Tuesday, November 18, 2014

An open letter to the Chambersburg Hospital

"I hate going to the hospital. I dislike everything about the idea. Shots, medicine, 4 am vital sign checks, probing, tests, being told what and when to eat, breezy night gowns that are uncontrollably open in the back, just the whole unpleasantness and disruption to life of having to be there in the first place - the whole thing stinks.

So, on Saturday night, right after a nice dinner, where did I have to go? Yep, you got it… the Chambersburg Hospital. Geez….

I did not go easy. My wife and I had just had a fantastic dinner with friends at Barb and Larry Lahr's Bistro on Main Street, had paid the bill, and we were walking to our car. That's when my heart started racing. I sat in the car for a while hoping my heart would settle down. Nope. So I pulled out anyway and started to drive to the home of our friends, where dessert was waiting and calling my name.

I stopped at the end of the parking lot, sat back, breathed deeply and waited. To no avail, my heart kept right on fluttering away. Over my wife's strong objections to my continuing to drive, I reasoned that by the time we got to the home of our friends all would be well. Wrong again.

Along the way, I made a detour and stopped at the entrance to the Chambersburg Hospital emergency room. Not happy to miss dessert, I sat there and tried as hard as I could to settle my heart down.

Flutter, flutter, flutter

After awhile, at my wife's now clear direction (you would have to know my wife to know exactly what that means), I got out of the car and, with my wife's help, entered the one place I did not want to go, yep, the stinking hospital.

I registered and was quickly and efficiently triaged. From that moment on everything, and I mean everything, ran like a Swiss clock. Understand that this is no trip to a fancy hotel in the islands somewhere. Actually, as it turned out, and I hate to admit this, there are a good many aspects of the care and concern that I received from the hospital here that are a darn sight better than anything I ever experienced on a vacation in the islands.

The emergency room doctor, nurses and staff are professional, knowledgeable, attentive and, most important to me, they are caring. When I was finally stable and taken from the emergency room to an overnight room, everyone, and I mean everyone, made it their priority to make certain, and without a shadow of doubt, that I was comfortable and that the diagnostic and healing process would continue unabated.

The hospital's on-staff doctors, called hospitalists, are knowledgeable and terrific people. As shifts changed, the next doctor taking over my case knew exactly what had transpired previously and continued the procedures smoothly as though he had been there from the beginning.

I was not asked the same question twice. Then, talk about nurses being angels, these men and women know their stuff and made certain that the care given was given right.

For better or for worse, I notice little things. My wife says I can be a pain in the butt. I am sure she is right. It's my type A personality, I guess, and my experience as a management consultant that sometimes gets the best of me. Here is what I noticed at the hospital.

I noticed cleanliness and attention to detail. I noticed unswerving eye contact and a real sensitivity to my medical needs. I noticed fresh water with ice always at my bedside and without asking. I noticed being offered an extra blanket, because a nurse's assistant actually saw that I looked chilly.

I noticed that I never - even once - had to push that call button for assistance. Why? Because, I noticed that someone was checking on my well being no less than hourly. I am a light sleeper, and I noticed that there was someone in and out of the room at least hourly throughout the night, just observing and making sure. They would not have had to do that. Most people may not have noticed. I did. These nurses are like guardian angels, I guess.

What I noticed was that there was no falseness or pretense. These people really care. I thought how difficult it is to find anyone in the world who really cares, and, yet, everyone that had a role in my well-being could not have cared more.

It turned out that because of the immediacy of attention I was offered, I am OK and, hopefully, will not have a recurrence of the medical problem that I encountered on Saturday night. I missed dessert. But had I been somewhere else, or had my treatment been further delayed by my stubbornness or by improper or haphazard triage, or had Chambersburg Hospital been a less professional place, I believe the consequences to my health could well have been different.

I hear from time to time how this or that did not go exactly how someone wanted it to go during a stay at the hospital. I am sure that everyone who enters the hospital is not as fortunate health-wise as I have been. Sometimes the medical profession just cannot deliver the results that it would otherwise like to have delivered. And, I guess, as human beings, we all need to blame someone or something other than fate for things that do not go so well.

The only thing I can say, from my perspective, to the Chambersburg Hospital is thank you. I still think going to the hospital stinks. But, there is no better place to be when you have to be there.

I am grateful to everyone at the Chambersburg Hospital - from Norm Epstein, the CEO, to the kind and friendly lady who thoroughly and cheerfully cleaned the room in which I stayed.

To all of you at the Chambersburg Hospital, you can be proud of what you do for the community and for people who so desperately need your care. I am truly grateful to all of you for that care that you showed to me. Thank you. Thank you from the bottom of my heart (which, thanks to you, is turning out to be OK).

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