Crouse Waste

A new tube, mask and straps were needed for my BiPAP, so the young respiratory therapist arrived carrying the tubing, straps and two masks, one large and one regular. She was quite forceful in telling me that I should try the large first.

Fact: The masks were in packages sealed at the point of manufacture. Once the seal was broken then either I would use it or it would be thrown away.

Fact: I’ve been buying these things at home for years. A mask retails at about $124.

So I picked up my old mask and held it next to the two new ones. No question—mine was a regular.

The respiratory therapist was prepared to walk up to the ATM, withdraw six twenty-dollar bills and throw them in the first trash basket she came to. Problem is, she’s withdrawing the money from your bank account, not her own.

1. Teach the staff to eyeball the masks before they open them.
2. Issue a six-inch ruler for the appropriate fitting.
3. Use neon-orange stickers and put the price on anything over $50 to make staff cost-conscious.
4. Make department heads responsible for auditing equipment waste.
5. After the third time an employee is wasteful, suspend her without pay for the equivalent of the amount she wasted.

That event was a week ago. Just now the nurse came in with the large mask still in its sealed package. The respiratory therapist had abandoned it in the nursing station. She did not return it to stock.

There are a lot of reasons why hospital costs are so high. One of them is that once supplies are brought into the hospital, the cost of the supply is disassociated from the supply.

Staff are not cost-conscious, and the hospital accepts that.

In a related matter, each day the nursing assistant comes to the patient’s bedside for “clean-up.” She brings with her a standard supply of one fitted bottom sheet, one top sheet, two pillow cases, a blanket, a bed pad, and a hospital gown. She does not first check to see what is needed. I only use one pillow case, no bed pad and no hospital gown.

Once linen has been brought into a patient’s room, it has to go to the laundry whether it has been used or not. The laundry then spends money for water, energy to heat the water, detergent, and human labor to wash the unused linen. The life of the linen is reduced by half as a result of repeated unnecessary washings. The hospital estimates that one-third of its laundry load is re-washing clean laundry. Multiply all this waste by 400 patients a day and 365 days, and you’ve got a tidy sum of money you’ve dumped down the drain.

All it takes to eliminate this waste is to train the nursing staff to check the patient’s room and find out what is actually needed before they gather up linen and bring it into the room.

Crouse Hospital doesn’t do it.

About annecwoodlen

I am a tenth generation American, descended from a family that has been working a farm that was deeded to us by William Penn. The country has changed around us but we have held true. I stand in my grandmother’s kitchen, look down the valley to her brother’s farm and see my great-great-great-great-great-grandmother Hannah standing on the porch. She is holding the baby, surrounded by four other children, and saying goodbye to her husband and oldest son who are going off to fight in the Revolutionary War. The war is twenty miles away and her husband will die fighting. We are not the Daughters of the American Revolution; we were its mothers. My father, Milton C. Woodlen, got his doctorate from Temple University in the 1940’s when—in his words—“a doctorate still meant something.” He became an education professor at West Chester State Teachers College, where my mother, Elizabeth Hope Copeland, had graduated. My mother raised four girls and one boy, of which I am the middle child. My parents are deceased and my siblings are estranged. My fiancé, Robert H. Dobrow, was a fighter pilot in the Marine Corps. In 1974, his plane crashed, his parachute did not open, and we buried him in a cemetery on Long Island. I could say a great deal about him, or nothing; there is no middle ground. I have loved other men; Bob was my soul mate. The single greatest determinate of who I am and what my life has been is that I inherited my father’s gene for bipolar disorder, type II. Associated with all bipolar disorders is executive dysfunction, a learning disability that interferes with the ability to sort and organize. Despite an I.Q. of 139, I failed twelve subjects and got expelled from high school and prep school. I attended Syracuse University and Onondaga Community College and got an associate’s degree after twenty-five years. I am nothing if not tenacious. Gifted with intelligence, constrained by disability, and compromised by depression, my employment was limited to entry level jobs. Being female in the 1960’s meant that I did office work—billing at the university library, calling out telegrams at Western Union, and filing papers at a law firm. During one decade, I worked at about a hundred different places as a temporary secretary. I worked for hospitals, banks, manufacturers and others, including the county government. I quit the District Attorney’s Office to manage a gas station; it was more honest work. After Bob’s death, I started taking antidepressants. Following doctor’s orders, I took them every day for twenty-six years. During that time, I attempted%2
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