Thursday, August 27, 2015

Equal Opportunity Disease?

Last year, in the height of the Ebola scare, the employee health doctor angered quite a few people by refusing to allow employees back to work after a vacation to Africa followed by two weeks of sick time.

It is customary for employees to take a month to return home to western Africa.  As the hospital only allows two weeks of vacation at a time, certain employees use sick days to cover the remaining two weeks of vacation.

If I did this, I would be fired.  For others, administration allows this to go on.

The buck stopped at employee health.  To return to work after an extended sick leave, an employee must be cleared by the employee health doctor.  He decided that someone who visited Africa and then was "sick" for two weeks should not be allowed back into the hospital for at least a few more weeks.  He was called a racist, but he would not back down.

Administration intervened and allowed the banned employees back in.

A nurse visited family in the Philippines for two weeks and twisted her ankle while there.  She called out for an additional two weeks.  Upon return to work, she presented her evidence- negative xrays and notes from physicians in the Philippines and the United States that her ankle was sprained but on the mend.

The employee health doctor will not allow her to return to work yet.  "If others can't call out sick after vacation, then neither can you," was the explanation the tearful nurse recounted to me.

"A sprained ankle is not contagious," I tried to counter.  Not even the union would get involved.

She's out of paid time off.  She said she will get another job if she can't return to this hospital soon.

Why do they make trouble for the good nurses, but protect the evil ones?

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

A Little Pumpkin in October

One of my first romantic interests at this job impregnated his official girlfriend.  She doesn't work with us and he keeps her details to himself.  Finding him on social media is very difficult.  His brother was easier, which lead to the girlfriend and her very open FaceBook, Pinterest, Instagram, and Twitter accounts.  She thinks she's going to be a famous actress, hence the forged publicity.

The Dear Girlfriend is due in October.  It's a girl!  This deluded woman has boards of Louis Vuitton shoes she'll never be able to buy on his salary and boards about her dream wedding- a destination wedding on a beach- just in case he decides to marry her.

On evenings when he was with me, she would post:
"My love is working overtime to provide for our future together.  Miss you XOXO"
I did not know this at the time.

The baby registry has her name- but not his, even though the pictures show both of them shopping at Babies R Us.

This hospital loves to spread rumors, so I asked a few key people if they knew who was coordinating his baby shower because I would love to attend.

I was near him in a hallway when someone congratulated him.  His eyes widened and he stumbled for a voice.  "That's what I hear," he finally said.

Own up to it.  He's been living with her for a few years and she is very much in love with him, based on their Instagram snapshots.  Be a man and acknowledge the family of your creation.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Putting the Patient First

I went to a ward to check on a patient post-op.  The doctor called me because nobody was answering the phone on the ward.

When I arrived on the ward, the nurse was on her cell phone and rolled her eyes when I waived hello.

I saw the patient and confirmed his healing status.

As I was leaving, the nurse, still holding her cell phone to her head, yelled after me.  "Excuse me," she belted out in an unpolite tone, "What are you doing?"

"The doctor asked me for a post-op report," I told her.

"You could have asked me," she answered, annoyed.  "You saw me standing here."

"I didn't want to interrupt you on the phone," I answered, and went to leave.

"I can get off the phone," she hissed.  "Patient care comes first."

Since when? I thought to myself.  I left.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Treat everyone the same

While passing through a hallway, I saw one of the paranoid, aggressive nurses going off on one of the managerial nurses.

Both of these people have gone off on me, so it was entertaining to watch them tear each other apart.

"I heard you talking about me under your breath!" aggressive nurse screamed.  Nevermind the patients and other staff in the area.

"I was humming!" manager nurse defended herself in a sing-song voice.

"No, I head you saying bad stuff about me!" aggressive nurse continued.

"What did I say?" manager nurse asked, the sing-song gone.

"I don't know," the aggressive nurse screamed without a pause, "But I know it was bad and I know it was about me."

Now manager nurse was really annoyed.  "Then how do you know that I was talking about you if you didn't even hear me?"

They went back and forth.  Finally manager nurse declared in a self-righteous, dismissive air, "I'm not listening to any more of this," and walked away.  She addressed her next comment to the audience.  "I can't make any headway with someone who behaves like this."

She saw me and said, "Can you believe her?"

"I can because I've experienced it firsthand, but for an eight hour shift, not just two minutes," I replied.  Nurse manager looked clueless.  "I've told you about her, and you told me her behavior was all my fault."  Nurse manager left.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Medication Education

An orderly was limping around the parking lot.  I asked her if she was okay, which caused her to launch into an emotional yet vague description of her bodily pains and malfunctions.  Then she produced a bottle of pills from her pocket.

