Think back to your last hospital stay.
Or your current one, if you're one of some 11,000 persons hospitalized on an average day in the Washington area.
Did you feel like an intruder? Did the hospital's staff give you the feeling you were encroaching on their time? Or did they make you feel welcome, rather like a guest in their home?
What should you and I expect of a hospital's employes -- its nurses, technicians, orderlies, cleaners, food servers, clerks, cashiers, admistrators, doctors, interns, residents?
The following are some of the reasonable expectations you might have of these people, Wendy Leebov of Albert Einstein Medical Center in Philadelphia told the work force of Arlington Hospital:
*Meeting you eye to eye and smiling or saying hello to all "guests," meaning patients, visitors or anyone else in the halls or rooms.
*Whether you've been up and around or in a wheelchair or stretcher, acknowledging your presence and saying hello or a few kind words.
*Introducing themselves and saying what department they're from.
*Calling you "Mr." or "Mrs. Jones," unless you've invited them to use a more personal name.
*Answering "I'll be glad to help you -- that's why I'm here," when you've said "I'm sorry to bother you."
*Fully explaining the how's, when's and why's of hospital and medical procedures.
*Encouraging questions with "Do you have any other questions or concerns I can answer?"
*Asking "Is there anything else I can do or get you?" before leaving you.
*Showing some energy, not apathy or lethargy, when you've asked for help. Either tending to you right away or letting you know they'll help as soon as they can. If it's help they can't provide, staying involved until they find someone who can help.
*Using a respectful rather than a commanding or parent-like tone of voice.
*Listening without becoming defensive when you've been upset, angry or critical. Saying, "I'm sorry you had a bad experience. Let me see what I can do to help."
*Offering options and alternatives when they've had to say no.
*When you've had to wait for service, explaining the reason and giving you a realistic time estimate. Rechecking with you as time passed. Expressing appreciation for your patience.
Can we expect every hospital employe to behave in lovely ways like these 100 per cent of the time? No, that's not realistic.
Should we expect them to behave this way most of the time? Of course. Otherwise they should be in some grumpier line of work (like writing a column telling other people what to do).
Are hospitals becoming friendlier places? People at Arlington and other hospitals tell us they are.
Have you found it so?