Let’s Hope They’re A Better Nurse Than A Communicator

, , , , , | Healthy | June 28, 2020

I work at a hospital in the central supply department. We carry just about everything: patient care items such as deodorant or slippers, first aid supplies like bandages or gauze, large items like crutches or commodes, and everything in between. Basically, if the nurses carry it in the supply closet, it probably came from us.

One night, I get a call from a nurse on the fourth floor.

Me: “Central Supply, this is [My Name].”

Nurse: “Yeah… is this Central Supply?”

I can feel my eye twitch.

Me: “Yes. Can I help you?”

Nurse: “I’m looking for… a… thing.”

Me: “Okay. What kind of thing?”

Nurse: “It’s plastic. It comes in a package.”

Me: *Putting on my best customer service voice* “That’s about 75% of our inventory. Can you tell me what it’s used for?”

Nurse: “It’s plaaaastic. It comes in a paaaackage.”

Me: “IV tubing?”

Nurse: “No.”

Me: “Catheter?”

Nurse: “No.”

Me: “Oxygen tubing?”

Nurse: “No. It’s plastic. It comes in a package.”

This goes on for a few minutes with me trying to guess the item or trying to get her to describe it to me. The nurse keeps giving me the same answer; only the pronunciation of the words “plastic” and “package” changes.

Me: “Do you have an empty package I could look at?”

Nurse: “No.”

Me: “Is there more than one in the package?”

Nurse: “It’s plastiiiiic. It comes in a packaaaaaage.”

Me: “I’m sorry. I don’t know what you’re asking for. You’re welcome to come down and look around. Or maybe you could ask one of the other nurses.”

Nurse: “I—”

Me: “I’m getting a call on the other line from the ER. I have to get it. Let me know if you find out what it’s called. Okay. Bye.”

Fortunately, the call from the ER is an easy one. But as soon as I get off the phone with them, I receive another call from the fourth floor.

Me: “Central Supply, this is [My Name].”

Charge Nurse: “Hi, this is [Charge Nurse] from [department].”

Me: “Hi. How can I help you?”

Charge Nurse: “Do you carry water pitcher liners?”

A light bulb goes off and my customer service filter vanishes.

Me: “Oh! Is that what she wanted?!”

Charge Nurse: *Chuckling* “Yeah.”

Me: “Yes. We have those; I’ll bring some right up.”

Not the strangest call I had while I worked there, but definitely the most frustrating.

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When A Simple Salad Isn’t, Part 2

, , , , , , , | Right | June 26, 2020

We tend to get a lot of delivery orders to the local hospital around the corner. It’s usually not a problem, but we have been having some issues with entitled and dishonest nurses.

Today, I get a call for four orders for four different nurses, with four salads: a Mediterranean, two Greeks, and a side garden salad. I make the salads, label the boxes, and bag them.

About an hour and a half later, I get another call. This time it’s a different nurse than the one that placed the order.

Nurse #2: “Yeah, we’re missing a salad.”

Me: “I’m sorry about that. There were four salads for four orders, correct?”

Nurse #2: “Yeah. But [Nurse #3] was supposed to have a Greek salad, but I’m standing here looking at a garden. I’ve got her ticket right here.”

Me: “Okay, let me go back over the orders and make sure—”

Nurse #2: *Interrupting me* “I don’t know what everyone else got, just that [Nurse #3] didn’t get the right one! She’s pissed off that she paid $11 for a salad and [entrée] and you guys messed it up! And your delivery driver! He forgot the salads the first time when he brought the hot food and had to go back. So this is now the second time! We just want a credit or something because this is getting ridiculous.”

Me: “I’m sorry to hear about the delivery issue, and I’ll have a word with the boss about it. I can give you the credit. May I have a phone number so that the next time [Nurse #3] calls, she can use it?”

Nurse #2: *Snapping* “I don’t know her number! Here, let me transfer you to her.”

The phone slams and hold music plays. By this point, I’ve had two tables sat in my section, so I manage to step aside to let them know I’ll be right over. After a few minutes, someone takes the phone off of hold.

Nurse #4: “[Hospital], how can I help you?”

I internally sigh.

Me: “Hey, I’m from [Restaurant] and I’m trying to issue a credit to [Nurse #3].”

Nurse #4: “Okay, what do you need?”

Me: “I just need a phone number for [Nurse #3].”

Nurse #4: “Oh! The department number is [unfamiliar number]. Will that work?”

I know that the nurses switch around a lot.

Me: “Is that [Nurse #3]’s usual department?”

