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Saturday, April 01, 2006
Hospitals and those who work in them - Part I
Hospitals and those who work in them.
(Part I of my story!)
From the moment you cross the threshold of a hospital, you enter a different, separate world. A world full of hope, despair, pain, calm, full of life and full of death. Almost like that other world outside, except that in this hospital world, the emphasis is on changing whatever situation is given, for something hopefully better.
Reading an article in a local newspaper, recently, it seems that the Hospital CHU (Central Hospital University) at Nimes, where I spent some time, and where I shall be doing my “re-education” course in April, churns out as much garbage and uses as much energy as a “middle sized town”.
This doesn’t surprise me, since there are some 4,500 employees and then the patients, who are more or less comfortably installed within the confines of this place.
From the beginning one can see the whole palette of human behaviour, from employees who are “only there for the money” and those who feel “called” to be in this line of work. Not that the one does the work better or worse than the other, it’s just the way they do the work that lets you know in which category to put them.
It starts from the little ladies who wander around, always armed with a trolley and a selection of brushes, cleaning items and who transform themselves into “dinner-ladies” at every meal-time. Normally occupied with cleaning the same dirty mark on the corridor, which NEVER goes away, over the whole of their working lives, they have seen just about every thing, are no longer surprised by anything, but just get a little more fed-up and irritable every year, as the patients simply can’t stop making a mess, and bleeding etc all over those areas she has just cleaned!
Then you have the Nurses, qualified or Studying, they all seem to be relatively dedicated to their task, maybe one doesn’t see them outside of working hours, to see the frustration and probably doubts which must assail them, when they consider a lifetime of nursing ahead of them. One thing is certain, a lack of patients will never be the case, and the amount of misery and tragic they will see in just one month is probably more than most of us in a complete life-time. Many of them make it through, some give up in despair, and some go to other extremes to end their co-existence with misery.
That most are dedicated professionals is the truth, but one has to say that there are the small percentages of exceptions which make the rule. Thankfully, these are normally sorted out, or discovered BEFORE they can do enormous amounts of damage, although there are exceptions to this rule as well.
After these “angels of mercy”, higher up the pecking order, come that mystery called an “intern”, who seems always to be a fellow, and seems to pass his life on the ward! He wanders through the area, pushing a large trolley, surrounded by “trainee interns”, and all the files or dossiers of all the patients present (and then some!) He seems to be aware of the state of health of absolutely everybody, and takes decisions immediately, with no fuss, every 10 seconds or so, explains them to his eagerly listening trainees, implements the decision and carries on. He is probably the most important guy in the place, since he is responsible for letting you go home!
I often wondered what would happen if the Intern fell ill!
Of course, if you have been selected for something a little out of the ordinary, then you start to REALLY get to know the people who work here:
Pre-surgery Doctors and Nursing teams, who are responsible for collecting the data necessary, before cutting you open, theatre and surgical teams of Nurses, Doctors, Specialists, Anaesthetists, and all the rest, including the people responsible for sharpening the scalpels, re-education specialists, physiotherapists, masseurs, gymnastic specialists and a whole multitude of other people involved somewhere or other in the procedure of “get well or bust!”
Often I wondered who or what that particular person was responsible for, but must be important, going on the large notice board she carried and was eternally marking, or noting things on.
Amongst these people who live/work in these surroundings, the most original (which I saw), the homeless fellow, who had installed himself in the tiny Hospital Chapel, to avoid the bitter cold outside, and to my knowledge, was able to stay undiscovered for at least 2 days! After that, I know not – I myself was on the table, as the star actor of the day!
With that we return to the other inhabitants of this mini-town – the Patients, and they are a very strange lot!
Basically entering the town on the basis of complaints (complaints to everybody, including their doctor), they never stop complaining! The food, the mattress, the other person in the room with them, the nurses, the doctors, briefly EVERYTHING!
I do believe that there are the odd occasions when an operation of a surgical nature is the only way to get a day’s peace from complaints!
Even then, there are the patients who don’t want to enter the place, and once in, don’t want to leave!
The whole caboodle of human nature, in all its forms, is represented, and has to be supported.
I suppose that, strictly speaking, the patient does not really work here, but without him, there would be nobody else there, so his participation is essential!
On certain occasions, one has the feeling that the surgeon is measuring you up, like the hangman, for what cut and thrust methods would/should be used in your particular case, but it doesn’t really matter, you can’t do anything about it anyway, like a good patient, you should be asleep most of the time you spend in this “mini-town” – letting others get on with their business!
End of Part I
(part II deals with the day to day mundane things, up to cutting you open!)