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The Slice

Posts tagged: hospitals

Would you be willing to do this?

Before surgical procedures, hospital staffers sometimes hand you an info sheet: “FAQs about Surgical Site Infections.”

It offers some good information and advice.

But one highlighted passage raises a question or two.

It says, “If you do not see your providers clean their hands, please ask them to do so.”

No doubt, that is wise counsel.

But here's the thing. Don't most people operate on the assumption that the best way to get good treatment is to be liked?

And does questioning someone's professionalism encourage that person to like you?

I know. What I'm saying sounds like I think we're still in junior high or something. Asserting your rights as a patient should be encouraged. Getting decent care should not be about hitting it off with the nurses or whatever.

Moreover, the medical staffer requested to wash his or her hands will no doubt smile and offer the patient praise for asking.

But c'mon. Does anything you know about human nature suggest that such a request really is appreciated? 

Of course, if you wind up getting an infection because someone failed to wash his hands, the fact that everyone thought you were a great guy won't matter much.

So there's that to consider.

Re: shared hospital rooms

There's no need for a Top 10 list of the potential drawbacks. I assume most of us know about loud, bathroom-hogging roommates whose visitors tend to be foul-smelling, braying jackasses.

But that's not the whole picture.

If you are extremely fortunate, you might encounter people like Ron and Marsha Feller on the other side of the drawn curtain.

A few months before my father died here in Spokane in 2007, he shared a room with Ron Feller, a teacher and artist.

At that stage of his life, my father was a challenge to deal with, to put it mildly. He had lost the ability to recognize the problem in loudly calling out for assistance with some non-pressing matter at 2 a.m. And then, after getting some exasperated attention, doing it again at 2:17. Et cetera.

But Ron and his wife, Marsha — who spent hour after hour in the room, treated my dad with superhuman patience and compassion. My mom and I were awed by their generosity of spirit. We still talk about it.

Four years later, Marsha and Ron keep in touch with my mom, just to make sure she's doing all right.

A lot of people talk about what great people we have here in Spokane. But there's nothing like seeing a couple of them in action to make you a believer.

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About this blog

Features writer Paul Turner is a columnist for The Spokesman-Review in the Features department. He writes "The Slice" column, which appears six times a week and produces general features stories for the Today section.

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