Service of Gentle Care at the Hospital

April 18th, 2016

Categories: Doctors, Hospitals, Medical Care

Doctor greeting patient 1

If you need medical attention, it’s a blessing when you’re treated kindly. It might even make you feel–if not get–better.

Big Apple

I was taking in the scene at a bustling waiting room at New York Hospital (NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center) last week. Periodically technicians or doctors stood at the door and called a name. An elderly woman got up to eventually follow a doctor down the hall and close behind was a man.

But first the doctor greeted and shook hands with both and invited the man to join them. “Oh I’m just the escort,” said the man after acknowledging that it had been two years since he last saw the doctor. I couldn’t tell if he was trying to be funny with his escort service remark when he added, “I’m her neighbor,” which didn’t clarify much. The neighbor turned to the patient and asked if she wanted him to come with her. She said “yes,” and off they went.

The patient’s comfort was the objective. The greeting wasted little time; nobody was rushed, resulting in the best, most relaxing outcome.  Anyone in the waiting room who observed this moment was charmed.

Bean Town

Faulkner Hospital

Faulkner Hospital

After an accident where she broke two fingers, a friend needed an operation and was elated at the care she received. This was at Brigham and Woman’s Faulkner Hospital in Boston, known by the locals as Faulkner Hospital. For starters, still shocked by the fall and in pain, she appreciated that the doctor’s office called her to set up the appointment and gave her the next available date at the location nearest her home. Philip E.  Blazar, M.D., her doctor, was forthright, offering to show her as much as she wanted to see/learn about the breaks and was undaunted by peripheral health issues that posed potential hurdles.

Smiling nurseShe knew precisely what to expect because the pre-op team, from surgeon and nurses to fellows, anesthesiologist and assistants, explained every step and reassured her.

Residents came to her room one at a time, introduced themselves, explained their function and confirmed that she understood what they said. The person charged with making her cast did it quickly, with concern for her mobility, and the outcome was pristine. She left after the operation with all follow-up appointments set with the surgeon and a variety of occupational therapists.

Hospital staff was polite, detail-oriented and kind. Even the cleaning crew seemed happy. On every visit, if my friend or her husband passed anyone related to the hospital in a hallway, they’d ask if they might direct them to their destination. The receptionist seemed to keep track of patients to send husbands, wives or friends, coming separately, to the right floor.

Do you agree that how you’re treated is almost as important as the skill of the people who treat you? Have you observed or experienced similar recent examples to share?

Doctor greeting patient 2

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14 Responses to “Service of Gentle Care at the Hospital”

  1. Mervyn Kaufman Said:

    My hospitalization, here in NYC, has been confined to the Langone/NYU Medical Center. The last time I was there was for a relatively simple procedure, but it involved my arrival on a Thursday morning and departure about 26 hours later.

    During that time I had the procedure, followed by a dinner meal and a breakfast. Overnight I was visited more than once—by a physician, my cardiologist and at least one nurse. My wife came by to retrieve me before noon the following day. I left the hospital feeling that I’d been extremely well cared for.

    A month or so later, I received a statement from my insurance carrier. It was long and extensively detailed. My main concern was the bottom line—and I was relieved to see that my insurer had paid it in its entirety. Even so, the number has stayed in my mind and, since then, given me tremors.

    Reason: it was in excess of $101,000.

  2. EAM Said:

    It reminded me of this segment on NBC. Thought it was interesting. http://www.nbcnews.com/nightly-news/video/this-hospital-guarantees-good-service-or-your-money-back-668051011999

    Also, when my Mom was at Hospital for Special Surgery, she had great service. Nurse would pick up the page within 30 seconds- 1 minute.

  3. Jeanne Byington Said:

    Merv,

    That’s almost $4,000/hour. Trust dinner was toothsome. Sad thing is that the nurses and physicians aren’t the ones taking home the big bucks. I imagine that professional insurance and pharma get chunks of it and the cost of expensive testing equipment and, of late, advertising, much of the rest.

    I don’t know what my friend’s operation and PT cost–as this just happened she probably doesn’t yet have the bill.

    Speaking of bills, I find them harder and harder to decipher. The reason it would be important to know that you’ve been charged for what you used is that I think that over your lifetime, you can only spend $X amount for hospitalization on most insurance plans. So while for now you’re understandably relieved that you didn’t have to pay a cent, it’s nevertheless important to confirm that the bill is accurate. The other way to avoid being stuck with a bill way in the future should you run out of coverage is to, as one of my doctor’s receptionists used to call out as you left the office, “Stay away from doctors!”

  4. Jeanne Byington Said:

    EAM,

    I am feeling better by the minute, reading all of these great examples of care at different hospitals.

    Thanks for the link to the NBC segment about a hospital that doesn’t charge if the service isn’t good. I’ll take a look! All the hospitals mentioned in this post are, so far, without worry in this regard.

  5. Lucrezia Said:

    Mount Sinai, Northern Westchester, Phelps Memorial, and Presbyterian deserve A+, either from personal experience, or from witnessing treatment of others. There are horror stories, but in fairness to these institutions, they may have cleaned up their act in the stretch between now and when such episodes took place.

    Reminder: Primary Day tomorrow, Tuesday April 19th. Polls throughout the state open from 6:00 a.m. to 9:00 pm. Only registered Democrats and Republicans may participate. If you feel you are eligible, but your name can’t be found, immediately contact either the Board of Elections or appeal to a presiding local judge who may issue a court order to entitle you to vote. Your election inspectors will direct you to the closest one.

