March 23, 2005
Next time I'm going to McDonalds
An article today on CBC caught my attention. A study has found that restaurants are cleaner than some hospitals in Canada. In part, the article states:

No level of government – city, provincial or federal – is in charge of monitoring infection controls at hospitals. That contrasts with the restaurant industry, in which eateries must pass regular health inspections or face being shut down.
Read the rest of the article here.

Since privatizing the sanitation of our hospitals, there has been a serious backslide in the care taken to keep things clean, and people are paying the price. On top of that, the beds turn over so quickly, that there really isn't time to properly clean in between patients. It's a scary situation, which in the end costs us more trying to fix the mistakes made.

Personally, I have seen some pretty embarrassing examples of this during my recent hospital trips. I wrote about the conditions of the waiting room and ER back in December, when I was admitted for kidney issues. Imagine having to give a sample, entering the ER bathroom to find the toilet seat covered in blood. Would you want to sit down?

Last year, I was admitted to the hospital for a perforated colon. While I was there, I contracted Clostridium difficile, a bacterial infection that came very close to taking my life. It used to be a term unheard of, but now is becoming well known as the cases explode. I was lucky. It was caught early, but it is terrifying to think how close I came. However, while I was there, I witnessed some very awful things. Full bedpans left in hallways for over 6 hours, a bloodied bandage on the floor outside my room stayed there, kicked from one side to the next, for 2 days. I was moved to a private room, which had a janitor come in twice a day and swab the floors, quickly clean the bathroom and move on. No more than 10 minutes, and I was in a critical care ward! My Mom moved a chair closer the bed and was shocked to find dirt built up under the legs of the chair that it took a good tug to move.

That's some of what I've seen personally. Meanwhile, in the last 6 months, my sister in law and my friend have both come down with the 'Superbug'. For my sister in law, she had a very minor bladder surgery and contracted the drug-resistant bug at the hospital. She was in ICU for 3 days and it looked pretty scary but she pulled through. With my friend, she had a small growth that needed lancing in the ER. There, she also came down with the bug and was in serious trouble for about a month. By the way, both of those incidents are at the same hospital my brother is currently at.

I will say though, that the care my brother has received (with the exception of the 6 day wait for transfer to the other hospital) has been exemplary. The ICU unit he is in is immaculate and I can't say enough about how well he has been taken care of.

When my aunt was admitted into the hospital last November for a stroke, there was a large mass of some sort of bodily fluid on the floor beside her bed. My Dad, horrified, covered it with a towel and called the nurse to page housekeeping. The nurse looked at the towel, and said 'Oh that shouldn't be there' and picked up the towel, thinking that's what my Dad was concerned about. Upon seeing the dirty floor, she remarked "Don't worry about that. It's dry."

The confidence level though in the system is so low though, that we praise for such small things as no litter or nice, sunny rooms. We tend to look at the surface, as thinking about anything deeper makes us cringe.

I am well aware that the hospital workers are overworked, given much demand and no means to properly care for people in the manner they should. I have heard many nurses lament that they know things are falling through the cracks, but there is little that can be done given the situation. The cleaners can do a cursory job, but with the beds so overbooked, and turnover so high, time is not on their side and there are far too few people to take care of it at all. But the cost of not taking care of the small things end up costing our system far too much, both in care expenses and in the cost to society in general.

It's not a comforting feeling to know that going to the hospital may actually end up making you worse than you would be otherwise.

Vancouver, British Columbia
A patriotic Canadian full of visions of a better Canada, random thoughts and a lot of hot air. Who am I? A struggling writer and photographer, who looks forward to a better Canada. I read. A lot. I learn. A lot. I push myself. A lot. The world is a small place, and getting smaller every day. I'm proud to have friends in every corner of the earth, and abide by the old adage that there are no strangers, only friends we haven't met yet.
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