With the recent ‘outbreak’ of swine flu in the media, one of the nice changes at the hospital is that nobody’s coming into the ER because they’re afraid of being infected. I swear, you’d think that we were stocking up on shotguns and chainsaws because we handle infections at the MCH with such prejudice that you’d think that it was the forerunner for an undead uprising or something. The place has become, frankly, kinda militant in the way it’s handling quarantine procedures.
And that’s not necessarily a bad thing– when it comes to something like this, it’s good to tighten up on protocol, right.
But here’s the thing. The Children’s isn’t the first hospital I work at; in the past, I’ve worked at the Montreal Chest Institute, and things there are different. We were constantly dealing with patients who had all the popular infectious stuff that you might or might not’ve heard of, such as c-diff, HIV, TB, SARS… whatever. It was another day for us. Everyone from kitchen staff and houskeeping to coordinators, nurses and doctors were trained in the use of isolation equipment, that is to say, the face shields, the gowns, the gloves, the masks. It wasn’t a big deal, really.
And I understand that it’s new for some of these people I’m working with but God! Stop being such whiners! I work most closely with nurses and other coordinators, and I hear them bitching the most about all the procedures. Come on! The procedures are there for your safety. Are you really going to bitch about having to put all this stuff on?
Okay, that’s fair– it is extra work to do all this. So fine, you’re allowed to hate the procedures.
But come on– don’t start treating the patients as if they’re diseased.
Regardless of wheter or not they are– you treat them like humans first and as patients second, I say. And that sounds corny but I think that the moment you stop treating people like people, it’s time for you to get out of this line of work.
I got pissed off, just internally, at the main coordinator, the other day when I was the fasttrack coordinator. I think I may’ve mentioned her in the past– she’s the one with the witchy laugh who I think is kinda bossy and bends the rules for herself a bit too much. Anyway, a family came in, and they were flagged as potential swing flu carriers– but they didn’t speak any English, and we couldn’t bring them into triage because if they were infected, they’d contaminate the area and prevent any further triages from taking place.
So, the procedure that was decided was that they’d go straight to a room and then they’d have their registration proceduers done there.
Now, technically, this is all the main coordinator’s job. But she was raising a whole stink and bitch fest ( a loud one at that) about how she’d never been fitted for an N95 mask, which is a special kind of filtered mask you have to wear when dealing with this kind of infectious disease. It was a bit “this is stupid!” rant and meanwhile, this was all done in front of the patients. Now, I realize they don’t speak English, but as health care professionals, is it really appropriate to start spazzing out in a “WTF are we supposed to do?” sorta way in front of people who are coming to you for help? God, woman, get a fucking grip!
And I realize that with CNN reporting the deathcount in mexico over a hundred, people are worried about this. I’m not saying that this isn’t something to take seriously– but it’s a point where the emotional content of our reaction to it should be put aside. We need to put on our game face, even if we don’t know what’s going on.
I just happened to be in the triage area while this ‘discussion’ was going on and she was refusing to perform the registration so I just volunteered.
“I know how to use the N95’s,” I said. “I’ll do it.”
So I took over. The nurses wanted that family out of the waiting hall so I got them out of there, opened up the isolation corridor, and took care of it. I don’t speak a word of spanish beyond no hablo espanol. I got the registration done by running the 20 meter dash back and forth between their room and the computers, where I enlisted the help of google translate. Then I got all the nurses coordinated with a translator from one of the other floors, I took care of the triage, I had it handed off to the doctor, I pulled up the old charts– and you know what. I treated those people like basic humans.
I think it’s perfectly normal that if you put someone in an isolation situation they feel exactly like that– isolated.
And I think it’s perfectly normal that when you take health professionals who have never worked with dangerous contagious stuff, they’re be scared too. But man.
I guess what I’m getting at is that if you don’t want to deal with infectious diseases, fine: you don’t have to if you haven’t been trained properly, and if you’re not comfortable. But that’s not what I’m addressing. What i’m addressing is that so many of my coworkers have a lack of game face. I’ve had other coords and nurses bitching at me for two days straight, not because of anything I’ve done, but because of the situation. Just deal with it! Vent in a bar after work! But when you’re at work, people depend on you not just for medical treatments but for peace of mind, and nothing breaks that magic like someone who displays no confidence in themselves or their team.
On the plus side, the doctors seem to be really on the ball and for that I’m really glad. There are a lot of times where I’ll say a day gets bad and one or two super-doctors lead the ER, or that nurses dragged the whole department through by getting shitloads of shit done in record time, or that coordinators ran the show by making things work in impossible conditions– really, it depends on what the weakest link of the system is in the day, and someone has to answer that call.
The past few days, the entire system has been weak but the doctors are the ones who pulled everyone through, imo. Props to them.