Methodist Hospital San Antonio (Part 2)

01 Nov 2011
Author: Joel The Great  |  Category: Rants  |  Comments (5)  |  Add Comment

This is the continuation of this post: Methodist Hospital (Part 1)

I highly recommend you read that long post first, as it contains all the back story and other bits this story might reference to.  Lets continue to Part 2: 

First a small correction:

I stated my baby was in the NICU, this is technically true. But also technically she was in the Intermediate Care (IMC) portion of the NICU.  It is the area for babies that need help, but not severly.  Hence ‘intermediate.’  So all the dealings with nurses taking care of our baby were in the IMC section of the NICU.

At least they have cable.

In my wife’s room, there of course was a TV.  That’s great considering the NICU was offlimits for about 4 hours a day, and my wife was having to spend time in the room to pump breast milk for the baby (That required her to basically just sit there for 20 minutes at a time holding the pumps up to her breasts, perfect time to watch TV).

When you turn on the TV, you are presented with a menu of options, some hospital related things, or the ‘Watch TV’ option.  Once you select ‘Watch TV’ you are presented with two more options:

  • Basic TV (9 channels)
  • Premium TV (44 channels)
This seemed odd to me, so I went and selected ‘Premium’ as why not…then you get another menu.  This one explains that the Premium TV option will cost $11.95 A DAY.  And that’s not for a 24 hour period, that’s for the DAY you purchase it.  So if you get put in that room at 8PM at night, and select the Premium TV option, you pay $12 for 4 hours of being able to watch the premium channels.

 

So I exited that and went for the basic, because I’m cheap.  I’m glad I did.  We were there for approximately 6 days.  That would have been over $70 to have access to the premium channels.  I have cable at home, and the amount I pay for all the channels I have (not including internet/phone) is maybe $50/month. And it’s way more than 44 channels.

 

I understand running cable to EVERY room is not cheap. And Time Warner (San Antonio’s main cable provider) probably reamed them on the cost to offer HBO in all the rooms, but as with my annoyance with the parking, we are paying a HUGE amount to the hospital. Especially staying for multiple days.  They can’t throw in cable for free?  When I go to a Motel/Hotel that costs less than $80 a night I get more TV options.

 

Now it wouldn’t have pissed me off so much if it wasn’t for our start in the hospital.  When my wife got admitted into Labor and Delivery, that room’s tv had no menu’s, it had all the ‘premium’ channels playing (While my wife was still in the early stages of labor we got to catch the end of Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World on HBO).  We were given almost a full day of ‘premium’ channels to have them suddenly say, oh, that costs extra.

 

Then to top it off, later, in the section about our last day, in a different room altogether.  No menu options on the TV, and all the ‘premium’ channels playing nicely.  What the hell?  Either try to rip us off in every room, or just let us have your 44 channels in every room.  Consistency seems to be another issue at MHSA.

Lactation Specialist my ass.

When the baby was down in the NICU, my wife would attempt to breast feed her.  This being a new thing to both her and the baby, it didn’t get off to a great start.  We did take the freely offered class a month or so earlier about breast feeding, but a lot of that information sort of left our brains with the tornado of issues we were already handling at the time.

It didn’t help that my wife was giving her first attempts at breast feeding in a large room full of other not so well babies, only separated by a few screens placed around her.  The sounds of crying babies, heart monitor type machines beeping and making noises, other parents walking by going to or from where their babies are.  Of course breast feeding happened naturally without issue…NOT.

So since my wife was not having an easy time with it, we requested a consultation from a Lactation Specialist.  One of the things MHSA offers to new mothers is a Lactation Specialist who can come by and provide tips, and pointers, and help you get to breast feeding.  We asked one of the NICU nurses to get this set up for us.  That was within the first 24-36 hours into our stay.

No one came till the next day.  The first time the Lactation Specialist came where she could try to help with any pointers, she just kind of rambled off the two main baby holding positions you can use when Breast Feeding (Which we already knew from the breast feeding class, and tried).  Then she said she’d come back tomorrow (A full 24 hours later!) to see how it was going, and then maybe measure for a nipple shield.

