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Monday, January 14, 2013

The Welcome Mat ...

Part of my job is to set up patient rooms for the patients we have coming the next day. Without putting too much information out there, I think (for the purpose of this blog) it's important to the story to explain a little about who our patients are and where they come from.

The unit that I work on has the number one doctor in her field in the world and the hospital I work at is also a globally rated facility for the care of certain conditions. The unit I work in is particularly special because of who we treat. We treat patients that have been diagnosed with a certain, rare, strain of bacterial infections that include a few really well known (but rare) infections and some that aren't well known, but all in the same bacterial family. The idea is that the patient comes and stays for five days and in those five days they are given very thorough testing, both traditional and nontraditional, and amazing care from doctors and nurses that specialize in exactly what is wrong with them. Often they
end up staying for longer than five days because of surgeries or other testing, but the idea is in the typical case they come for our "5 day program" we send them home with a plan for their doctors at home and occasionally some return, but most don't.

Our patients come from, literally, all over the world. They come here because we are their last resort, because they are very ill, they are afraid of dying and they want help ... and usually we can give it to them.

I work graveyards and for those who have never worked nights, in many facilities you're kind of forgotten about. The day shift thinks you don't do much, the patients sleep through your shift, so you can watch over them for weeks, but they never even see your face, it can kind of be a thankless job, but I love it. I love knowing what we're doing for these people and watching their plans come in the form of doctor's orders and learning about this unique group of infections and how we can very literally save lives.

So, I digress ...

One of the parts of my job is to set up patient rooms. My co-workers think I'm slightly crazy for how particular I am about this, but here's the thing; first impressions are everything. If you come from halfway across the country or from halfway around the world to be in a facility I think the welcome mat would be important.

The bed is obviously made and looks nice, but then there are a few things we give every patient on day one; a water bottle with the facility logo, a personal box of facial tissues, a three ring binder explaining things about our facility, a booklet about the family of infections we treat, their personal paperwork to be filled out, and then collection cups for the "samples" they need to turn in on day one.

I always "hide" the collection cups when I set up their rooms. I make sure the first thing they see is the water bottle and tissue box, then the notebook and book, then the paperwork, and last the collection cups. I have a very specific way of setting it up so as they walk into the room that's the order that they come into line of sight. Again, my co-workers think I'm crazy, but I think the welcome mat is everything. I think it softens the blow as to the reality of why they're here when they see the gifts we are giving them before being reminded that they're going to have to provide samples.

I guess I just think a little differently than other people ...