TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: What Happened to Me

What Happened to Me

TELECOM Digest Editor (
Thu, 6 Apr 2006 17:29:21 EDT

You last heard from me on Sunday as I recall. I had a doctor
appointment on Monday morning to begin my cardiac rehab stuff, as a
result of my latest heart attack about three weeks ago. I went over to
the doctor in charge of the rehab thing (not my regular doctor but
another one there in the clinic). He took one look at me and said 'no
rehab right now; you have pneumonia in your lungs and we have to deal
with that first.'

I knew I had _something_ still wrong with me when I came back from
Jane Phillips Medical Center in Bartlesville, but I attributed it to
continued weakness from the heart attack. I still had very labored
breathing, (sort of an emphsezma/COPT condition) and was using oxygen
when I slept at night. But I _assumed_ it was all under control. It
now appears I had pneumonia when I was admitted to Jane Phillips;
Mercy Hospital (here in Independence) had assumed I would stay in JP
until all was cured; JP on the other hand wanted to first deal with my
heart attack (and the stent they put in me) as the first priority,
then they sent me back home figuring I would deal with the pneumonia
on an outpatient basis with Mercy. All last week I was quite ill,
although I continued doing Digest stuff namd 'making do' as best as I
could. I _assumed_ things would get better.

I get over to Dr. Dykstra (cardiologist) and Dr. Higknight (his
associate here) and although Dykstra thought that plan of action would
be acceptable, Dr. Higknight flipped his lid -- literally -- was quite
angry and said Bartlesville should have held me over and 'done the
entire job right'. My personal doctor, Dr. Walker, was sort of neutral
on the matter, but considering he is the 'low man on the totem pole'
here in Independence (the new guy in town as I mentioned here a week
or two ago) he went along with Dr. Higknight's beliefs. At the Monday
morning meeting Higknight checked out my lungs and said "no way am I
going to allow you to be in the rehab program right now! I am not
going to 'walk' someone around in the rehab room down-stairs while
they still have water in their lungs. In fact, I want you in the
hospital _now_".

Then he apparently had second thoughts and decided it best not to
simply override his associates (Dykstra or Walker [my physician]) and
said to me to wait there a couple minutes. He left the room, went and
found the two of them, brought them over to his examination area to
have them look at me and prod me; they then all came to the consensus
that yes, I should be immediatly back in the hospital; they called
across the street to the hospital proper and told them to plan to
admit me as an inpatient. I said let me go back home and finish up
some work, I will return to tomorrow morning for treatment. "NO! they
said, this is urgent, you are wheezing too hard, coughing and gagging
and tomorrow may be too late." They brought a wheel chair there but I
would not get in it. (There is an underground tunnel from the clinic
area to across the street at the main hospital building; they had
planned to wheel me across the street, apparently.) Since I would not
ride in the wheel chair they made me at least promise to _immediatly_
walk across the street and check myself in. (Which I _mostly_ did;
Monday was a warm pleasant day; unseen by the doctors and nurses in
the clinic I sat on an outside bench in the parkway area and had a
couple of my beloved cigarettes first _then_ I walked in the
ER/inpatient entrance in a dignified way and reported to the intake
desk. So Monday from about noon or 1 PM until today, Thursday morning,
there I was, hooked up to an antibiotic intravenous machine
intermittently and with a mask on my face and tubes in my nose,
pumping liquid into me and suctioning snot and muccus out of me, along
with a machine which would periodically pound my back around my lung
area to loosen up whatever they found was still lodged in there. They
also forced a lot of oxygen into my nose. Each day, Tuesday, Wednesday
and today, Dr. Walker came around to probe me a bit more. Yesterday
he said, "well you are sounding a lot better, if you continue sounding
okay like this I will let you go home tomorrow." Apparently I did
sound better because this morning he came around and said I was being