Side note: A nipple shield is a thing that you can use if your nipples don’t cooperate, such as stay kind of flat, or something else. They help the baby latch on a lot easier, which helps get the breast feeding process started for both baby and mom.  Over time as your body, and the baby gets used to breast feeding, the nipple shield can stop being used.

The nurse who was watching our baby at the time was not amused with what the Lactation Specialist did.  She showed up, way past when we requested it, didn’t really consult or provide any information that was useful, and said she would come back the next day.

By the time the Lactation Specialist showed up to actually ATTEMPT to help my wife with this new task, it was almost THREE DAYS into our babies life.   That meant three days of my wife attempting to breast feed with frustrating results, the baby getting fed through a bottle (and feeding tube, but that was for the glucose issue as well), and the baby possibly developing what is called ‘Nipple confusion.’  (It’s when the baby refuses to breast feed cause it gets used to bottle nipples).

Luckily my wife was pumping during these times, so the majority of the bottles fed to our baby did contain breast milk and not formula.  This was just another annoying thing that happened that helped make our time there a nightmare.

A beacon of hope.

I know up to this point I have been mostly negative about the experience.  I would like to take a moment to praise one nurse.  Her name is Kelly. I really wish I would have caught her last name.  It’s one of the few names I can remember from the ordeal for two reasons.  One was she was very helpful and we were very happy with her taking care of our baby.  Two, I grew up watching a TV Show called “Saved By The Bell” who one of the main girls on the show was named Kelly played by Tiffani Thiessen.

Kelly was very hands on, very friendly and knowledgeable.  She was able to give us actual information that we never found out to be untrue.  She tried to help my wife be as comfortable as possible when we were visiting our baby, and even had some good tips on the breast feeding aspect.  If I was a millionaire I would have paid to have her take care of our baby the entire time we were there.

Kelly did such a good job, my wife was actually happy with her.  Under my wife’s guidance I got one of these cards they have around.  It’s a “You did good” type cards where you put in someones name, and what they did that made your day better.  A Kudos if you will.  We filled it out and turned it in. If Kelly is like that at work every day, then she will go far in the world and I hope she does.  If she ever reads this: Thank you Kelly. You truly made our day.

Back to more bullshit.

Later in our week, we were talking to a nurse, I don’t remember which one, but I do know it was in the NICU.  My wife was explaining how difficult it has been, especially at the start when she wasn’t allowed out of bed for the first 12+ hours, and couldn’t see her baby.  Then a bomb was dropped.

“That’s odd, I know they can wheel mom’s who are bed-ridden into the NICU to see their baby.”

WHAT THE HELL!?!?  No one told us this was a possible an option when my wife was stuck in bed, depressed and very upset that she couldn’t see the baby she just gave birth to.   It was too late to do anything about it, but it would have been some great information to have at the start of our journey.  My wife is still pissed at this, and if it is brought up in conversation she will get a little upset.

Bravo Methodist Hospital, you managed to leave a deep scar in my wife’s soul.  Thanks.

The fold out bed of doom.

I so wish I would have gathered a photo or two of this.  So in the Mother/Baby Unit where my wife was kept to recover for the majority of the time, it was a smallish room.  It had a hospital bed (One of those ones that you can elevate the feet, or head, or whatever.  Standard hospital bed).

Next to the bed was a large armchair type piece of furniture (Not a recliner/lazy-boy).  It was vinyl, and it had a sort of drawer in the front that pulled out to make a foot rest.  Then with that out, you could pull the footrest and seat portion even more out and fold the back rest down into a sort of bed.  I say sort of bed because it was atrocious.

It was at a slight downward incline, maybe five degrees.  It was covered in a vinyl type substance that didn’t breath. It was maybe 3 feet wide.

