Tips for Choosing a Hospital
Intensive Care Unit or "I See You"
Even if you've never personally been a patient in a hospital, you likely know someone else who has. Whether you are a patient or a visitor, however, there are many things that are important to notice—from the reception area to the surgical center. Not all hospitals are created equal.
You can learn a lot about a hospital from the first minute you walk in the doors. For those who have spent many hours there, either as a patient or a visitor, there's plenty of time to look around and make some important observations.
Take note of the way the receptionists act when you walk in. Do they look up and smile when you arrive? Is their phone ringing off the hook unanswered? Are they paying attention to your needs, or are they chatting with their coworkers?
Once you've been shown the way to the admissions department, watch how the staff greets you and how they handle the massive amount of paperwork involved. Is there an organized system in place to notify patients of their turn to do paperwork?
Do they have a respectful attitude and take care to preserve your identity? Do they care about customer service and care about how their hospital is perceived? The attitude of the admissions staff can often indicate the underlying philosophy of the institution.
Make sure you're pleased with how you're treated when you first arrive. If not, turn around and go somewhere else.
Most modern hospitals use an automated process to get you into the database through which they can keep track of every action that goes forward from admission through discharge. Even in an emergency, staff members collect your insurance numbers, medications list, allergies and ask about prior ailments and past hospitalizations and surgeries.
Many hospitals offer a data entry system where the patient enters their own information through a computer terminal. Later in the admissions office, staff will verify the paperwork and have you sign the stack of forms and releases. Most facilities attach a patient identification wristband to help ensure your safety while in the hospital.
Good hospitals will check this wristband every time they interact with the patient to give medications or schedule procedures to be sure they have the right person.
The Power of Observation
While we waited to be called to the X-ray area, we watched housekeepers buffing the floor to a dazzling shine. One was on his knees scraping off a small imperfection in the otherwise spotless hallway floor.
Cleanliness and attention to detail is key to a safe environment to prevent the spread of germs and infection. Debris and dirt is not a good sign when it comes to hospitals. A quick look at the public restroom can provide clues to the cleanliness of the rest of the facility.
What About the Surgical Staff?
A large clock on the wall ticks down the long wait as various technicians pop in and out of the curtained surgical waiting area. The first nurse starts an intravenous drip. She is well trained and does a good job inserting the needle with minimal pain inflicted.
Another staff member arrives and says they will be monitoring neurological readings while the patient is under anesthesia.
The anesthesiologist asks questions about things already answered, then, the scrub nurse who will be assisting comes in and asks more of the same questions. They each check the patient's arm band and ask his birth-date before they begin any treatment.
Things move rapidly once the surgeon steps in the room.
"I'll just give you a quick shot," the anesthesiologist says, shooting a stream of liquid into the air from a syringe "to make you relax." It's something that takes away your concerns and sends you into surgical dreamland.
Are hospital staff members courteous and careful to preserve the patient's privacy and dignity? Do they treat you with respect and concern? You are in their hands at this point.
Before the Surgery
The Doctor is In
But far more important than a clean environment and friendly well-trained personnel, you'll want to get a top-notch surgeon, one with your best interests in mind. And in the case of our doctor this was definitely true. His prompt attention to an ongoing issue of debilitating back pain got the patient into surgery within seven days of the first consultation.
It isn't brain surgery, or is it?
When it comes to major surgery, the hospital staff plays an important part in the patient's recovery from administration of medication to caring for dietary needs and personal rehabilitation. A well-trained staff will strive to get the patient back on his feet quickly. After three-level spinal fusion surgery, it was a long road to recovery for this patient.
At 6:30 in the evening, the other patients' families and friends who started the day here are long gone. The lucky ones who were in for day surgery are resting comfortably at home while the others have been taken to their assigned hospital rooms.
Twelve hours since our arrival, I saw the doctor heading in my direction wearing a big smile. That was a good sign after major surgery. The end of the day looms brighter in the darkened hospital as I listen to his carefully chosen words.
"I hope you got some lunch while you waited," he said. He demonstrates care not only for his patient, but for their family members.
"Yes, I did, thanks. Did you?"
"No. They don't let me take a lunch," the doctor says. He laughed, then, explained the procedure he performed over the past dozen hours in the operating room.
Thoughtful kindness is something else to look for in a hospital; finding people who actually care. And to say the patient in this case had good care is an understatement. Each action the staff member took was explained carefully and thoroughly what was being done. From the moment I walked into the ICU amid the scream of a thousand electronic beeping devices, I was included as part of the whole medical picture of those caring for my family member.
Nurse's Station Waiting Area
Throughout the experience I gained a new respect for the professionals who serve in the medical field. This hospital staff provided an atmosphere where the patient was treated with courtesy and respect including the extended family members. It takes a lot of dedication and training to be able to handle what these professionals do for a living day in and day out. It truly is an amazing place where they work.
Safe and Convenient Parking
Five Key Things to Consider
- Phones answered promptly, no long delays on hold
- Organization, courtesy, respect, and caring
- Modern technology, attention to detail, good records management
- Cleanliness, sanitized and orderly equipment, no visible debris or dirt
- Knowledgeable staff and well-trained professional attitudes
© 2012 Peg Cole