More observations from inside Kelowna General Hospital.
As mentioned in last week’s HodgePodge there are a other issues of legitimate concern regarding KGH aside from the woeful inadequate and ridiculously expensive parking.
Foremost is the clear shortage of staff, primarily nurses and nurses aids. While I was treated tremendously well it was more than evident that the few nurses who were on duty were overworked and forced to spend much of their time performing minor tasks or jobs that could easily have been handled by less trained personnel or staff. Whether the shortage of nurses and/or assistants is due to union demands or guidelines, or simply a lack of funding, the end result is patients’ lives may be seriously in jeopardy.
During my six day stay in my two-bed ward I shared space with three different roommates: Fred, Randy, and Chris. Two of them were clearly in poorer health than I. If my foggy memory serves me correct Fred was recovering from cancer surgery on his tongue and mouth and a roommate my first two nights. Randall Siemens and I shared space for two nights as well before he was relocated to Hospice, and then Chris bunked in to room 4004 for the duration of my stay. Chris’s illness had doctors baffled as to its cause and were planning exploratory surgery to learn the cause after a battery tests here and in Cranbrook had not revealed the culprit.
Between the three of us our bedside nurse-alert buttons were pushed a number of times, though none of us without legitimate cause.
The majority of times help arrived in reasonable time, however, occasionally the response time was absurdly long. Most disconcerting was that a few staff, whose role I never did learn, simply ignored the buzzer, walking past the room not even peering in the room. On one occasion, while watching an air bubble moving through my intervenes line and no one responding, I freaked out and screamed loud enough to finally gain attention. The reluctant worker annoying explained afterwards that the bubble was ‘not really an issue’, though I failed to understand her rational.
I have often heard the suggestion there is a lack of beds at KGH. I am not sure about that but I do know there is definitely a shortage of rooms. On seemingly every floor there are at least one or two patients sleeping or stationed in beds located in the hallways of the ward. Not only is that scenario difficult for the patient, it is also hazardous for others attempting to move about the ward. Fortunately I was not one of those assigned to a hallway.
I cannot comment on the quality of the hospital food, commonly maligned everywhere, because I was not fortunate (or otherwise) to sample it as I was (and remain) on a liquid diet. It is rather difficult to chew with half my teeth missing, a titanium jaw still healing, and hundreds of stitches in the floor of my mouth and jaw.
Ironically I actually somewhat enjoyed my hospital visit as it allowed me a chance to slow down and chill for a bit, something I did not realize I needed to do. Sometimes a forced holiday is a good thing, though granted I would prefer the next one minus the pain.
I was thrilled, however, to regain my freedom and return home.
Unfortunately the same cannot be said for roommate Randy. Mr. Siemens succumbed to his cancer last Wednesday (Mar. 8) after a brave four year fight. We shared little time together and under difficult circumstances but it was clear to me Randy was a kind and caring man who was blessed with a close and loving family. I will never forget how they faithfully gathered around him for comfort in his final days.
My condolences to his wife Janice, children Joelle, Carissa, Ryan and other family and friends.
Speaking of health and related issues, as part of my home-care program preparations I was reminded that the wonderful folks at the Canadian Red Cross offer various equipment for loan or rent, including wheelchairs, bed tables, and other items. Tez and I popped in to their office last week to borrow some items and learned of a planned volunteer info night next month. Set for Tuesday, April 4 at the Canadian Red Cross Office 124 Adams Road the volunteer information session promises to be short yet informative. To learn more call 1-855-995-3529 or email BCYvolunteering@redcross.ca
The Red Cross is a tremendous organization very worthy of your time and support. I encourage you to attend.