Rose White: Change needed at TMH
December 23, 2012
This letter is appearing in four parts in the Craig Daily Press' print edition. The letter appears here in its entirety.
To the editor:
I recently found myself as a patient at The Memorial Hospital. Please bear with me, I need to start from the beginning for any of this to make sense.
I was admitted to the hospital via the Emergency Room Sunday night, Dec. 9. By Thursday afternoon I was feeling much better and able to finally get out of bed for a couple short forays in the hallway.
Friday started out as another positive day health wise. I was thrilled knowing I would soon be going home.
That thrill was short-lived!
Following my first morning stroll of the hallways, pleased that I had gone much further than before, but flat on my back again because I was exhausted, is when I got the visit from hell!
Talking to my "escort" as we walked, I mentioned something about the survey I would be receiving after being released and I would have to remember to include a couple things in the room that could be improved upon.
Absolutely NOT complaints on my part, just conversation. I also know that things cannot be fixed if you are not aware of them. It happens.
My "escort", knowing I was not going home yet, mentioned to someone (I don't know who, and it really doesn't matter), there were some things in my room that if they were repaired, would make my stay more pleasant. Everything went south from there.
To my "escort" – Thank you for coming to me with a heartfelt apology and an explanation for your actions that makes perfect sense. It takes a very big person to do that, especially when you really did nothing to cause the visit from hell.
I had not been back in my room 5 minutes and here came Jennifer Riley, Chief of Organizational Excellence, storming into my room in her usual confrontational, in your face, "I am right and when I leave here you'll know it" attitude.
I know exactly how she is. I have tried to have discussions with her before. In my opinion, you cannot DISCUSS anything with Jennifer Riley, ever. And, she is accompanied by George Rohrich, CEO.
I tried to explain that I was NOT complaining. There were just three things that were a bit irritating but certainly nothing I could not live with.
The first of the three irritating things I noticed about the Memorial Hospital involved the recliners in the rooms. They are a liability to Moffat County that must be remedied before a patient or a guest is injured and a lawsuit follows.
You cannot recline, and stay there; it just goes back down for no rhyme or reason. If you want any chance of it staying back it is necessary to put the trash can under the footrest and even that may not work!
George Rohrich has known about the problems with the recliners since shortly after the hospital opened. Yet he acted like he had never heard of any problem with the recliners.
Jennifer Riley said, "well she doesn't have enough weight to keep it back."
I am assuming she meant me, but I was not using the recliner. It was my husband who tried to rest there because he was with me nearly 24/7 for this stay.
And what does weight have to do with anything, really?
As CEO and Chief of Organizational Excellence I would think that the safety of patients and guests would be a priority. Knowing about the problem and resulting safety issue and doing nothing to remedy it would, I think, be opening Moffat County to a lot of liability.
On a side note: A friend stopped by to visit me the very next day and the first comment she made was about the recliners and that she and several others had brought them to the attention of administration shortly after the hospital opened. She was surprised they had done nothing to remedy the problem.
Her solution when she had to stay with a family member was to tie two-gallon jugs of water to the rail on the back of recliner AND put a trash can under the footrest.
Why have these chairs not been replaced? They were apparently defective when they were purchased. Why were the chairs not returned when they were brand new for a full refund or exchange?
The second irritating thing: The TV control would not work through the control attached to the bed. You have to use a separate remote with it that sometimes was not responsive.
And, if a visitor left the remote out of my reach I could either bear with it or call the nurse. I lived with it.
Apparently the TV controlled by the remote attached to the bed had been broken for some time and had been replaced with the one currently in the room. They were aware of it.
When there were other empty rooms, why are they using that room if they were aware of it? Who makes those decisions? And, what are the criteria?
This is also a liability issue that the CEO and his Chief of Organizational Excellence have chosen to ignore instead of taking the appropriate action to remedy the problem. Once more they were unconcerned with potential lawsuits, much less safety.
The third irritating thing I noticed about the Memorial Hospital: the lights, the grand finale to the visit from hell.
I admit these lights were getting on my very last nerve.
There are two little buttons on the control by the bed. They have little light bulbs on them. A reasonable person would assume that means that you can control TWO lights with those TWO switches.
Well you would be wrong.
You will be able to control ONE light with ONE switch, sometimes! And you have no control over which light will work or when it will work. I am not exactly sure how, but whether the one switch works or not has something to do with the way it is turned off at the wall switch, I think.
The second switch is apparently strictly for decorative purposes because no one has seemed inclined to try to wire it in. Maintenance let me know loud and clear that it had always been that way and that was the way it would stay.
Such a small thing and it is so darn irritating to me!
After spending five days in that hospital I can honestly tell you that nursing personnel at TMH earn every nickel of the paltry wages they are paid. They work 12-hour shifts and there is no strolling up and down the halls, they go at top speed continually.
There are always alarms of some type beeping, call lights on, patient care, medications to be given correctly and at the correct time, medication changes to keep on top of and that is just a small part of what they do, and they do it all with a smile.
And they are ALWAYS asking if there is anything they could do for me. If you really like to be waited on hand and foot I guess you would love it.
I don't, I hate it! I hate having to ask for help, especially if it is something I could so easily do myself.
I tried to explain to George Rohrich and Jennifer Riley how annoying it is to have to call the nursing staff to turn the light on and off. Jennifer Riley informed me "that is their job!"
At that point I totally lost it. My language went in the toilet right along with my attitude.
I did say it was not their job and that Jennifer should haul her "posterior" out there and follow them around for a couple days and maybe she would develop a little respect and appreciation for what they do.
But this also comes back to a safety and liability issue.
When you are really sick you do not think clearly. Had I tried to get up and operate the lights myself I could have caused a multitude of other dangerous possibilities.
Who do you think would have been responsible? And Moffat County would not have an adequate defense because they knew of the problem and did nothing.
During the entire verbal exchange/intimidation/harassment — whatever you choose to call it — I had with Jennifer Riley, the only time George Rohrich opened his mouth about anything was the recliner.
I felt George Rohrich did not uphold his position of CEO as he stood next to Jennifer with a smirk on his face as Jennifer Riley continued to attempt to bully me. I felt they both acted very unprofessionally with their words and their actions.
This has to be about the most unprofessional event I have ever witnessed, much less been a part of. And this is coming from the CEO and his Chief of Organizational Excellence?
Are you kidding me? What a shining example they are setting as representatives of the Memorial Hospital!
I received great care at TMH starting with the emergency room staff, Dr. McClananan and Dr. Lee, the nursing staff, radiology, respiratory therapists, phlebotomists, physical therapy, occupational therapy, dietary staff (great food!), housekeeping staff and the Pink Ladies!
And I believe that to be in spite of the administration and certainly not because of them.
Up to Friday morning when I got the visit from hell I had nothing but positive things to say about TMH and the care I received. Plus how accommodating they were to my husband.
Now I just want to see George Rohrich and Jennifer Riley GONE – YESTERDAY — before this hospital gets such a bad reputation and sued so many times we can't afford to keep it open.
I read and hear so much negativity regarding TMH and about so many people going to Steamboat Springs for health care.
This hospital belongs to the citizens of Moffat County. We own it and we are paying for it.
The Memorial Hospital should be run the way WE want it ran and it should accommodate our needs. What a shame that we have put this much time, money and effort into having a new hospital and then have the current administration ruin it for everyone.
The Hospital Board needs to step up and do the job they volunteered to do. If they don't have the stomach for it, then please, resign, and allow someone else to do what needs to be done.
It is time, way past time.