that I think, though getting my schedule updates by telephone is not official procedure, I think it’s not unreasonable for my to expect that the information I get from the secretary should be expected to be accurate…
Anyway. We work it out, and so I’m at the day hospital now as I write this in my email account (by the time you read this, it’s a reposting several hours after the fact, since Xanga and Facebook are both blocked at work).
I’m going to be working everyday for this week. It rather throws a wrench into some of my “see people before I leave” plans, like Wednesday, Thursday and Friday… but Wednesday I’m supposed to finish work at about 3:30pm at latest so that’s not half bad for my plans, though it does cut down time quite a bit… Thursday, also 3:30pm. And friday, that ass monkey of a secretary scheduled me to work until 10:30pm, which is just NOT NICE considering how many friday evenings I’ve been working lately.
It rather sucks because I really wanted to spend some time with some people before I left for my vacation. But well, it can’t be helped– it’s not just that the money would come in handy, but more importantly, there’s no one else who can work these days, so I have to go in.
And so I’m trying to think positive about all this. For the most part, like I said, I’m handling this a lot better than I thought.
But lets get to the dirt. I think Visual_Noise’s last comment along the lines of “Better watch out, maybe that secretary is making a move” sums it up. There are a lot of coincidences that are just– shall we say, too coincidental– to be coincidences.
Now, I’ve known for some time now that I’m not going to be working at this hospital forever. This was even before I started applying for teaching positions. My disgust at the way the system works prompted me, several months ago, to work on a pet project that would make the system work a bit better.
This project of mine started off as a one or two page document on the comptuer that was just my basic notes– things like where to find certain forms in the hospital (with 8 floors and multiple departments per floor, it gets kind of stupid when this one particular form is only available in one department, especially if it’s for some sort of obscure request).
But as time went on I started to realize that there’s two types of people who work here. There are the ones who are doing it for the patients, and in so doing, are doing it for themselves to provide better care and to improve as healthcare workers. And then there are those who are just trying to fastrack themselves to higher positions for either the prestige or the pay.
Usually, you won’t find many nurses or doctors in the with the ‘fastracking’ motive– simply because that kind of work is just so grueling (in my opinion) that if you get caught up with stupid ideas like your own self-importance, you just won’t survive. There’s not much room in an effective unit for someone to keep looking at themself admiringly in the mirror.
But I’m not in the medical division– I work the papers. And arguably, at least half of a modern hospital is administrative work, so it’s nothing to dismiss as unimportant.
Yet I’ve found that because the work of an admin isn’t as stressful as the work of a front-line care provider that a lot of admins have to get their kicks elswhere. That’s the power tripping, the pettyness, the corporate judo, the politicking. I hate that shit– I hate it so much.
“The secretary,” who I often refer to in my blogs, is one such person. She’s not exactly a secretary, she’s got some sort of grander official title. I don’t say “secretary” in any derrogatory sort of way– in a sense, my job is secretarial too, and I don’t by any means say that it’s easy work. I just call her “the secretary” because I don’t know her official title, nor does it matter.
What matters is what she’s supposed to get done. There are levels of difficulty– easy tasks, and hard tasks, and everything in between. There’s work, and there’s recognition, and that’s part of an admin’s job.
But her way of doing it is that every little thing has to be something big and heroic. She fixed a scheduling problem? Give me a break. I fix scheduling problems on 5 hours of sleep at 6:30AM when most people are still in bed. I bike to work, it’s 20km away from my home. I get to work tired but I still do my job– but my point is, I don’t make a big deal of it, beacuse IT IS MY JOB.
Every little thing that she gets done she has to parade it around as if she’s reinvented the lightbulb or saved the Alamo.
At first, and this was for the entire first year and then some, I just let it slide. I mean, who knows– if I’d worked in these offices as long as the secretary, maybe I’d need to find some sort of self-acknowledgement or something, maybe i’d turn out like her. In any case, it wasn’t harming the process– there was a bit more hot air flying around, but as long as it didn’t inhibit the functions of the system, I didn’t care.
But then I started to make discoveries– that the secretary was actually bottlenecking things. Certain processes– she was playing ‘gatekeeper’. And then she’s got her little posse of other admins who sort of look out for eachother, enforcing this teamplay that gives them this stranglehold over the administrative aspects of the hospital, like the mob during years of the Prohibition.