"I just picked these up from the pharmacy because I can't function like this," she explained to me.  She then attempted to read the name of the medication to me.  Like most of the "support staff," she knows more than I do and often preaches nursing to me.

"Oxycodone," I uttered while she was still deciphering.

"Oh no!" she wailed.  "Darn it.  These are the same pills that messed me up.  I told that doctor, but he ordered them again anyway.  'Take three a day as needed for moderate pain.'  Lord, help me.  Just one makes me so sick.  Now I have to take three of them in one day?"

I tried explaining that they were for pain, which she seemed to be in, and that some people tolerated the medication better by taking it with a meal or before going to bed.

"I can't take all three before bed," she responded to my attempt at education.  "I'll be really sick with three.  I will just have to take one in the morning, one in the afternoon, and one in the evening."

I tried again explaining that she should try acetaminophen or ibuprofen for waking and work hours (which are not necessarily the same times), but oxycodone at bedtime.

"But then I won't get better," she explained to me.  "These are my antibiotics to cure this disease going on in my body.  You are a nurse, and I am explaining to you about taking medication?"

She stood there, annoyed with my my nerve in broadcasting my incompetence to her.

"By all means," I told her, "Go ahead and finish the whole bottle."

Saturday, August 22, 2015

When the Trash advises Clean Living

My "coworkers" pop up as friend suggestions at FaceBook.  After viewing their page, which usually contains little public information, I block the person.

These snaps were posted by an arrogant orderly.  Her grammar and spelling is not unique to social media- this is how she documents at work, when forced to write.

And she has no problem jumping on me, telling me how to be a nurse, what I can and can't do, and "how to talk to people."

She is another example of someone who is so volatile that supervisors will not go after her because they cannot handle the battle.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Floating Away

I was pulled from my quiet office to work on the ward one day last week.  "You don't have any work to do in here," the supervisor explained as she was telling me where to go, over my objections.

I put up with a lot to get into that office position.  I can't lose the position unceremoniously.

How to fight back?

On the ward, I received a vast collection of problems, all created and fostered long before my arrival.  The charge nurse on the ward actually expected me to fix these problems.  Missing medications, transcriptions errors, misfiled documents - "You can't just leave it like this!" the charge nurse exclaimed.

"I'm leaving it exactly as I found it," I countered, which did not please him.  Or the supervisor.

I have work in my office.  One of the more pressing issues was finalizing the operating schedule for the following day.  Oh well.  I wasn't going to do both jobs because that will become my job- floor nurse and schedule nurse for the entire hospital.  This much I know.

The supervisor fielded inquiries and then complaints from the operatory staff when they could not reach me.  Finally she called me on the ward and told me that I needed to take care of the schedule.

"I am not working in that area today," I answered.  I had to not care about the problems resulting from her inability to plan staffing.

"That is because there was no work.  Now there is work, so you need to go and take care of it," she responded, annoyed.

"That work existed this morning when you pulled me.  I informed you of this issue and you said everyone can figure it out without me," I answered back.

"Well, the situation has changed, so you can go back to your office," she said.

"Nothing has changed.  The same tasks that existed this morning are still not done.  I'm not working the floor and the office.  You assigned me to the floor and that is where I stay," I said.

Predictably, the surgical schedule was messed up the next day, resulting in canceled procedures.  The supervisor wanted to know why I let it happen.  "You were the one who pulled me after I explained the effect it would have on the rest of the hospital," I clarified.

"Still, you could help us out on the wards without screwing up things in here," she answered, totally missing her role in any of this mess.

If someone reviews any of this, they aren't going to conclude that I should not be floated out of the office.  They are going to determine that I dropped the ball.

No other nurse is assigned to work on a ward and cover an office at the same time.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Work Reference

Very few tolerable people remain at the hospital.  One of the newer nurses is hopefully leaving soon.  I will miss her, but this place is too stressful and nasty for her to stay.

She used me as a reference.  The hospital sent me a survey to fill out online.  I don't know if this is how it's being done now, but this is what I received.

The survey was about 40 questions asking about her work performance, such as working well with others, figuring out problems, leading.  (Don't get me started on leading.  If everyone is a leader, who will follow?)  I gave her the top score every time.  She is one of the best nurses at the hospital and she really needs to get out.

I sent her copies and kept copies for myself.  Many times in my job searches, I was told that the references never completed their end or wrote negative things about me, so I was out of consideration.  This probably wasn't true.  If the person from human resources says this, it means that the company doesn't want you.  Producing evidence that the references were completed and were positive won't win over such people.  But I still made evidence.

