Wednesday, October 05, 2011

The Patient Experience

I've written a great deal about my mom and her stay at the Evergreen Hospital in Kirkland, WA. My mom's experience there was a mix of great care and disappointing communication. As her durable power of attorney it wasn't always easy to get information from them. Sometimes they called my brother instead of me and often they called several phone numbers instead of the ONLY number I gave them to contact me personally. Then of course there was the matter of their clumsy communication leading me to believe my mom was dead, when she was very much alive.

Her initial experience with the hospital was pretty bad. In fact I filed a grievance against the hospital and worked with their risk management department that led to specific hospital policy changes. I never threatened lawsuits or acted like a jackass. I tried to stay positive and work with them to help them be a better hospital. After all, they're the closest hospital to me and my two children were born there. I actually NEED them to be a good hospital.

They had hired a film crew to come up from California and record different patient experiences for training of their doctors and staff inside their medical system. This was to sort of help them understand what can happen, not just in some theoretical hospital, but theirs. I agreed to be a part in this training and I told my story. I was told by the filmcrew that it was a powerful story. Plus, I got to wear makeup!

The person at the hospital that is in charge of their Patient Experience department has emailed me several times trying to nail down a time that I can preview this video that was made. Unbelievably each time she emails me she asks how my mom is doing. My mom of course died over two months ago, in that hospital. I've yet to reply to her concern about my mom for a couple of reasons:

  1. If you're in charge of the patient experience, should it be in your interest at all as a professional to check to see how a person's experience may have ended, especially if they were in the critical care unit for weeks? Seriously, I would likely go check to see how things went or check the social security death index before I went and asked "Hey how is your mom doing? How was her experience in our hospital?
  2. I haven't found a way to answer the question without sort of blasting through the obvious and risk making her feel bad...but also part of me doesn't care if she feels bad. What am I supposed to say about her experience in the hospital? Well, glad you asked! Aside from her dying everything went great! Thanks again for asking!

Now I know there is at least one of you out there that is saying in your dumb old head something like this:

"All you have to say is that your sad to let her know that your mom passed away and that you're grateful that she cared enough to ask."

Now if you're this person let me tell you right now that nobody likes you. Least of all me! You think I haven't thought of that? You think you've brought something new for me to chew on? Sometimes a person has to feel stupid for a minute. It helps that little voice most of us have remind us just how obnoxious we should let ourselves be before we should expect to get punched in the face. Please, for the love of all that is holy, listen to that voice before you email me or message me with that suggestion. Okay?

I miss my mom intensely and I still have a hard time getting my head around the fact that she's gone. She was the only family member I talked to everyday and she trusted me completely with her affairs during that awful couple of months. I battled hospitals, filled out endless paperwork, and spent dozens of sleepless nights with the hope that she'd still be here now. So if you work for the stupid hospital and you're in charge of the "patient experience" do a little homework to prove you actually give a bit.

With that in mind I'm simply not in the mood to answer her question. Not now.