Celebrating Excellent Orthopaedic Care
Futurist Joel Barker once said, “Vision without action is only a dream; action without vision is just a waste of time; but vision and action can change the future.”
Anyone meandering down a hall at Beebe Hospital can’t help but see artifacts of the over 200-bed facility’s vision and mission statements on display as well as pictures of staff members who are recognized for demonstrating such. They are ubiquitous. For any organization, it is crucial that staff move from compliance to commitment with respect to those statements lest they become merely words on the wall with no implications for routine behavior and decision-making.
But, what does adherence to these statements look like and sound like to the diverse patients receiving services at Beebe? And, what background, training, and experience cause Beebe Hospital to be tied for second in Becker’s Top 36 hospitals for lowest hip and knee replacement readmission rate?
On March 1, I found myself on the orthopaedic floor of the hospital after having undergone hip replacement surgery earlier in the day. Previous to this, I had met with the knowledgeable Dr. Joseph Farrell and his assistants to discuss my upcoming surgery. Besides his eclectic and skillful ability in the operating room, I found Dr. Farrell to demonstrate the virtues of listening, not just hearing. He patiently focused on my issues and we discussed possible remedies. I didn’t feel rushed or that I was just another mundane patient. He was truly interested in my situation.
Likewise, just prior to the operation, the appointed anesthesiologist shared completely with me and my wife, Paula, what he was going to do, took me through the operation with no problems, and provided for me, in the aftermath of the procedure, a comfortable experience back to reality.
It became quickly obvious to me that there is strict adherence to the pre-operation protocols. I can’t remember how many times I was asked my name, my birthdate, what procedure I was having done, and on which hip the surgery would be performed.
One does not move towards this kind of surgery absent some doubt. Yes, it had been some two years since I was able to take a step absent pain; yes, nearly every behavior I hoped to demonstrate was compromised by my condition; still, hip replacement surgery was a major event.
After scheduling the date of the operation, I attended a pre-surgery class at Beebe. It was most informative. Those present were told, “Don’t expect to be treated like you are sick; you are not sick. Expect to be encouraged to begin moving towards recovery the day of your surgery. We expect to have you up and walking hours after your surgery.” The tone was tender yet the message was conveyed. The three nurses who conducted the class covered every aspect of what we were to experience and left time for questions. We were not rushed. Also, we were fortunate in that they demonstrated the various devices we would be given to help us through our recovery period. Tools to help us put on our socks, pick up items from the floor, and otherwise support our convalescence proved to be most helpful to me as the days of recovery unfolded. Their goal was for us to become as independent as possible after our surgery. I felt fully prepared for what I was going to go through and for the aftermath of the procedure.
My first couple of moments on the orthopeadic floor were confusing and disorienting, not the fault of the staff who would serve me there. In fact, they were not about to breach that fine line between creating a nurturing environment and the need to push me to take steps I would not have wanted to take on my own. With confidence and grace each and every member of the staff on that floor quickly and energetically attended to my needsappearing pleased to be able to help me. From the care of my IV to the meticulous monitoring of my vital signs, to ensuring that the level of my head on the bed gave me the most satisfaction, they were insistent about providing me the best possible care. That was important. Patients in my condition are wont to need comfort, encouragement, and direction. On this floor I received all three with enthusiasm. I was not the only patient on the floor, but I was a patient on the floor and they cared for me as I have not been cared for in any other hospital. It was clear to me from the moment I arrived; I was not the interruption of their work; I was the purpose of their work. For that, I am very thankful to them.
Each and every staff member, from head nurse, to nurse’s assistant, to therapist, to custodian, to volunteer, to the lady who provided sumptuous subsistence from the kitchen, treated me as an important and individual human being. Having delivered my meal, she also gently positioned my tray in order that I could eat in the most comfortable position. Paula remarked about how skillfully the Nutrition Services lady was at getting me to make my meal decisions in advance and within my dietary allowance. Ever the food critic, Paula is not normally a big fan of hospital cuisine. However, she rates Beebe Hospital’s delectable dishes as top notch. I concur. Additionally, housekeeping kept both the entire floor and my room immaculate.
I again was given an opportunity to use the tools which had been demonstrated during the pre-surgery class; I was walked down the hall hours after my surgery, a guiding hand near me to provide both comfort and stability. Eventually, I was taken to an area where I could practice walking up and down stairs and getting in and out of a car. I was constantly reminded of the three rules for my movement: 1) don’t cross my legs; 2) don’t pivot and;
3) don’t bend over when sitting to reach across the table for the salt. The constant checks for my feelings were cherished.
It appears as though the hospital’s consistent and persistent program of staff development, acknowledgement, recognition, and celebration is working. The beneficiaries of this truly are the patients.
Mine is a very long affiliation with Beebe Hospital, having been born there in January of 1950. My career has taken me to the corners of the Delmarva Peninsula. Paula and I returned to Lewes nearly two years ago.
Founders Richard and James Beebe would be very pleased with the evolution of the three-bed hospital they created over a century ago. And, they may take comfort in the fact that the next hundred years will be more than outstanding; they will be copacetic!
To make your proud personal donation or to learn more about Celebrate Excellent Care, go online to www.beebemedicalfoundation.org/cec or contact the Beebe Medical Foundation at (302) 644-2900 or write to [email protected].