Hospital rules

Axel and I quickly settled into our new grandparents’ routine. I continued to live out of my suitcase, wearing the same clothes as I did in Madagascar and Lomé. They were too cold for Madagascar, and just right for the temperatures in Lomé and too much for the heatwave in Easthampton.

While Jim slept at the hospital we got Faro up in the morning, brought him to school and then continued to the hospital. Sita was recovering very slowly from the ordeal and in considerable pain. The hospital procedures and rules did not help.

One night I traded places with Jim and spent the night with Sita. It was a sleepless night for both of us. It was an eyeopener for me as I compared this experience with having Tessa at the Beverly hospital birth center 30 years ago.

Although the nurses were nice, except for one we quickly referred to as nurse Ratchet, the stream of specialists interrupting all hours of the day and night is maddening – nurses for this, nurses for that, doctors for this, doctors for that, each demanding adherence to rules that didn’t always make sense. I was familiar with the hospital routine that insist that each caregiver first asks name and date of birth before providing care. You’d think that after this was established at first with the assigned medical staff, or if they’d just seen Sita 10 minutes ago, this could be bypassed.  But rules are rules of course and I am sure that the lawyers had a serious talk with the staff. The hospital had gotten some law suits on its hands a few years ago and the ownership changed. I could see the lawyers’ finger prints on everything. Good care is trumped by rule-following.

Even the person bringing the food tray checked name and date of birth; that was new to me. But again, I could see the lawyer waving his or her finger: deliver the food tray to the wrong person and we have a lawsuit on our hands. Can’t they not simply check the name of the room against the person? How many checks are needed? It is beginning to look like the TSA with five different people checking on what the previous person has already done.

When specialist advice went against Sita and my intuition about how to get food into Saffi we consulted the patient rights charter on the hospital’s website. It was written in language that, although meant to be supportive of patients, was more supportive to the hospital’s owners than to us ordinary people. We figured that if Sita used her right to refuse treatment, she’d have to sign all sorts of harsh sounding and unintelligible papers to release the hospital of any and all responsibilities, even those we thought were justified, like not putting Sita’s baby to her breast for long stretches of time the day of Saffi’s birth and the day after.  When Sita questioned the doctor and nurses about that some days later they responded with ‘that was then and now we are here!” Someone was protecting someone from something.

One night when I relieved Sita for a bit taking Saffi into the visitor’s room, so that the exhausted mom could sleep, I found the room both frigid and noisy. A giant industrial blower was turned on, apparently to dry the carpet under a drink dispensing machine. I asked whether they could please turn it off. No one was authorized to do so.

By day 5 we were told that the baby was still losing weight and she had apparently crossed a line that got alarm bells going. Having seen Faro losing much more than that three years ago and seeing him now, Sita and I were not concerned. But the doctor and nurse Ratchet were;  another rule got activated and formula was added to her regime. Sita and I resisted until we were told that under these circumstances Sita could be discharged but not the baby.  Since our objective was to get out of the place as fast as we could, we relented and embarked on a weight gain campaign and never mind the method.  Saffi obliged, gained a bit of weight and Sita and baby were discharged in the evening. Everyone is home now and we can make our own rules.

1 Response to “Hospital rules”


  1. 1 Edith Maxwell July 31, 2015 at 5:50 am

    Oh my goodness. What a blessing she was discharged. Holding little Saffi in the Light for peace and weight gain at home, and Sita for healing. And all of you for getting some sleep! Some day I’ll tell you about my ordeal in the hospital after John David was born. Hugs.


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