Work becomes really lonely when you have no pals there.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

No Work Thursdays

One of the women who works in my area of the hospital is like an assistant to a few doctors.  She is loud-mouthed and foul.  People don't ask her to do anything because she yells at them and doesn't do it.  I wish I could get this style to work for me.

One of the doctors told me that he was delighted that the hospital gave him an extra shift on Thursdays.  He arrived Thursday morning and went to his office.  Later that morning, maintenance came around, wanting to fix lightbulbs, and asking if any patients were going to be in the vicinity.

I mentioned that the doctor would be seeing patients.  The loud assistant said he would not be seeing patients and demanded to know why I would say such a thing.  I said I saw him come in earlier and he told me he was now working Thursdays.

"Just because he wants an extra shift doesn't mean that I get extra work.  He ain't gonna be seeing patients on a day when I don't see patients.  You can't give me more work.  That is against the law," she screamed.

Why is it that I have to justify my existence but this person is permitted to pull this nonsense?  Doesn't anyone pay attention?  Won't someone notice that they are paying a doctor to come in but not see any patients?

At the end of the day, the doctor said good-bye as he was leaving.  "It was boring, but at least I got caught up on my phonecalls and reading," he informed me.  How is this allowed?

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Drinking in the Morning

One of the doctors pressured me to attend a continuing education seminar he was presenting.  A bunch of other nurses were going and we sat at the same table.

The time was mid-morning and brunch was served.  This was a very fancy place.  A wedding and reception were scheduled after the seminar.

Mimosas were unofficially on the menu.  And I enjoyed the seminar a lot more after having a few.

Most of the other nurses were not familiar with American drinking habits.  A few of them also ordered "the orange juice in the special glass."  Hee hee.  They became so tipsy and had no idea why.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Annual Performance Review

Time again for the annual performance review.

Last year's review did not go well.

For this year, my supervisor has already let me know that I will not be getting a good review or raise.  She explained, "I did not get a raise again this year because of my late time.  Being late should not have any bearing on your performance review.  This place is so unfair.  Well, you aren't getting a raise either because I didn't.  If I don't get one, you don't get one."

So life is supposed to be fair for her but not me?

"I am not late," I tried to counter.  She was having none of it.

"As I said, I think that lateness should not be a part of your review, so whether you are late or on time is not a consideration of mine," she explained, as if this explained anything.

"So why can't I have a good review and raise?" I asked.

"Because it's not fair for you to get a raise when I didn't!" she exclaimed.

Is she a spoiled child in an adult body?  This place is so dysfunctional.

What do I do?  There is no effective official appeal process.  My supervisor's supervisor is the one from last year who gave me a bad review and would be delighted to sign off on another one.

Sunday, August 16, 2015


I secured a copy of Linette's "book!"

Linette is a bizarre, nasty orderly.  When she told me she wrote a "memoir," I knew I had to get a copy.


"Book" is an inaccurate description of this work.  It's about 4000 (four thousand) words.

Linette has had a very hard life marked by poverty, lack of education, sexual abuse, alcoholism, and drug addiction.  She has been to jail, drug rehab, and mental institutions.  She was brave to commit these situations to printed paper because, as I told her, she now owns her story.  She does not have to try to hide anything from others because she laid everything on the table.

The overall tone is not one of an excuse, or denial of responsibility; but rather an explanation about how it all happened.  She described her thought process during each period of her life or in each situation.  Although her mind was usually altered by drugs and alcohol, she was able to convey to the reader why she did what she did.  The reader understands her character and motivations.  Her conscious goal was never to hurt herself or others, yet this was the consequence of all of her actions.

For example, when pregnant with Baby Number Four, she tried to not use cocaine as much because she did not want the baby taken away at birth like the prior children.  After faltering many months, she modified her goal to not use cocaine in the final month of pregnancy in hopes that the hospital would not detect any drugs in her or the baby.  The baby arrived sooner than she expected after a weekend drug binge.  Resigned to losing custody, Linette got dressed to leave immediately after giving birth.  A nurse encouraged her to talk about why she was leaving and then arranged for interventions.  Linette was not allowed to take the baby home, but she was placed in a drug program and saw this baby during supervised visits, which was more than she had with the first three.

Today she struggles daily with living safely and productively.  She swore off drugs and alcohol.  She tries to be a good mother, but this role is quite a struggle for her.

When I looked at her before I read the book, I thought of her as a very troubled person with poor work skills.  After reading the book, I recognize that her troubles and lack of skills make it very difficult for her to function at a legal place of employment, but that she is still trying to make it work.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Just to let you know

Some staff were asking me about my recovery from a procedure.  Keep in mind that they have a general idea what I had done, but not specific, because it's over their heads and none of their business.  I'm not trying to sound snooty, but you can't explain anything because they already know everything and I'm wrong.  For the doctors, all I had to state was the name of the procedure and the location on my body and we were good to go.

