Roy Exum: Hospital Horror Stories

Sunday, October 31, 2021 - by Roy Exum
Roy Exum
Roy Exum

The story is being told that CHI Memorial Hospital posted a list of “open positions” before purging about 100 employees who balked at taking the COVID vaccine. These employees, all good ones at their jobs, will be fired first thing tomorrow for non-compliance to a very unpopular mandate by a very unpopular president. That’s one thing … but to post the open positions, as the nonvaxxers are still working, is colder than this weekend’s rains, brother.

Chattanooga’s biggest hospital, Erlanger, got in on the bitterness Thursday by removing the immensely popular Chris Young as the hospital’s Chief of Staff in a move that magnifies Erlanger’s overall dysfunction.

Young, elected by the medical staff, purportedly embarrassed the hospital in a PBS ”Frontline” special, whereas many who saw it thought it instead reflected Dr. Young’s 30-year love for the hospital and its people.

Several states are actively defying the presidential mandate that many believe will cripple the nation instead of helping in the fight against the coronavirus epidemic. Mandates will cripple other key industries as well. The Tennessee legislature is currently drawing up anti-mandate legislation and, as Governor Kay Ivey of Alabama believes, the courts will decide mandates are not legal.

Already it is being assailed as an attack on hospital workers and, with nursing shortages now critical and nationwide, this business of hospitals shooting their wounded makes absolutely no sense. Memorial and Erlanger have made this Halloween Weekend a human resources nightmare when, as history will soon prove, neither event needed to happen.

Both Erlanger and Memorial are understaffed, which brings up an anonymous “Letter from a Nurse” the boards of both medical providers should not only read, but investigate and correct.

* * *


Imagine this. You walk onto the floor, and you have 25 patients. 25 humans you are responsible for, 25 humans you will have to know everything about. When they eat, if they eat, how much they pee, what color it is, when their last bowel movement was, what color, shape, and consistency it was, what their labs look like, their cognitive status, if they have wounds, what meds are due, what are their vitals.

You get to the floor and get report on these 25 people. All not well, some with orders that need completing. One has bladder scans every 6 hours and has to be ‘cathed’ if they are over a certain limit, one is on an IV infusion every 6 hours and frequent monitoring. 5 are aggressive and need to be kept away from others. At least one had a fall requiring neuro checks every hour, one is dying with no family at their side.

Then imagine being short staffed.

Then imagine the family calling wanting a check up on their family members and complaining when you can’t get on the phone right now.

Imagine that you are in the middle of cleaning up a patient, alone, when the family calls and can't stop to take the call but will call them as soon as you're done.

Imagine your manager reprimanding you for not taking the call as the family is angry and complaining.

Then imagine 6 of those 25 calling out for pain meds every 2 hours. Some of it is pain seeking, some of it is actual pain from the cancer. Then the one that is dying needs pain meds for comfort every hour and just wants someone at their bedside. Oh, and don't forget the high fall-risk patients that you have circled around your station so you can keep an eye on them.

Then imagine doing everything you can for all these humans you are responsible for and getting cursed out, talked down to, criticized for not being “fast enough” asked “Where were you?”  told “I’ve been on the light for 20 minutes?!”

Now imagine also not having an enough Certified Nurse Assistants (CNA’s) -- the backbone of the skilled nursing system! So now, with all of that, you also trying to help respond to call lights, bathroom calls, changing patients, turning patients every 2 hours, getting water, getting snacks, emptying catheters, measuring intake and output, bathing, and more changing.

Imagine a patient getting upset because you didn't bring them coffee and snacks quick enough and giving meds for comfort to your dying patient.

And now… you have a new admit coming to the floor with a wound vac, needing pain meds that you don't have. Another human, another life, to take care of.

Now imagine administration always complaining you never do enough, dressings aren’t changed on time, tubing isn’t labeled correctly, rooms are messy. Charting isn't done, write ups are threatened.

This is nursing ... today.

This is why we are burned out.

This is why we are short staffed.

This is why nurses and CNAs are leaving the profession.

(Signed anonymously)

* * *

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