Friday, October 06, 2017

Patient Visit Protocol

Still no email about being screened out. It would be absolutely incredible if I got that job, but it will be fine if I don’t. I am starting to feel excited about the new job I already have—it was great to create an Outlook signature that says “Staff Chaplain” in it—and I also love being at County Hospital.

Today was my third day of orientation (of four) for my job at Very Fantastic Medical Center. They gave me the same user ID as when I did a unit of CPE there in 2016, so there were my electronic health record lists from more than a year ago, and lo and behold, one of my favorite patients of all time is in the hospital right this minute, as seen in my “Patients I Have Seen” list. She is even in one of the units I will be assigned to. I once read a chart note for her that said something like, “Patient’s room observed to be full of smoke. When nurse entered, patient threw a pipe behind her bed. Nurse was unable to retrieve pipe.” You particularly have to wonder about the sequence of events summarized by that third sentence.

At my new job, I have a partner, another per diem chaplain hired at the same time. Working on different days, we are going to share a SNF (skilled nursing facility) and an acute rehab unit. I will call my co-worker Carolina. She also did a year of CPE at the Truly Wonderful Medical Center, a few years before I did. At our first day of orientation, we had a presentation on what to do in an active shooter situation and got to see that alarming video yet again. Hospitals have a high rate of workplace violence compared to other industries.

The person doing this presentation had brought a bag full of fake guns to show us. One new employee knew all about this: “That’s a 957 with a 3S modification,” or whatever. I know this would sound completely normal in many parts of the country, but in 35 years in San Francisco, I have never once heard anyone speak with such authority about guns, and it was kind of unnerving.

I was very impressed when Carolina raised her hand, turned to face this fellow, and said, “I’m wondering why you know so much about guns.” He didn’t answer, but the presenter quickly said, “People have military backgrounds, and may know a lot about firearms. In an active shooter situation, I’d want to be near you,” meaning the gun expert.

That makes one of us. The next day, the gun expert didn’t come back to class.

Today we covered the sequence of events in regard to visiting patients. After another staff chaplain explained what to look for in the person’s chart before visiting, he said, “Then you go visit. You probably know what to do there.”

“We tell the patient our problems,” I offered.

“And cry,” added Carolina.

“Right!” beamed the staff chaplain.
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