  6. Jeanne Byington Said:

    Lucrezia,

    A hospital hires so many people that it’s impossible for human resources to get every person right. When they don’t, most don’t know about it. That’s because patients are at the mercy of staff and because family members are usually not with them 24/7, nobody dares report them. The result: They continue to endanger patients because they are inadequately trained, angry, sadistic or nasty. A friend was in an excellent hospital for almost a week and while 90 percent of those he encountered were topnotch, the person encountered instances of all of the above.

    The problem with a hospital’s encouraging patients or family/friends filling a suggestion box with anonymous tips about such people is that some might write malicious info that isn’t true. In most cases, however, such a method of communicating, even if primitive, might be a good idea as it might discourage the terrible treatment in the first place.

    Thanks for the reminder to vote. I can’t wait! This is the first time in a while I have been over-the-top excited about a candidate. Among a random selection of people–statistically insignificant–interviewed this morning by a radio reporter in the field I was surprised by the number that “didn’t care about any of the candidates,” and therefore wouldn’t vote. This crop of candidates is certainly not the “same old, same old,” in many cases. I wonder who these citizens have in mind as worth a trip to the polls.

  7. Martha Takayama Said:

    The episode of the older neighbor supporting a fellow neighbor is heartening as is the doctor’s courteous and sensitive handling of the situation. I have heard of community efforts in other Manhattan neighborhoods that work at keeping track of and attending to older or elderly neighbors, especially those living alone. They seem a positive and practical development especially as our population ages.

    I never forget the thoughts of one of my professors who was also an interpreter at a world-renowned hospital: She said that mind-set and outlook played an enormous role in recuperatuin and survival of all patients including those with the most dire of diagnoses.

    Certainly the positive feelings, sense of confidence as well as competence in one’s caregivers can have only myriad beneficial effects on the outcome of a patient’s treatment. There is constant need to emphasize these values. Personally they have been of maximum importance to me in recovery. I am eternally grateful to health care providers like those described in this post.

  8. Jeanne Byington Said:

    Martha,

    I love hearing about the community efforts to track and attend to older neighbors who live alone. Once with a friend in the emergency room, I saw a frail person languishing in a bed. A much younger woman sat by her side and held her hand. Nurses kept asking the healthy woman questions to which she’d say, “I’m just her neighbor.” I was so impressed. My mother had neighbors like this.

    When a person is focusing on healing or feeling better, stress and anger at being treated poorly can’t do anything good for their condition.

  9. hb Said:

    I could not agree with you more. How you are treated makes a big difference psychologically, and perhaps even physically, in whether and how quickly you get well.

    I’ve been extremely lucky in the very high quality of care I’ve received over the years. With a few exceptions, such as a sadistic nurse’s aide, a bill-padding doctor, and more recently an occasional, harassed, computer-tyrannized distant specialist, the people who have dealt with my ailments have been genuine, involved and supportive.

    My appointment this afternoon was a good example. For some time, I have been seeing the same well-known specialist annually, and more often once or twice. There are always people in his reception area, but seldom have I had to wait more than a half an hour to see the doctor. When I called last Thursday to make an appointment, his nurse, Jane, recognized my voice and said, “Mr. B. how are you.” I felt most flattered as I had not seen her boss in a year, and we chatted for a minute or two. Then I said, “Fine. I just need to make a routine appointment. No rush.” Jane said, “I can squeeze you in next Monday if you want?”

    I had to wait longer than usual today, but I had a good book, and Jane in her typical efficient way made the morass of computerization paperwork the government now requires seem less threatening which was a relief. The doctor was his usual dour, but thorough, undemonstrative self, but to my further astonishment, his parting words were, “You look great! See you next year.” Jane’s parting words were, “Do give my best to your wife!”

    I’d go back there anytime.

  10. Jeanne Byington Said:

    hb,

    I have always been anxious before any kind of checkup. Being treated in the way that you describe your greeting by Jane at the doctor today makes you remember these lovely moments, not any of the more uncomfortable ones. Even the doctor was in a good mood to notice that you look well and mention it!

    There’s a way to make a patient feel welcome without pandering even if you don’t remember them from Adam. It takes a second to check who is coming that day and to highlight the names of people who have been to the office before. Once a person signs in or speaks his/her name, how hard would it be to say, “How have you been since we saw you last?”

  11. Cathy Said:

    Dr. Blazar is the best! His staff is awesome! I had a hand operation with him several years ago and he and his staff made the experience the best it could be–there is both medical training and personal training that takes place in his office. Professional care and patient dignity are what you can expect.

  12. Jeanne Byington Said:

    Cathy,

    Wish we could clone Dr. Blazar who clearly is a marvel who understands far more than how to fix broken fingers and hands.

    Dignity–that’s an apt word that is missing from my post and from the vision and implementation of far too many in business, whether in health care, politics or retail, to name a few industries. I think people forget the Golden Rule and figure they’ll never feel vulnerable until something happens to them and only then do they.

  13. Angela Said:

    Your friend is a pleasure to work with, and I’m very happy to see her experience at Faulkner Hospital documented. It is always satisfying to hear about positive experiences for patients seen in our hospital, especially when the experience is positive across several difference disciplines and along the continuum of care.

  14. Jeanne Byington Said:

    Angela,

    Although the work hospitals do is far more critical than most businesses, these examples, where institutions of healing recognize that they need to provide more than the skill of talented doctors, nurses and therapists, makes all of us happy and relieved. Hospital administrators see that just as a restaurant can’t serve amazing food in a surly manner and expect to flourish, neither can they ignore the whole package. Hallelujah! I once worked at an angry place where colleagues roamed the halls with sad faces. Believe me: It’s much nicer for staff to be surrounded by cheery people all of whom want to pitch in and help.

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