State-of-the-care | Moment's Notice

By Maria Montalvo | Mar 05, 2017

I have spent too much time in hospitals lately.

In the past three years, I have been in waiting rooms hoping for the best, and even for miracles, for people I love. The last six weeks alone have seen multiple trips to the emergency room and out-of-hospital medical experiences – waiting for tests and holding hands, and not always getting the best news or the best, well, care.

It reminded me of the desperate need for people to receive effective and kind, patient-centered health care that is both preventive and reactive.

Swedish Edmonds features a state-of-the-art emergency and trauma center. It was designed in accordance with new studies of what works for patients, for families, for medical staff (as far as I understand).

Individual rooms that provide dignity and privacy through glass doors and curtains, window-like art and more soothing light, equipment placement that is less invasive or scary to the patient, and pleasant space for loved ones in and out of the rooms to hear treatment options, ask questions, and talk to family about tough decisions. Our ER is not the norm.

Of course, the setting is only a part of the experience. The doctors, nurses, med techs, administrators and everyone else who actually treat the patients make all the difference.

In my most recent visit to the emergency room with a loved one (not here in Edmonds), I was pleasantly surprised, and by that I mean I was completely stunned, that every person we came in contact with was communicative, apparently qualified, considerate, calming and cognizant of setting priorities according to medical protocols but also by our wishes.

The ER doc even called the next two days to ensure follow-up care was going well. That is also not the norm.

I have had too many experiences where the doctors barely knew who they are speaking to, where critical facts are overlooked, home treatment options are unknown, unnecessarily and high-volume doses of opiods prescribed, and day-to-day or even hour-to-hour, everything changes, sometimes with reason, sometimes without.

Medical staff shifts are incredibly long and they have an almost incomprehensible list of patients to get to. It seems they have to choose between staring at electronic charts or actually seeing patients.

Care-workers of all kinds are truly special humans. From doctors and nurses to those who care for our friends and family in therapy centers, nursing homes, rehabilitation facilities, drug treatment centers and all of the other places where we go for help in times of need, we count on them and hold them to the highest of standards because they are caring for those we love.

Just yesterday, my cousin said it best. Our family was at the point that we wanted either the best or the worst cancer news because it was impossible to take the in-between any longer, since the treatment was so difficult.

I am overjoyed to say that today we got the best news.

I do not have all of the answers to our health-care challenges in this country, and likely very few people do. When it is the person you adore more than anything lying in that bed, any politics or posturing seem quite ridiculous and almost insulting.

Finding a way to organize our system to put the patients first is, well, the only answer.


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