When people think of hospitals, they usually refer to two sources.
One of them, although not necessarily the first thing they think of, are popular media sources. People used to love ER when it was still airing. And then there’s a whole string of others– Boston Hope, Scrubs, Grey’s Anatomy, House, HawthoRNe, and Nurse Jackie.
The second source of hospital impressions that people have come from their own experiences. They’ve been in hospitals, either as patients or for other patients. Lets not even get into the part about seeing loved ones pass away or anything.
My point is this: people, when they think about hospitals, they usually think of nurses and doctors. But they seldom, if ever, think about the support staff that goes around and makes sure that the logistics of the working environment for the medical staff is in order.
We had a couple of patients today who came into the waiting room with infectious diseases. Chicken pox was one, and that’s a pretty big deal in a children’s hospital; the other was impetigo, which is something I had the pleasure of catching back when I was working in Emergency. Neither of these things are at all things that you would ever want to catch if you could at all avoid it.
Who sanitizes the waiting room though? Simple things like that– how do you get infected droplets out of fabric? Doctors don’t do that. Neither do nurses. Housekeeping does– and they do it systematically, as a team, and they do it well.
Doctors and nurses get patients out of this hospital one at a time– if you had no doctors for a day, probably a fair amount of people would die. But, pound for pound, go a day without the houskeeping staff of a hospital? Maybe nobody would die immediately, but the actual costs of problems indirectly as a result of increased cross contamination would be huge.
But most people don’t even say hi to housekeeping.