Sunday, May 16, 2010

Henry Mayo Part III: Floor polishing and Equipment Malfunctions causes Unnecessary Pain

This was originally published in November, 2008 as part of a four commentary series chronicling my and my wife’s experiences at Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Hospital. It is an accurate account of a four day stay at the hospital which started in the emergency room, nearly five hours of surgery and then 3 days recovery in a hospital room. This is part three in a series of commentaries detailing the deficiencies we experienced at Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Hospital and why our community desperately needs a regional medical center. Part one titled “The ER: Ammo and Water!” covered the emergency room and part two titled “Surgery at a Small Community Hospital” discussed security issues we encountered. In this piece I want to showcase some facility problems that we experienced.

It was about midnight after Nancy spent nearly six hours between pre-op, surgery and post-op. The post-op nurses decided she was ready to be moved back to her room so they started to wheel her gurney out of post-op and into the hospital side of that long, expensive, elevated hallway. But we quickly realized that we could not get Nancy back to her room.

You see, the genius custodial engineers decided to “wax” that hallway all at once. Yes, the entire hallway was blocked off with a web of yellow caution tape affixed to the walls on either side. Not only that, but there was wet wax all over the hallway. This was the only way, aside from going outside the building, to get from the main hospital into the pavilion where Nancy’s room was.

Leaving the building into the dark of night with a freshly minted surgical patient was not an option. We were forced to go back into a pre-op room and wait while the nurse yelled at the maintenance supervisor on duty that night.

Now, I don’t have a PHD in custodial sciences but I’m pretty sure that I would have opted to wax one side of the hallway at a time allowing passage between the two buildings during the entire floor polishing process. But then again the architect (Rube Goldberg) should have had the foresight to add an alternate connection between the two buildings.

After waiting more than 30 minutes or so for the custodial “scientists” to clean up the wet wax and remove the tape blocking the hallway we were able to get my wife into her room for the night. I did not get out of the hospital until well after one in the morning. By the way, no security at all at the pavilion entrance which was completely unlocked; it appeared as though anyone could have walked in or out unabated.

I was back at the hospital to see Nancy on Saturday morning after getting about five hours sleep. She was still on a heavy amount of medication and was very groggy. I spent several hours with her as she slipped in and out of sleep and then went home for a couple hours.

When I returned Nancy was in quite a bit of pain and I asked the nurse to get her more pain medication. The one thing that is extremely important is pain management in these situations. There is no reason why someone should be in pain in the hospital. Unfortunately Nancy was allowed to be in pain longer than necessary because the narcotics cabinet was “malfunctioning”.

Because certain drugs are strictly controlled they are apparently dispensed from a cabinet controlled through a computer terminal attached to it. The nurse would log on with a password and ID to get the particular drug and needs to have another nurse sign on as a witness; the dose is then dispensed.

I don’t know all the details of the “malfunction” but I can tell you that Nancy was in a lot of pain and that didn’t make me happy at all. She had pressed the nurse call button several times and no one answered but she did hear other people yelling at the nurses for medications for their loved ones. She was not the only one not getting her medication in a timely fashion. The nurses were apologetic and were doing the best they could with the equipment at hand.

Does this sound like the kind of hospital our community should have? As I have said in the previous postings, we need a large modern regional hospital that has a sufficient number of beds to serve the population of the Santa Clarita Valley. Not the band-aid approach that is being proposed by the current hospital management which is adding more office space than beds.

Part 4 will deal with our final day in the hospital which was hell!

Dave Bossert- Commentary

Dave Bossert is a community volunteer who serves on a number of boards and councils. His commentaries represent his own opinions and not necessarily the views of any organization he may be affiliated with or those of the West Ranch Beacon.

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