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 four 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, part two titled “Surgery at a Small Community Hospital” discussed security issues we encountered and part three titled “Floor polishing and Equipment Malfunctions causes Unnecessary Pain” dealt with some craziness with hospital maintenance and my wife not getting her pain medication in a timely fashion. In this piece I will discuss our final day at the hospital and the hell we went through.
If this is the first part that you are reading please take time to read the others first so that you have a fuller understanding of our experiences recently at Henry Mayo. As I have written a number of times, the Doctors, Nurses and Caregivers at the hospital were terrific for the most part. But the real issue is that the facility itself is less than half the size it should be to serve the Santa Clarita Valley communities.
My wife’s final day in Henry Mayo started off early with me coming over for a visit around 8:30 AM or so. The attending physician had just left after checking on Nancy. He was concerned that her blood count was down and wanted her to see a hematologist before he would discharge her from the hospital.
He apparently had put the order in for the hematologist right after his visit and we were just waiting for that doctor to show up. I subscribe to the notion of a four hour window of time being more than reasonable when waiting for a delivery or the satellite or cable guy. So we thought a couple of hours for the hematologist would be perfectly fine.
Around noon I went out the nurse’s station and asked about the hematologist and they had no information except to say they would page him. That was fine and I went back into Nancy’s room and waited with her. And waited, and waited, and waited.
Around 1:30 PM I went back out and asked if the hematologist had returned a call from the page. No, in fact the nurse said she saw him on the floor and asked if he had come by to see us!! At this point I was starting to get aggravated and asked that they track this doctor down and find out when he was coming by.
Now it was nearing 3:00 PM with no news on when this doctor of hematology was going to visit; nearly seven hours after the order went in. I asked to see a hospital administrator and the nurse said she would call. The nurse either called and the administrator never bothered to come down or she never called in the first place. Either way no one came to Nancy’s room to talk to us.
At 3:30 PM, I finally went out to the nurse’s station and told her that I wanted to see a hospital administrator in five minutes and I didn’t care if she had to call Roger Seaver’s office, the President and CEO of Henry Mayo, to get that to happen. I was pissed off!
No administrator showed but the hematologist came in close to 4:00 PM huffing and puffing as if he ran over from his office which was in a building next to the hospital. He looked at Nancy’s chart and peppered her with some questions.
Apparently with a trauma like the one Nancy suffered it is common for the blood count to go down somewhat because of bruising and some blood loss from the fracture. Most of that blood is absorbed into the soft tissue and eventually the count will go back up. He felt that this was the case with Nancy and it was fine for her to go home.
So we waited seven and half hours for what amounted to a five minute visit by a doctor who said everything was fine and she could go home. We never saw the hospital administrator that we asked for repeatedly and essentially wasted most of day waiting around for one doctor who claimed he had only just gotten the order to see Nancy that afternoon.
So let’s recap, the attending physician says he is putting in an order to have a hematologist see Nancy at 8:30 AM in the morning. Then after waiting nearly eight hours the doctor shows up and says he only just got the order to see Nancy. Where was the communication breakdown and why did that happen?
There is supposedly a shortage of beds at Henry Mayo but the hospital did not seem to be in a hurry to discharge Nancy and free up her bed. Does that mean there is no shortage and there for they don’t need to do an expansion?
Now, during that day of hell waiting in the hospital Nancy was in pain and uncomfortable unnecessarily. She needed assistance from a nurse to go from her bed to the bathroom. When Nancy got into the bathroom she spotted a large bug crawling on the floor and was fearful it might crawl into her soft cast. She pointed it out to the nurse who said; “Oh that is a cricket, I don’t kill crickets because they are good luck!” (Seriously, you can’t make this stuff up.)
Both my sister and I saw a bug in a hallway outside the emergency room the first day at Henry Mayo. I’m of the mind that a hospital should be really clean and that means no bugs in the buildings especially in the hospital rooms.
Based on some of the comments to my previous commentaries, I should just shut up about the bugs like the malfunctioning equipment or the apparent HIPPA violations and not talk about any of that. Don’t say anything negative because it’s the only hospital we have.
Anyway, after the hematologist left Nancy was cleared to go home. We gathered up her things and they brought a wheelchair to the room to take her down to the parking lot. At about 5:00 PM we were in the car and on our way home. Finally, after four days at Henry Mayo, and wasting most of the last day, we were able to get Nancy back into our house to start recuperating.
The entire experience was an eye opener for us. It highlighted the fact that our community hospital is not the appropriate size to handle the growing Santa Clarita Valley communities.
Henry Mayo is apparently only about 42% of what it should be for the Santa Clarita Valley population. The controversial hospital expansion plan would possibly increase the size by only about 8%. I say possibly because there seems to be no guarantee that if the expansion plans are approved by the Santa Clarita City Council that the hospital will get all the additional bed space they are requesting.
That my friend is a bad idea! The expansion plan is only another band-aid and if approved might bring the size of the hospital to about 50% of what is needed for our community. Are you okay with a hospital half the size it should be? Well, I’m not.
We need to see some bold leadership in the Santa Clarita City Council in turning down this expansion plan and going back to the table to come up with a vision, a plan, to fix the hospital problem for now and in the future. That will take courage on the part of the City Council; it will require members of the community speaking out and telling their elected representatives that they want a regional hospital in the Santa Clarita Valley.
In part five, I will explain my view of what we could have in SCV and wrap up this entire ordeal up in a nice tidy package.
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.