The staff were telling me about all the people they collectively knew who had died or become paralyzed or are in a coma after having the same procedure I did.  Clearly we were not on the same page.  You cannot see me, so let me assure you that I am not vegetative, dead, or paralyzed.

Then someone threw in Pete's name.  (He's a know-it-all orderly who chastized me in my Get Well card.)  "Pete had that surgery three times and it didn't work for him.  He's worse now than before the surgery."

Isn't it weird how people ask if the surgery worked or helped?  As if cutting the body open and rearranging some organs can have no effect.

I told the crowd that I was not clear on what surgeries Peter had done, and Peter has been unable to name or even describe the surgeries.

One of the brats piped up, "Well, Peter is not a nurse like you.  Maybe a nurse would understand the surgery, but other people have a hard time."

So shut up about things you know nothing about!  I wanted to scream at them.  Instead I walked away.

Sunday, August 9, 2015


A doctor is really bothered by Kayla.  I don't know what Kayla's job is supposed to be, but I have never seen her working, only hanging out around the hospital.  The bothered doctor is not paid fairly by the hospital, in her opinion, and she often brings up Kayla as an example of how the hospital pays some people to do nothing but works others hard for too little compensation.

The doctor informed me that Kayla was promoted to head of her department.

"What exactly is her department?" I asked.

"Nobody knows," the doctor explained.  "But she is the only person in that department, so who is she managing?  Herself?  And now she gets a raise."

How do people get such positions?

Friday, August 7, 2015

Some Doors should stay Shut

An old problem is giving me a new problem.  Jess the orderly.  I don't know how to handle this.

Jess was transferred to a ward close to my assigned work area.  In this hospital are numerous exit doors, but they are locked unless there is a fire alarm, or you have special access.  I have such special access to the exit doors in my area because I have to open the doors for doctors and certain other persons.

Jess noticed that I have access and nominated herself as one of the special persons that I am to let in and out when she arrives late to work, or wants to slip away without being noticed.  She bangs and screams on either side of the door to be let in or out.  She loudly complains to anyone within earshot that I am a cruel bitch because I won't help her and she is in so much pain and can't walk to the front of the building to get to her car.

She parks next to my office area, which is a tow zone, but doesn't get towed or ticketed.  As far as I'm concerned, she can rot in hell.  Whoever she's sleeping with who allows her to park in the tow zone should also code her swipe card to let her in and out all of the doors in the place.

How can I make her stop?

Thursday, August 6, 2015

The Protected

Flashback to a nurse, my friend, being fired.  One of the threats against her was testimony that she threatened a patient.

This week, another nurse- a princess- threatened a patient.  Was she fired?  No.  She was transferred to another ward.

And an orderly actually got into a physical scuffle with a patient.  Police called.  Was he fired?  No.  Transferred to another ward.

Why do some employees get away with outright despicable behavior while others are harassed?  I know- some are protected individuals because of their connections.  But where is the line?

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Fault of Someone

One of the specialists dropped in to consult on a few patients.  My role is personal assistant.  I mean "nurse."  Orderlies bring patients and the charts (heavy, falling apart binders with papers shoved everywhere) to the exam area.

The orderlies scold me as if they are in charge.  Not a new theme.  Their two main issues center around:

1.  "Why did you call me when the doctor is not ready.  Now I have to sit here and wait.  You should have consideration for other people."

2.  "Why did you not fix the chart?  It's a mess.  Yes, I know I brought it to you that way, but you are the nurse and it is your job to put the chart in order."

This is the only place where orderlies think that doctors should wait for them.  "The doctor has to leave to go into surgery" means nothing to them.

A temporary air of calmness blanketed the exam area when the doctor, patients, and orderlies finally vacated.  Then one of the most dense and vocal orderlies reappeared with a chart and proceeded to lecture me on how wrong I was to allow her to leave with the wrong chart.

I stood there, silent, staring at her.  She eventually fumbled her chastising words and demanded a response.

"You can read, can't you?" I said slowly with an air of anger and stared right back at her.

This perturbed her enough to leave.

What is wrong with this place?

Monday, August 3, 2015

Mid-afternoon Memories

I would prefer working ten hour shifts four times a week.  Or at least I would like to try out that arrangement.  Everywhere I have worked has only offered eight hour shifts and doubles of sixteen hours.  A day off during the week would be nice to get things done that cannot be done on Saturdays and Sundays.

At least I can try to sneak in a little nap when the shift ends at 3 pm to recharge for the evening.  Reminds me of being in grade school.

Those nurses who have worked twelve hour shifts three or four times per week- how did you like or dislike that schedule?