Sunday, September 22, 2013

One person's trash is another's treasure


Nasty Supervisor was on the ward when approached by a patient.  A lot of the patients are homeless and seek food and other treasures in garbage cans.  This behavior is discouraged in the hospital.  At the time of this incident, the garbage was especially enticing because lunch had just concluded.

The patient told Supervisor that she was missing something and wanted to check the garbage in case someone threw it out.  Supervisor gave the patient permission above my objection.  The patient dove into the garbage, furiously licking food off discarded cups and plates, and swallowing whole pieces of stray food.  Supervisor stood by with a disgusted look on her face, but said nothing.

The patient ended up removing a frayed magazine from the garbage, licking who-knows-what off the pages.  Supervisor finally spoke, telling her to put the magazine back into the trash.

"But it's mine!" the patient cried.  "Somebody threw it away.  I want to keep it."

Supervisor turned to me.  "Nurse, did you know that her magazine was thrown out?"

I stood there, staring at Supervisor, the patient holding a disgusting, beat-up magazine, her clothes smeared with food, a white substance dripping off her hair, the floor littered with garbage.  My thoughts centered around: This woman comes looking for trouble, and when she doesn't find any, she creates it.

I calmly stated to the patient, "Put the magazine back into the garbage can.  Go down to your room, put those clothes in the hamper, take a shower, and put on different clothes."  I walked away and passed a housekeeper who remarked, "Why did you let her dump the garbage all over the floor?"

A few days later, Supervisor proudly hands me a write-up and says, "As we discussed."  She wrote me up for disposing of a patient's personal property.

I've really had it with this woman.  (I've written this before.)  That so did not happen.  I am the only nurse who labels and locks up the patient's personal belongings such as cell phones, money, keys, identification.  Other employees will steal these items from the patients upon arrival.  And I am the one who gets written up for discarding personal property?  I admitted this woman, so I knew that the inventory of personal effects was complete.

I took up the issue with the Director of Nursing.  She is out a lot and does not even pretend to know what's going on, so I usually avoid her.  She had her response rehearsed.  "We looked through your nurse's notes, and nowhere did you write that the patient did not have a magazine."

"Who writes that?" I said.  "What nurse sits down and begins a note with, 'The patient does not have the following items.  Number One.  Magazine.'  There is a log of her personal property, where you can see that she came in with $5 in singles, one shirt, one pair of pants, underwear, and slippers.  Nothing about a magazine."

The Director replied, "Well, you know, if it's not documented, then it didn't happen."

"Exactly.  It is not documented that she had a magazine, so she didn't have one," I tried explaining.  Useless.  So I tried another angle, that there is no evidence that I am the person who threw out the magazine.  Futile.

"You don't have to be the actual person who threw out the magazine.  Someone on that ward, either a staff person or a patient, threw out the magazine.  As the nurse, you are responsible for others, so you get the write-up," the Director reasoned.

I went to the union.  Yes, there is a union.  Of what use, I don't know.  Salaries have been frozen for years.  "They should have been fired a long time ago," was the response from the union rep.  And yet this has not been accomplished.  What a joke of a union.

So I wrote a letter to the Director of the Hospital.  As previously mentioned, he is new to the hospital.  As it turns out, he is also new to healthcare, switching careers from building construction to running a hospital.  Of course I have not had a response from him or his office, but the whole hospital is whispering that I went to the new Director about nasty Supervisor.



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