Drinking from the Fire Hose

I am not sure exactly what is going on in the world to have caused the major increase in emergency visits and hospitalizations at Henry Ford Hospital over the last several days (or weeks or months). 

Maybe it’s solar winds, sun spots, loss of insurance, inadequate access to primary care, excessive co-pays or the leap year effect? It’s probably a combination of all of the above.

Maintaining high volumes of admissions by and large is good for the hospital. Better than the opposite. 

It’s a bit like: drinking water is good, while drinking water through a fire hose has its problems.

I do know that the teams of nurses, doctor, and all other employees at Henry Ford Hospital have been working at levels that have not been present for almost a decade. 

In the last few months, we’ve had the highest admissions of any January in 11 years, the greatest number of admissions (over 180) and the greatest number of discharges in our recorded history. 

It doesn’t matter if you are working on the front, middle or back end of hospitalization; you are experiencing high work loads, significant stress and strained processes.

Thank you for being here.

I was walking in the emergency department with Ronnie Hall, our COO, who I have worked with for over 25 years. Patients in CAT 1 were very sick, and triage patients, to our surprise, looked even sicker.  

Patients and their families were patient, but weary. Being sick and feeling poorly, waiting in a wheelchair or stretcher to be seen, is no way to spend a beautiful March afternoon.

In the midst of a sea of patients in triage, one of the patients wanted to leave before service could be provided. She was tired and just wanted to go home.

What I saw next should keep us all feeling good about those who work at Henry Ford. 

The triage nurse calmly talked to the patient and family, explaining how important it was, given the patient’s symptoms, to be seen.

She went on, in a caring and soothing voice, saying that if the patient was her mother, she would want her to stay to make sure she didn’t have a major problem. The nurse then checked the point in the triage and the anticipated time the patient would be seen, and calmly reassured the patient and family.

Many faced with the stress imposed by this type of chaos respond with anger, craziness, or both.  This triage nurse responded with care, explanation, and warmth.

We cannot express enough our thanks to each of you for the extra efforts you are giving, and the continued acts of kindness that you exhibit while providing some of the best health care.

Thank you for being here.

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6 thoughts on “Drinking from the Fire Hose

  1. Thanks, Dr.P, for the kind words and the pat on the back! It’s nice to know someone has noticed how hard we have been working and appreciates our efforts at trying to stay afloat amidst the sea of patients flowing through our doors. You made my day!

  2. This is a drink of fresh water, thank you for this article! My day begins in the cath lab between 5 and 5:30 am and I was just telling someone recently that I don’t know if the radiation from Fukishima has reached our airstreams (you missed that one, lol!), but I can’t help but notice the many mornings lately that there is already a family in the waiting room concerned over someone who had an MI, and the late evenings our staff stays for urgent transfers. Our cath lab at Main has been tremendous! Our staff manager Ed Muxlow who was thrown into an interim position initially, has been great juggling issues on every front and new cardiac adventures, and Eddie Arscenal our nurse leader, has spent many a late night when there was no coverage for various stations that our crew is responsible for; And our staff…I can’t say enough about the devotion and underlying camaraderie that keeps them working so well together under pressure. Thanks again for taking the time to share this Dr. Popovich, it’s good to know someone else notices it too!

  3. Kudo’s to Dr. P and Ronnie Hall for acknowledging theGREAT health care team this organization has. With our economic, political, and health care crisis facing us daily, I don’t know of another group of Professionals who are able to come to work, put those issues on a shelf, and provide customer service echoing “We are here to servce you” with such heart felt compassion, and understanding under such deveristy, when our demands exceeds our resources on a short notice. KUDO’S to all HFHS Employees. A mouth full, but I know you feel me 🙂

  4. I am a nurse employeed through the Community Care Services division of HFHS. With my husband having recent surgery for prostate ca I found myself not only an employee but a comsumer as well. I just want to add to the list of people who appreciate and admire the care and hard work of all of the exceptional staff in our health system! From our family’s standpoint, from the front desk in the surgical waiting room to Urology to Dr. Peabody and his robot 🙂 to the excellent after care on 6 S and teaching from Andrea and company dealing with some sensitive issues with humor and grace our experience left us impressed and very grateful! I have always been proud to work and recommend HFHS to those needing healthcare, but I now do so with renewed pride. Thank you!

  5. Dr. Popovich and Ronnie Hall,

    Just knowing that both of you know what it is like to ‘drink through the firehose’ means a lot.

    Thanks for your continued efforts to navigate us through this ‘perfect storm’ to address this unbelievable surge in volume and challenging bed access that we have been experiencing. We appreciate your continued support.

  6. I would like to be the first to stand up and salute ALL of the nurse’s, doctors and staff that works various departments within the HFHS for their hard work and sincere dedication in ensuring the safety and well being of all our patients, reaching out and going that extra mile. I’ve worked at HF main for two years prior to my transfer to HFM, as a patient sitter and I know firsthand what all it entails to care for our patients and their families. It’s always nice to know that what we (The HF family) do is recognized and appreciated. I’m for one is proud to be a Henry Ford employee. Thanks all of you for your ongoing continuing support.

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