March 12, 2014 | LXXIII, No. 50

Staff cuts apparent at hospital

Letter to the Editor

Having been a recent patient at our community hospital and having been a nurse’s aide for several years I would like to present my observations of patient care.

In January I was hospitalized for four days. During that time I observed nurses and doctors attempting to give the best care possible, and they were great. What I did not see were the chores usually done by nursing assistants.

For example, no towels or soap in the bathroom until after two days I asked for them. No clean gown or bed linen for four days and no Kleenex until I asked the custodian, who brought me some. I asked for an extra pillow, was told none were available. The doctor who discharged me did not know me, and did not warn me of drug interactions that could be troublesome for some time after I went home.

It is true that the hospital was full, the available staff was running off their feet and could attend only to things that were more critical. They were all doing their best in a difficult situation, but where were the nursing assistants who would attend to such items of care and send the patient home feeling she had had the best care?

Since then I have had routine lab work done. When I asked why I was not fitted with a plastic i.d. bracelet as a safety measure, no one had an answer. There was just a paper label to be attached to my sample. This is not good safety practice of the hospital or the patient.

A normal time for this test is usually 15 minutes or less. On Feb. 25 when this routine procedure was needed, I waited 45 minutes because of the work lined up ahead of me. While I waited, there were only two chairs available for five people. One was a new mother with a three-day-old baby — no chair. Another was an older lady caring for her husband who was a diabetic with dementia. Again, no seating and a long wait. Luckily the concierge walked by, saw what needed to be done, and brought chairs for all of us. I saw only two people in the lab, on a Monday morning when the workload could be expected to be heavy. Again, none of us were given the plastic i.d. bracelets. When I asked the lab attendant why, he did not know. This, again, is not good safety practice.

It seems to me that if these measures, lack of assistants, lack of lab technicians, lack of safety measure are an attempt to save money; I ask if this is good policy. A suit against the hospital because of problems like I saw could make our precarious financial position even worse. Is this good business practice? To my mind it is not.

Is this an attempt by the administration to establish total control? We have already seen that conflicts between staff and management have led to the loss of key personnel. We cannot afford any further losses. I have lived in this area when the nearest hospital was 50 miles away. We had one doctor 25 miles away. Believe me, this is terrifying to those of us with small children or elders to care for.

I hope that the administration will take heed of the deep community concerns that are being voiced by many of us.

I have been informed by the administration that the i.d. bracelets will now again be a part of regular policy.

I want to thank the administration for their very prompt response to my concerns about this issue.

Carol Netzel

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