Certain tests that I’d have to order for patients– usually booking takes a half week, or maybe even a week. If I’m unlucky, an inpatient may wait up to a month for an appointment for a test or a follow up, depending on conditions. Turns out that these select admins knew ‘backdoor’ accesses for the same tests– backdoors taht could reduce the wait time of a patient to ‘next day’ status and things like that.
There are other examples, but frankly, I don’t want to address them in this particular post because that’d get me way too distracted.
These backdoors are little ‘secrets’ and ‘tricks of the trade’… phone numbers that have mysteriously disapeared from our calling directory, which get you in touch with department heads directly instead of just their voicemail boxes or fax machines (which get you forced to playing games of telephone or fax ‘tag’).
And then there are resources that only these admins know about– so basically, you want something, you ask these admins. They put themselves as the middlemen and middlewomen to everything– when really, you just need to know this one fact, for example, “where is this device in the hospital” and you could do it yourself and save paperwork and, more importantly, patient time.
All the while, these admins are leading this mafia and sucking up to the bosses, making it look as if they’ve got everything so well under control and that “if you need anything, just ask us– I’ll take care of it”.
Do you see what I’m getting at? They’re training the hospital to be addicted to this spoonfed mentality. You need something, you go to mamma. That’s it. That’s your answer for everything. And mamma decides what’s best.
But it’s not supposed to be like that, not at all. First of all, it’s inefficient– why have all this information restricted and bottlenecked so that it all has to go through them? Secondly, it exceeds their authority. It’s one thing if I don’t know where something is or how to do something and then I ASK them, as a favor, where I can find it. It’s another thing if those people are actively using this iron curtain to keep people from learning, and maintain their dependance. That seems to me like a violation not just of function but of ethics.
Anyway– I’d been working on this training manual. Like I said, it started off as something like 2 pages of randomly jotted notes. Point form stuff, just to keep a few key things down, like a few ‘backdoor’ numbers that I’d figured out . But ever since i started doing this project almost a year ago, I’ve been adding everything– until it became a manual. So now, it’s written out in good, grammatically correct english (mostly), and it’s about 40 pages, single spaced, indexed and everything.
Basically– it’s a manual that’s meant to replace me when I leave. It’s a manual that will allow anyone in the hospital to do everything that I do, as good as I do it. I think when I started out this job, I never would have made such a manual. Why? Because it would have made me unimportant if anyone else could do exactly what I’m doing. Why would someone want to teach everyone their secrets, the tricks of the their trade? Why would anyone want to give shortcuts to anyone else?
But the things I’ve seen here since I was hired have changed me, I guess. Patients deserve better than that petty, self-serving egotism. And so here’s a manual which, in honesty, is a lot easier for me to release to my bosses, since I’m going to be resigning my post here when I leave for Korea.
This manual reveals enough ‘tricks of the trade’ to bring down the hospital mob– it basically takes away all their guns.
I had this file on one of the computers at work in my private folder.
I say “had”. Because someone deleted it.
Isn’t that interesting? Isn’t that coincidental? Isn’t everything just… so conveniently against me lately?
Okay, so let’s talk conspiracy theory:
I find out sunday evening that I’ve been accused of skippnig work without calling in. Today (tuesday), I get a call at 8:30 in the morning wondering where I am, because again, I’m supposed to be at work. Which is funny– because after calling in and leaving a message a bit past midnight yesterday (monday) that I wasn’t aware of any shifts for the next few weeks, I just didn’t happen to get any calls telling me “what do you mean, you have no shifts? You’re working tomorrow!”
I guess someone ‘forgot’ to inform me, eh? FUNNY, because the last time I checked in was ONE DAY AGO.
SOP, “standard operationg procedure”, dictates though that I should check the hardcopy myself and not rely on any word of mouth for schedule updates. How convenient that the secretary had the book on hand to throw at me.
And now that I check my personal folder, not only is the training manual deleted– the recycle bin’s been emptied, and the hard drive defragged (which prevents me from performing an undelete). It’s the only file missing from my private folder. They couldn’t have opened the file– it was password encrypted– but they could see the summary and table of contents, which, from the headings, would explain a whole lot of the content of the file. It would give them a pretty good clue as to what was within it.
SOMEBODY doesn’t want me to put this manual on my boss’s desks. (I was only planning to hand it in when I resigned, but maybe I’ll advance the schedule a bit so that I can have more time to discuss it.)
