If you like this post, please read my Senior Parent Hospitalization posts: Report #1: This Hospital Gets It, Report #2: Peace and Quiet, Report #3: Four Ways to Reduce Stress for Patient Families, Report #4: Observations from My Dad, Report #5: The Emergency Room Worked Fast, and Report #6: Learning About Cardiac Procedures and Surgeries.
I am sitting in a beautiful Mountain View Cafe atrium of Rockingham Memorial Hospital in Harrisonburg, VA. My father is hospitalized for a few days because his congestive heart condition — I occasionally use the word condition instead of failure (CHF). He was having difficulty breathing and fluid accumulated so a few medical problems had to be solved.
This is a beautiful hospital, on a new campus that is barely one year old, and it doesn’t get much better than this. Most of the physicians, nurses, CNA’s and aides are genuinely friendly and respectful. Very few use the words “hon” or “sweetie” when they are helping Dad. And so far only one staff person of the 20 or 30 whom we have interacted with has spoken to my dad in a loud falsetto voice. When you hear, as I have several times in several hospital locations these past 48 hours, an elder talking on and on, non-stop, the staff acts like they have all of the time in the world to listen and converse (though I know that in reality they are incredibly busy). Clearly hospital managers focus on the basics of respectful interaction with patients and their families.
The security and maintenance staff, even the golf cart driver, who literally begged us to let him give us a ride in the parking lot, are committed to service — friendly, helpful, and ever thoughtful. When we visit the Mountain View Cafe, where I am writing this post, the workers try to help visitors relax and enjoy their food. This gorgeous atrium dining area, with its huge windows looking onto the healing garden and farther still to the Shenandoah Mountains, features greenery in every direction, and lots and lots of light. Of note, Rockingham Memorial Hospital is the first in Virginia, and among the first in nation, to achieve LEED® Gold Certification (committed to green living, inside and out). To learn even more about the greening of RMH, see the article, In It’s Journey for Silver Virginia Hospital Picks Up Gold, an article in HealthCare Design.
My parents’ primary care doctors — the devoted, old-fashioned kind who visit in the morning and evening — have taken the time not only to listen but also to give a fair amount of straight-forward advice about how to avoid future breathing problems with congestive heart failure (CHF). They also listen carefully as we describe challenges of aging. A cardiologist sat down next to my dad and seemed to have all the time in the world to listen. Then last night, to make a point, the amazing Dr. Yoder pointed out that, though we all wish it were so, every issue can’t be neatly defined. He quoted lyrics from The Kind and I song, Tis A Puzzlement.
When I was a boy
World was better spot.
What was so was so,
What was not was not.
Now I am a man;
World has changed a lot.
Some things nearly so,
Others nearly not.
When was the last time your physician took the time to quote Rodgers and Hammerstein to help you understand a medical problem? He made his point.
Watch for more updates.