Nurse #4: “Oh, no. She’s just filling in. Let me transfer you to her.”

I’m about to start banging my head on the desk when [Nurse #3] finally picks up.

Me: “Hey, I’m calling from [Restaurant] and there was an issue with your salad? I’ve been asked to give you a credit, but I need your number so that someone else doesn’t claim your credit.”

Nurse #3: *Flatly* “It’s [cell number].”

Me: “Okay, great! I’ve issued a credit for you, so when you’d like to use it, give us this number and it should pop right up. Is there anything else needed today?”

Nurse #3: *Snarkily* “So when’s the money going to go back on my card?”

I stop.

Me: “That would be a refund. I was told that you were looking for a credit for the salad.”

Nurse #3: “Yeah, so?”

Me: “I can issue one or the other, but not both. Which one would you rather have?”

Nurse #3: *Deep sigh* “I guess the refund, then!”

I delete the credit and void her payment. I then explain the basic spiel about how the refund may show up on her bank account and that the charge should just drop off.

Nurse #3: “Well, is that it?”

Me: “Actually, out of curiosity, did the order with [entrée and a side salad] get everything correctly?”

Nurse #3: “Yeah, she got a free upgrade to a Greek salad! She said it was delicious!”

We hang up and I go let my boss know about what had happened. He listens for a while.

Boss: “From now on, bag each salad separately, with each hospital person’s name on it. Also, go put a note on the department’s account that a refund was received on this date, for [refund amount], and to whom. Sounds to me like they may try to get a credit for the salad or the whole order.

Sure enough, a couple of days later, they tried to convince the cashier that they were due a credit for all four orders, as “none of them” received the correct salads!

When A Simple Salad Isn’t

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No Particular Emphasis On “Assisted” Living

, , , , , , , | Healthy | June 24, 2020

A few years ago, I — a sixty-four-year-old male — had a bad bicycle accident. The damages included a concussion, broken right collarbone, broken right elbow, four broken ribs on my right side, and three fractures in my left pelvis; if you can explain the physics of that, I’m all ears.

Four days in the hospital got me stabilized, but then I needed rehab and was sent to a nursing home. That’s when the fun began.

I was transported to the home at about 6:00 pm. After intake, I struggled for a few hours to find a comfortable position and finally got to sleep, only to be awakened at 11:30 pm (!) to have them take pictures of my bare backside to see if I had bedsores already. Two days later, I was awakened at 4:45 am (!!) because the traveling technician was going to take my blood and wanted to get done early.

I was getting both physical and occupational therapy from the same outsourced company. The routine was to do the PT first at one end of the building and then get wheeled back to my room for the OT. The third day, the occupational therapist was taking me back to my room and one of the physical therapists came with us. The two men were discussing a barbeque they were going to have that weekend.

No problem, except that when we got to my room they stopped in the hallway and talked over me for five minutes. I called out the OT when we were alone; to his credit, he apologized and said that I wasn’t their typical patient, meaning I had no dementia.

I was on a schedule where I was given two assisted showers a week. This wouldn’t have been too bad, except that the home had no air conditioning and we had a heatwave in the nineties the second week. I was waiting for the aide to take me when I noticed five young women hanging around the door to my room. When I asked, they told me they were going to watch my shower as part of their training. I informed them that no, they weren’t, so they waited outside the shower area with my wheelchair.

By that point, I could walk slowly with a cane, so after getting dressed, I limped to my chair with help from the aide. One of the women was standing behind the chair with her hands on the grips. I let go of the cane, grabbed a handrail on the chair, and almost fell on my face as the chair moved out from under me! She hadn’t set the brakes on the wheels and hadn’t held on to the chair. I was lucky there was no damage but it hurt like crazy.

In addition to the therapy for my hip, I needed to wait until the swelling in my broken elbow went down before surgery. When it was ready for the procedure, I went to the hospital having had no food or drink for over twelve hours. I was lying on the gurney about to go into the prep room when I was approached by a young doctor I’d never met. She wanted me to give her permission to perform a “nerve block” on me after the operation. In her telling, this would keep me from feeling pain afterward.

This had not been discussed before, I had no knowledge of what a nerve block entailed, it sounded dangerous, and this person was a total stranger. She was persistent, I’ll give her that, but she finally took the hint when I told her to get the h*** away from me.

The surgery went fine and I had no real discomfort afterward, even to the point where I never filled the prescription for the opioid painkiller I was given. So much for the nerve block. I was not, however, forewarned about another side effect of the anesthesia. It is common that urination is inhibited after the procedure, and by 6:00 pm, I was in real pain.

