Friday, May 15, 2009
Sunday, May 3, 2009
A very dear family member of mine, a secular Jew, had chest pain which led to a bunch of interventions. This led to me flying back home to California one recent weekend to see him in the hospital.
His primary care doctor's practice, and his HMO, use a hospital run by a Catholic healthcare network. It has excellent cardiac outcomes, says the Medicare data. So keeping in mind that quality should be measured by outcomes and not by tenure, I haven't pushed for him to go to the academic hospital in town. I think for most people these days, the religious affiliation of a hospital, or the former affiliation, is just kind of a quirky detail. A hospital is a hospital. The HMOs are more powerful than the church. The doctors and nurses matter more than the priests and the nuns.
As far as the doctors, I was frustrated by the hospitalist, who had a Muslim name, and reassured by the pulmonologist, who also had a Muslim name; and I liked the Chinese American cardiologist just fine too. (The experience reminded me that for patients and patients' families, doctors loom large because they are very rarely seen; and nurses loom large because they are always around.)
Their nurses are unionized, but order their scrubs from the same mail order catalogs that our nurses order them from, and probably drive the same kinds of minivans too. There were fewer young nurses with those kinda cooler scrub patterns, more nurse's union pins, more Filipina accents, no one saying "myocahdial infahction". In other words, the variations from my own hospital only emphasized that it too was a hospital above all else, much more than it was a Catholic institution.
But still, on Sunday, there was a prayer over the loudspeaker. "It goes on just long enough for you to start to get irritated, but stops right before you are about to go ballistic," another (definitely not Catholic) beloved family member observed. "They've clearly timed it very carefully."
My dear family member is back home, now back in the warm embrace of secular humanism. Phew.
The hospital focuses on cardiac care...
...but doesn't let you forget that for this hospital administration, there is a celestial nurse manager above all others.
My family didn't know that "S.O.B" stood for "short of breath" so they thought this clinical plan, written next to the bed by the nurse to explain the plan for the day, seemed out of character for the hospital.