Thursday, October 30, 2008

Nurses are Angels on Earth - Treat them Well

In my experience, the most important person in the power hierarchy of an organization isn't the person at the top, but the people with un-glorified roles who know what's going on and interact day-in and day-out with the "customer." It's not the company CEO, it's the CEO's assistant. And at a hospital it's not the doctors, it's the nurses and staff.

Think about it - you have surgery and your doc visits once a day to check your breathing, look under the bandage and ask how you feel. Four or five minutes later he or she is out the door.

The nurses - that's a whole different story. They dispense drugs, including painkillers; make sure you have food, something to drink, a clean gown; and hold your hair back when you vomit. Nurses also suction your trach tube when it's clogged with phlegm and share tips about how to keep your IV line from becoming tangled. Nurses are angels on Earth.

Other deserving staff including nursing assistants (they also hold your hair when you vomit), nutrition employees who deliver your meals (which are often the highlight of the day) and maintenance workers who mop up all that stuff you expel onto the floor.

If your hospital stay extends for more than two or three days, these people become very important in your world and they should be treated well and with respect. During my transplant-related hospital stays, I took candy for the nurses and staff (and docs, too - after all, they saved my life). I'm not talking cheap hard candy - it was mini chocolate bars for those folks. When the supply ran low my husband bought more.

I also take candy to family and friends who are hospitalized, for their nurses. I want them to get the best possible care, so I treat their nurses well.

I'm interested in other opinions on this topic, especially from nurses and hospital staff. What can patients (and their family and friends) do to express gratitude? And if you've been a patient, what have you experienced? Please tell us by leaving a comment.

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