The nurses’ aides didn’t have the authority to give me a catheter and had to get permission. An hour later, I got my first experience with the process. Then, they took it out. And a few hours later, the pressure built up again.

This time, they didn’t want to put the tube back in; their training said they had to wait four hours. My wife had to yell that she’d take me to the emergency room and file charges against them before they fixed the problem. This time they left it in, and by the following evening, the plumbing worked.

As to the home itself, my stay confirmed my fear of the places, even without a contagion situation. Most of the other long-term residents had some degree of dementia and there was lots of moaning and shouting at all hours. And the food was just as bland as the stereotype; luckily, my wife brought me meals a couple of times a day — including the occasional illicit cold beer.

I got out three days after the elbow surgery and was able to navigate my house, including the stairs, immediately. In another week, I rarely used the cane and have a story for my grandkids.

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A Vampire Has Better Bedside Manner

, , , , , | Healthy | June 19, 2020

As part of my work’s health insurance, all employees need to get basic blood work done each year. It’s a minor inconvenience, and it’s fully paid for by the company. However, I have a bad needle phobia. The year before last, my best friend came with me so I could hold his hand. Last year, I decided to go alone, since I was going to the same phlebotomist and she was very nice, but I ended up having a low-key panic attack and tremors for the rest of the day regardless.

This year, I go to a new clinic and need a bit more blood drawn for my personal doctor, so my best friend thankfully agrees to let me crush his hand again. We’re seen to quickly enough and go into the room to wait. Then, the phlebotomist enters and the trouble starts.

My friend is sitting on my right side and has his phone and earbuds out so he can distract me with silly videos. The phlebotomist — who entered from the door on my left, mind — crosses over to my right side and looks down at him.

Phlebotomist: “You need to move.”

Me: “Sorry, I’m actually more comfortable having my blood drawn from my left arm. I have a severe needle phobia and tend to tense up.”

She just huffs and moves to my left. She ties the rubber cuff around my arm VERY TIGHTLY and I feel my fingers start to tingle and throb in a matter of seconds, so I reach over to loosen it just a little bit.

Phlebotomist: “Don’t touch that!”

Me: “It was too tight! My hand was going numb!”

She huffs again and then comes up to my side and grabs my arm. I immediately jerk forward and tense up, and the phlebotomist pushes me back against the chair.

Phlebotomist: “You need to stay still or I’m going to hurt you.”

I was so keyed up I could only whimper, so I squeezed my friend’s hand for all it was worth after he passed me the earbuds and started playing a video that I think had cats being cute or something.

The phlebotomist stuck me and I whimpered some more while my leg bounced with nervous energy. I heard her tutting over the noise of the video, like I was some rambunctious child, and the draw felt like it took forever. Eventually, all the vials were filled and the phlebotomist dismissed us with the scowl she’d had on the entire time.

My friend had to lead me out of the clinic, as I was dizzy from stress by that point, and it took a good few minutes for him to bring me down enough to be safe to drive home.

People like that phlebotomist are part of the reason I developed this phobia in the first place, and she certainly did her part to make sure I don’t conquer it any time soon!

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A Birthday Balm For Your Birthday Break

, , , , , | Healthy | June 16, 2020

I have just fractured my wrist for the third time. Just for you curious people, I was rollerskating and I fell backward and landed on it. We get to the ER and, lo and behold, the same ER doctor that assisted us last time is the one assisting us now, so my parents chat and catch up a bit while the ER doctor examines my wrist.

Then, this conversation happens. It is the seventh of December.

ER Doctor: *After asking some questions* “So, when is your birthday?”

Me: *Eyeroll* “The fourteenth of December.”

ER Doctor: “Oh, happy early birthday!”

Me: “Thanks.”

I’m thinking that my party is tomorrow and requires some physical work and I am just worried I can’t do it. They confirm that my wrist is broken with X-rays and such, and all I want to do is go home, but they still have to put a cast on my wrist. 

All of a sudden, some nurses come in, and they have some little presents with them: a toy car, a lavender chapstick, and some other goodies. 

Nurses: “We heard it was your birthday next week and we thought we could start it off with some little presents.”

My Parents & Me: “Oh, my goodness, thank you so much!”

I was so happy I just sat there, shocked.

I still have the lip balm to this day, and it just reminds me how awesome nurses and healthcare people can be. They literally took time out of their day just to make a sad almost-fourteen-year-old happy.

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