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August 26, 2011 > HealthCare... Who Cares?

HealthCare... Who Cares?

By J. Dennis Wolfe

There is one thing that is going to happen to everyone who reads this column; half of you will nod your heads in agreement and half will wonder. Let me share the last year of my life so that you will better understand the point I am making.

In April, 2010, I spent a week at Washington Hospital (WHHS). I received excellent care and changed my life to become healthier. I follow the Word of Wisdom as outlined in Doctrines and Covenants but regardless of your faith, I urge you to become more responsible for your health... take better care of yourself.

For most of January this year, my wife was a resident of WHHS and again, the care was outstanding. March through May, my stepfather was in and out with a chronic problem, that was finally resolved. My mother involuntarily had her turn in August.

My wife and mother received excellent care, much of it on the sixth floor where stroke victims generally stay. Physicians, highly visible to family members, deeply care about the well-being of their patients but other team players, some not so noticeable, are a critical and welcome resource for both family and patients. On the stroke floor Lauren Lucas and her team of CNA's, RN's and case managers, define excellence. It is difficult to appreciate the scope, coordination and expertise required of the Stroke Nurse Team and Therapy Team as they attend patients during hospitalization and prepare them - and their families - for life following discharge.

At times, I feel like a fixture at WHHS. My wife attends a monthly stroke support group and, on these occasions, we frequently dine on well-prepared and healthy food in the cafeteria. For all of these amenities and the kindness and care, we are grateful; fortunate to receive the benefits of such a dedicated team of healthcare providers.

Some of you have had similar experiences and are nodding your heads in agreement. Others are shaking their heads, thinking of unfortunate and negative experiences, maybe even a death. Please consider that the service provided at any health facility is built around a model of medical practice that, to the best of my knowledge, has not yet been perfected. In my mind, WHHS strives to do the best job possible for its community.

Having spent so much time at WHHS, I have witnessed the behavior of many visitors; let me share some of my observations. I have seen visitors sit in the cafeteria and put more food on the floor than in their stomachs. Worse, they leave the mess, which means bacteria can breed and attach to the soles of those who walk through - nurses, doctors, support people, other visitors, etc. I have also seen visitors visit a patient in groups large enough to fill a ballpark with no thought of how they will fit in a room, let alone allow space for hospital staff to enter and render care; there is a reason for the limit of two visitors per patient at any one time. Perhaps worst of all, some visitors seem to lack an understanding of basic personal hygiene and present possible contamination by their presence. Despite all of this, teams that care for patients remain dedicated to their objective and respect the desire of visitors to see loved ones.

So here is my advice. If you want the system to work best for you and your loved one, learn about what goes on at the hospital and return the respect shown by staff. Your actions and manners make a difference; be responsible for your children. I know that visiting someone requiring hospitalization is stressful - I have shared my recent experiences over the past year - I do understand. But remember, maturity and responsibility are required when at the hospital. This should be obvious. THINK!

Stay healthy. Stay tuned. Get involved. Learn what is being done. Your life now does indeed depend upon it.

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