This week is National Hospital Week, which is a perfect opportunity to highlight and thank the hospitals, health systems, physicians, and every other healthcare worker who helps our communities.
There are nearly 920K staffed hospital beds in the U.S. alone according to the National Hospital Association, and over the last year, healthcare workers and medical professionals across all specialty areas had a true “all in” attitude in the face of a global pandemic. For some, that meant working ‘round-the-clock shifts. For others, it was building special entrances for patients who didn’t want to walk through the hospital in a strong show of support that reduced unnecessary exposure to the employees and their communities. Some hospitals, such as St. Luke’s Health System and CHI Health hospitals offered grocery-store pick-up and take-out meal service to everyone from volunteers to surgeons.
Then there’s Denise Fu, who supervises a clinical pharmacist team at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore City. Ms. Fu was tapped to prepare the first set of COVID-19 vaccinations administered to front-line faculty and staff members at the hospital. She was excited to participate, even if the historical moment made her a little nervous. In previous years, Fu and her colleagues often went to patients’ homes for medication management. Last year, they stopped doing home visits and even office visits at the hospital pharmacy – calling patients instead. “Now, we hand-deliver medication pillboxes to the patient at the door, and then we follow up with a phone call asking how they are doing, are they remembering to take their meds, and how can we continue to support them, '' says Fu. “A lot has changed.”
Something else most of us haven’t thought about: sick patients coming to the hospital who don’t speak English. Inspired by a former EMT, Marina Lent, who is leading Martha’s Vineyard’s COVID-19 contact tracing efforts, a group of Portuguese language interpreters recently completed an intensive course explicitly focused on the art and science of medical interpreting. Why? Marina has vivid memories of picking up emergency patients who do not speak English and transporting them to the hospital without knowing their condition. “I’ve been on ambulance calls where we could not communicate,” Lent said. “That doesn’t feel good because you know you’re giving differential care, you’re giving a lower level of care. You can look them in the face, and smile, and show compassion. But you can’t practice your craft.”
And what about all of those hospital rooms left when patients have been moved or discharged? Roark Nixon is an environmental services manager at Howard County General Hospital who leads a team responsible for cleaning and disinfecting those rooms. "When a patient leaves, we bring in an ultraviolet light that kills the virus,” Nixon says. "Then we scrub the whole thing down from top to bottom with a bleach-based disinfectant. And after that, we bring the light back in and clean the room again."
This past year has taught all of us a lot that we’ll carry into the future. For instance, equipment purchased to improve disinfection and administer treatments has been invaluable at places like Orange City Area Health System. They (like many other organizations) made investments because of the pandemic, but their usefulness won’t expire. “It’s things like the global air filtration systems in the hospital and nursing home,” CEO Marty Guthmiller said. “Those not only assisted during the pandemic but will assist us for years to come in terms of just having a better environment.”
Medicine is a team sport. And this is just a tiny fraction of the hundreds of stories we’ve heard from hospitals and community organizations that went above and beyond over the last year.
As we celebrate National Hospital Week, we hope you’re inspired to thank the doctors and colleagues you work with every day. Your work as a physician recruiter is important and woven into the fabric of the medical profession.
Interested in more inspiring stories? To celebrate National Doctors’ Day, we compiled these 5 stories you’ll want to read.