Saturday I was play’n games with friends. I got in a spirited conversation with a friend about UW hospital. They work there and think it’s the best place in PNW for heart surgery. I was an impatient there for a month and feel VERY different. I wasn’t really quantifying my reasons in the dispute. My month stay there was in 2009. Just long enough ago that I couldn’t grasp the reasons spare of the moment. Oh and It was so bad I was trying to expunge the memories from my brain.
This morning in the shower the reasons came back tome. I’m glad they did. I remembered I said I wanted to research hospitals before I needed one again. Now my surgery at UW went off without a hitch. However the type of surgery I had required rehab. The type of rehab kept me in the hospital for a month. A month of my life I will NEVER get back!
You know how on Grey’s Anatomy it’s all clean and one person per room. Well naturally that’s what I envisioned my hospital stay at UW would be like that. NO it was NOTHING like that! It was two people to a room. Don’t get me started on privacy! Oh but wait the room was divided by a stained, flimsy piece of material. HIPPA WHAAT?! HIPPA WHO?!! Let me tell you about the woman in the bed next to me. She had a reoccurring growth type of cancer. She was at UW for her fifth surgery to remove a growth around the lower part of her spine. The surgery was being followed up by Chemo that the nurses came to infuse into her about 3 pm every day. Y-e-a-h she told me none of this.
My favorite memory about my roommate happened about 6 am every morning. She would poop in her bedside commode chair. Yeah that flimsy did a lot of good. I HEARD and SMELLED the whole thing. I asked the nurse if they had air freshener. She said no but there was a fan in the top corner of the room she could turn if I wanted. Yes PLEASE do. Here’s the KICKER. W-a-i-t f-o-r i-t… YUP the fan didn’t work. She told me she would put in a request for a new fan with maintenance. Then tapped me on the leg and told me I’d get use to the smell and giggled. Yes friends she said that. Oh and like everything else ran by the stat it took forever to get a new fan from maintenance. So poop happened every day at 6 am for the week and a half we were in the same room. Good times. Oh and NO I did NOT use the bedside commode to go to the bathroom. I was walking with a walker in 09. I used the bathroom we shared. Which is another story. Let’s stay on poop for a moment.
New paragraph same story. Let’s just air it out. It was a Wednesday Morning. I’ll NEVER forget it. I was RIPPED out of my sleep to this OVERWELMING smell of POO! It wasn’t my neighbor’s flavor. It was WORST! What could possibly be worst then someone pooping next to you, you ask? Bawl programs. This happens TWICE a week, Wednesday and Sunday mornings. The nurses give enemas to the newly injured paraplegic and quadgapelegic patients.
Let me tell you about the bathroom in our room. It was teeny tiny. The hospital walker WOULDN’T fit in the bathroom with me at the same time. Instead of going to the bathroom with the door open, I had Albert bring my smaller walker from home. You could barely BARELY fit me and my walker in it. Ok so you know how a gas station bathroom is concrete floors with tile walls not inviting at all. Welcome to my world at UW. It always smelled of pee. Even after the so called cleaning crew cleaned it. My roommate’s daughter-in-law took a sanitary wipe to the walls. Yup it came up black. I never saw the UW crew clean the walls in a month. No keep in mind people this is a bathroom in the rehab wing. If you couldn’t fit a walker in it and shot the door you were SOL if you were in a wheelchair!!
Oh and changing of the bed sheets was to happen every three days. That was as per their rules. On the fifth day I had to ask repeatedly if they would change my sheets. After I learned you had to be your own advocate I would bug them every third day. Sometimes they would sometimes they would wait two additional days.
Oh and what about roommates number three? She was a CHAIN smoker. But you say she couldn’t smoke in your room. You would be correct. She couldn’t smoke in the room we shared. However have you ever spent any time with a chain smoker? Her clothes, purse, suitcase, skin and hair reeked of smoke. Yeah but the curtain between us surely must have helped RIGHT? PLEASE! Before day two days ended it REEKED of smoke. What’s worst she would go outside to smoke several times daily. Then walk back in the room with a huge wave of FRESH smoke.
Now mind you I had just had a surgery. The doctors had just insert a titanium, hockey puck sized medicine pump in my abdomen. Then they treaded a catheter from it around my waist and up my Spinal Canal. Where it currently sits in my body today. YES you guessed it! I was in TIP TOP shape!
I was complaining about my new smoker to Amos one day. He was another patient on my wing. Amos was my age and a new inductee into paraplegic land. He fell in his home shower and broke his spine. He asked me why I didn’t have my own room. I was like WHAAT! STOP IT! STOP IT! Come to find out he had his own room. So the last week I was there I had my own room. Get this my room was on the opposite side of the floor as the enemas. Wednesday and Sunday were smell free!
By now many of you are probably wondering how the nurses fit in to all this. If you are like me you probably think they would be a fortress in a time of distress. NO!! NOT AT ALL!! First of all the head nurse HATED her commute from Gig Harbor to Seattle, HATED her job and HATED you. Didn’t care if you didn’t want a male aide to help you in the bathroom. You got who you got. She rotated the nurses the same way. There were three shifts. You literally could not have the same nurse in a week. The problem is you never get comfortable. Each nurse approaches things differently. Oh and some smoke and comes directly from their smoke breaks to you. I know RIGHT! I asked pleaded with the head nurse to have the same three nurses. This was the same nurse that I requested for a single room or at least a non-smoking roommate. To both request she resounded with a NO!
She also stop answering my pages. You weren’t allowed to go to the bathroom un-assisted. A couple of times my roommate saw that no one was coming for me so she rang her call button. When the head nurse would come she would turn to me and say she needs you…
My Madura came to visit and I told her what was going on. She reminded me the SQUEEKY wheel gets the grease and everybody has a BOSS! Armed with those words and Mama Johnny’s blood coursing thru my veins it WAS ON!
That day I found out who the Lead nurses boss was. Then called her and left a message giving her the rough draft of the issues. Oh and yes I used my BEST Caucasian vernacular! I WAAASN’T PLAYY’N! TIME TO DO DIS! She came to my cell and met with me. She apologized for everything. She said what I experience was against policy. I was moved to a single occupant room before dinner. Then she assigned me the same three nurses for the duration of my stay. The next time I spoke to the Head nurse was to say goodbye leaving to go home.
What’s sad is boss lady only dealt with my issue. They just moved someone new in with the smoker. Wouldn’t it have been better to put the smoker in a solo room? It wasn’t just the smoke. She dropped F BOMB’S like every other second. Show was one of THOSE people that used the F word as a noun, pro noun, adjective and verb. Oh and other patients complained they were still having the rotating nurse issue. Oh and did I tell you the nurses also HATED how the Head nurse rotated them.
It should have never gotten to that point. I SHOULDN’T have had to raise Cain to be treated with dignity. Oh and you know how much my month of TERROR at UW cost my insurance? Over $100,000! Of which we had to pay 20%.
At the end of the day it goes back to the following saying…You are only as good as your WEAKEST member. The weakest member of the UW hospital really wasn’t the awful Head nurse. It was the cleaning practices. Dirty rooms, not changing patient’s sheets every three days, Dirty and flimsy curtain separating patients stained and tattered hospital clothes etc. I felt gross for a month.
All said and done the best advice I can give is this…Don’t decide on a hospital based SOLELY on a doctor’s criteria. Visit the hospital first. Get into the belly of the BEAST! Ask to see where recovery is. Read reviews as well as hospital patient reviews. Talk to patients. You are paying for their services. Require from them the same standards you do from a fine restaurant. Would you pay for bad food, bad service with a dirty kitchen?? I’m just say’n…