Lucky for me, I keep a backup copy online.
As far as everyone at the hospital knows, I’m not going to Korea. I was going to tell people but with all the recent accusations pinned on me of neglecting my duties, I thought it was best to wait a bit and ride out a bit of the storm first. Well, I haven’t told anyone except my boss, L, beacuse she’s one of the few admins who I trust.
But, it is relatively common knowledge that I’m next in line for a promotion. This is the ‘latest’ news about me that’s public knowledge. So maybe this is making some people antsy? Because I don’t play by house rules?
As far as the admin mob knows– they couldn’t have read the training manual file. Unless they have time to crack a 12-character password. And they don’t have enough computer savy to pull something like that off (I hope). It’s funny because I mostly put the password protection in as a joke to myself when i started off… (“oooh, why don’t I put password protection on, to feel special! It makes me feel like I’m on 24 or something!”) and now, this is probably the only thing that is keeping the document out of their hands. What if they got to it first?
Well, the way things have been just swirling down the bowl, I would have guessed that a training manual would have showed up on my boss’ desk, with some different authors listed on the cover page. A pre-empt, sort of. That would be open warfare, but I’m sure they’d find some way to try and pre-empt it…. because this manual basically describes how the admin mob pulls off all theit ‘miracles’, so that we don’t have to praise and pray to them as gods anymore.
I originally hesitated– because confrontation with these sorts of people is probably going to make them grip whatever they have left with all their might, and resist the change (who would want to be told how to do something that they’ve been doing for dozens of years?) I felt hesitant to release the manual because it could affect their jobs– it could possibly get some people fired. Not that there are any names of people in the manual, but there are enough references as to how the system can be abused that one would think that I didn’t just imagine them.
It could affect their jobs mostly in that anyone could be trained to do their jobs and they’d do it easily and without the drama. Get some kid eager to work and he’d be able to handle it just by following the manual and applying a bit of elbow grease.
I worried that the manual might get someone fired, so I didn’t really think about using it as a ‘weapon’ until now. But frankly… people been fucking around with the system. The system isn’t the best, but it’s worse when people are corrupt and self serving– especially when we’re in an instittute that is supposed to serve the public.
And honestly, it’s scary. It’s fucking scary!! This is a HOSPITAL you damn savages! This isn’t a freaking poker game! This is for real! Who do you think gets hurt by all this? Patients, that’s who. At the end of the day, it always feeds back to the patients.
I’ll have my training manual bound and delivered to my boss by the end of this week. I don’t know what more I can do, I don’t have any proof that things are turning against me, and I don’t want to start rumors. I unfortunately have a bit more pride than that. But lets hope the manual is solid.
This may sound overdramatic, but patients depend on the admininstrators as much as they do the front-line healthcare workers. I think admins take it forgranted that they push papers so they think that these stupid little games don’t affect people– but they do, they REALLY do. There are consequences. It’s just that they don’t see them, or they chose to ignore them…
In the span of working at the hospital for three years, I’ve witnessed the deaths of three patients. The first one was the most traumatic for me– I didn’t know the patient. It was a violent and painful looking death.
The other two, they were friends I’d made.
I don’t work often, because I”m a part timer, but I try to get to know those patients. It’s fucking human dignity! These aren’t clients, these aren’t consumers, these are people who are here because they need help! They need us to LIVE. If a patient wants to live, then god damn it, you do your fucking best to help that person live. You can’t always win– sometimes, when the buzzer’s gonna go, that’s it– but god damn it, everything in between matters.
And some admins, you fucking savages, you think this is a game? You think just because it’s on paper or maybe that you don’t see faces that this is any less important? That a little delay here, a little delay there isn’t a big deal? How dare you!! How fucking dare you!! To think that when I started out here, I used to admire everyone who worked in hospitals– now i realize, admiration cannot just be about skills. It has to be about heart. To think that when I started this manual, I was actually not going to have it publicized because I wanted to protect you people!! And what the fuck is with this bullshit of me missing shifts?
I don’t know if the training manual will cause a bang, or if it will just make a dull thud– but we’ll see what happens when it happens. It’s the only way I can think of to help fix this all by the rules.
King Arthur once suggested: “Might For Right”.
If I can offer you one peice of advice, my friends, my audience– stay in good health. There are those who you can trust with it, but none better than yourself.