OB-TELECOM and MERCY HOSPITAL DATACOM: _Everything_ at Mercy Hospital
is computerized. Everytime a human being came into my room to
variously change the antibiotic bag or feed me some pills or pound my
back or for that matter to dump my piss-pot urinal in the toilet they
would make entries on a lap top computer they brought with them and
plugged into a connection in my room. First thing they always did was
plug in the computer, scan my wrist band, watch to see it pop up on
the computer screen, then evaluate the medications the computer said
were appropriate and scheduled. Then they would scan their own wrist
band (to show who was administering what) and proceed to pop the pills
into me or connect up the IV drip or whatever. Before they would even
empty the urinal container they would note the numbers on the side,
scan my arm band, etc. No paper charts, no manual records of any
kind. Even Dr. Walker had to scan his ID card each time he came into
my room when he would write his commentary there on his lap top. And of
course, when they left the room, the lap top went with them. No reason
to leave it there for patients -- or 'others' to be tempted by!

This being a small town, the hospital full time -- paid -- chaplain
happens to by coincidence also be the (unpaid) priest at the
Episcopal Church of the Epiphany where I attend; so I had a good
chance to pick his brains a bit about the computer and telephone
system there. He said the main reason for having all the medications
audited and tracked by the computer was because "The Sisters of Mercy
out of St. Louis (hospital administrators) 'have had some problems
in the past with missing medications, patient complaints, etc". He
quite agreed the system was not fool-proof, but when it booted up in
each patient's room it did present some sort of message from Microsoft
about what it was doing, and he said among other things, it did remove
the possibility of 'human error' in noting the administration of
drugs to the patients, etc.

I asked him if it was possible the computer could mis-diagnose an
illness or the amount or type of medication to dispense, he said it
did not do that; "_anything_ it does requires human approval, it is
not a computerized physician or pharmacist, mostly just an auditor of
what the human beings around here do. 'St. Louis' gets all these
records every day also automatically transmitted. 'Big Sisters' in
St. Louis know what is going on here as soon as we know." How
interesting. Every doctor's note, every pill given out, etc. Apparently
even small town hospitals like ours have some 'big city' problems like
drug abuse and 'evil-nurse' syndromes from time to time.

THE PHONE SYSTEM: Mercy Hospital's main switchboard is 620-331-2200.
Patient rooms are all direct dial as 620-330-8xyz where X is the
floor number, Y and Z are the bed number and room number. Those of
you who called me called both ways: some via 331-2200 and asking the
operator for me, others by the direct-to-room method. It is not a very
large place, I suppose 50-60 patient rooms total. Lobby plus two floors
of patient rooms, and basement with cafeteria, etc.

Not a single _wired_ phone where staff is concerned. Patient phones
were wired, of course, but every staff person had a cellular phone.
They called them 'hospital phones', and claimed they were on a
different frequency than cellular; to me they just appeared to be
cellular phones, and not their personal cells either. They would
answer them _by their department name_ even when in patient rooms. On
the roof of the main hospital building here and there I would see
little antennas stuck around everywhere, that is what they worked
with I guess. Even though these 'hospital' (really cellular?) phones
looked and acted like cell phones in general, I noticed that when
they had occassion to call another employee or department they only
punched out four digits as though it was an extension. Every phone
of this type I saw had a notation on it saying 'BLUE 2911' and
'RED 5911'. And when I was in the doctor's office on Monday getting
told to immediatly go check in at the hospital, Dr. Higknight's
phone was the same way, four digits dialed got him the intake
department across the street at the hospital, and '9' got him an
outside line. His phone was a 'hospital' (cellular?) phone as well.

Well, that's what I have doing all this past week; sorry to cause
the Digest to run a few days behind schedule once again, but I had
no real choice; the three doctors all said "you _WILL_ be admitted
now to the hospital; not tomorrow when you might 'forget' to return
here; not later tonight, but _NOW_. Either walk across the street on
your own (and sneak in a cigarette break on the way) or Nurse Jane
will push you through the tunnel in a wheel chair, your choice, but
one way or the other." I hope not to see it happen again.


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