If you care to believe the recent media reports regarding the Metro Vancouver hospitals, you can do one of three things: live a very healthy life and hope you can avoid getting ill and therefore not requiring the services of a hospital.
Secondly if that fails, go online and find an A rated hospital elsewhere in BC.
Thirdly, I would trust the people who work in our Ridge Meadows hospital, keep my eyes open for any of the reported shortcomings, but in general expect much better care than the CBC reported.
I for one do not think there is lot of credibility to the recent CBC study of Canadian hospitals. First of all the reporters applied only five of the 21 performance indicators and secondly, as many of you already know, I had ample opportunity first hand to experience the quality of care our Ridge Meadows hospital provides and I would not hesitate to be admitted again should the need arise.
Did I find everything that goes on in the hospital beyond reproach? Most certainly not, but that did not affect the kind of care I and most of my fellow patients receive. The front line workers consistently provide the best of care to their charges in spite of often very difficult circumstances. I found them always respectful
For example, I felt sorry for the nurses on one of the departments. They are expected to measure and record the vital signs of their patients at the beginning of the shift as part of their general assessment; a very sensible and good tradition. There exists a vital signs apparatus that should make it quick and easy to measure the temperature, the blood pressure, the heart rate and oxygenation. That is a wonderful time-saver if everything works. However many of these devices had one or two functions that were not in good working order.
Consequently, the nurse would start collecting data then have to leave the room with that defective vital sign stand and find another one that would measure the missing data; the epitome of inefficiency! I would have been greatly annoyed to have to work that way, but not once did they lose their professional attitude. All in all I would rate the performance of the nurses either at B+ or A, depending on how close to burn-out they appeared. However the management would deserve a D rating for providing third world equipment.
Patient safety was clearly a high priority among all personnel and I would rate that aspect as an A performance. Response time to a call for assistance was impressive, considering the marginal staffing levels.
Cleanliness: As a very happy result of an intensive education campaign the doctors, nurses, porters, laboratory and imaging personnel all were meticulous in washing their hands and wearing protective gloves between attending patients. Notable exceptions were the people delivering the food trays and water jugs defeating some of the protective efforts of all the others.
A patient room is supposed to be thoroughly cleaned before admitting a new patient. When I was transferred from the ICU into a room on 3West, the RN looking after me nearly lost her footwear since the floor was extremely sticky around the bed and provided clear evidence the room certainly had not been cleaned the way it was supposed to be.. There was also a great deal of inconsistency on how often and how thorough the room and bathroom were cleaned. Some people did a great job and others indeed deserved a D rating.
All Metro Vancouver hospitals get their identical food from Ontario and I already have rated that even worse than a D in a previous column.
So far, the CEO has not taken me up on my challenge to eat only the regular hospital diet for one week without cheating.
My prediction would be, he would agree with the D rating and hopefully motivate him to negotiate better quality nutrition for the patients.
The negative publicity often motivates those in charge to correct many of the shortcomings. A very low cost improvement would be to let the employees know they matter and pay more than token attention to their observations and suggestions.
Many of the frontline workers expressed a feeling of not really being valued by their superiors. What keeps them going is the appreciation they get from their patients. I for one really valued their professionalism and dedication and even though I hope not to have to avail myself of their services, I would ignore the D rating of RMH if circumstances forced me to once again to be admitted.
Maybe by that time the CBC would have followed the example of our elementary teachers and done away with letter grading, Instead point out the strengths and weaknesses of the services the hospital offers.