This was not really a fail on MHSA.  They had good intentions with the chair. It was a space saver, and allowed the father a place to crash.  Normally couples would only be in the Mother/Baby unit for 48 hours at most.  I only mention it to help you understand one of the contributing factors to the entire week being very frustrating.

My feet were killing me.  I was on them more than my normal amount. I was walking on hard floors instead of  carpeted floors that I’m used to (at home and  at work).  What I really needed to do was elevate my feet.  With this chair/bed hybrid, there was no easy way to accomplish this. I could either lay on it backwards, where my entire body is inclined so blood rushes to my head, or try to about 4 pillows to achieve elevated feet.  Wasn’t gonna happen.

Also, I’m not a fat man (yes I am overweight, but not by a lot), but I am a wide man.  When I sleep, I like to have some space, a 3 foot wide, downward slanting slab of vinyl does not let me get any good sleep whatsoever.

Again, this is not really the fault of MHSA.  Just understand this, for about 6 days while I was dealing with everything  mentioned in these posts, plus trying to reassure my wife everything was fine, and keep track of everything that was happening, I was getting what little rest I could on a very very uncomfortable piece of furniture.

Back off ladies.

Here is something to remember if you work on the Mother/Baby unit of a hospital (Where mom’s go to recover from child birth, and get used to their new baby if everything goes as it should):  DO NOT HIT ON THE FATHER/HUSBAND, ESPECIALLY IN FRONT OF HIS WIFE.

Now, I may be off base, but my wife agreed that the way a few of the younger female nurses were talking to me could be considered flirting.  I’ve been told I look/sound like Seth Rogan for a while now, but when you start flirting with me about that, and state how much you LOVE Seth Rogan, it screams flirting.

Extra tip: If you are just being friendly with your comments about Seth Rogan, don’t make a joke about it just being like the movie “Knocked Up” starring him.  If you haven’t seen the movie (SPOILER ALERT), it’s about a loser (Seth Rogan) Who hooks up (HAS SEX) with a “hot” chick (definition of hot varies by personal taste) and she accidentally gets knocked up (OMG THAT’S THE TITLE OF THE MOVIE HOW CLEVER!). The rest of the movie is about the awkwardness of two mostly strangers deciding to be in it together for the long haul for the baby.

YES, the nurses compared Me and My WIFE’s situation to a one night stand that went wrong. To me and my wife.  As our baby is downstairs in the NICU with no clear idea of when/if she’ll be able to leave.  And one of the nurses was one that looked after my wife for a shift earlier that week and knows the situation.  Paging doctor TACT, you’re needed at the nurses station.

(Okay yes I realize they were just trying to be friendly and try to make our stay more pleasant by engaging us in witty banter.  Still though, if you think about it…a bit off?)

The last day.

On the fifth day in the hospital, my wife discovered she would be discharged from the hospital (That means the docs thought she would be fine on her own).  My wife’s blood pressure (what they were worried about) was behaving, and there was no more need to keep her in the hospital.  The other good news is that same morning our baby was out of the incubator box.  Unfortunately that means they’d have to keep the baby until the next day to monitor and make sure that the temperature thing is no longer an issue.

“Well shit” I thought.  We live over 15 miles away, and it takes about 20-30 minutes to get to the hospital.  That means it would be extremely inconvenient for the breast feeding, and pretty much everything.  But at least it meant my wife would be fine, and our baby was on the way to being released as soon as the temperature issue was resolved.

We found out just before lunch about this pending discharge.  So we went down to see our baby before we had to go through those steps and we chatted with the nurse about our situation (being sent home that day), and how we wish our baby would be able to go home as well.

This is when the nurse informed us of a possible option.  It’s called “Rooming In.”  They have two (Yes I said TWO) rooms in the actual NICU.  They are reserved for certain situations with parents whose babies are in the NICU. One of the requirements I think is the baby is supposed to be discharged from the NICU the next day.  Since no one was using at least one of them, and our baby was out of the Incubator, we had the option to stay in one of those rooms with our baby!

The way it works is the Nurses from the NICU will still be able to check on the baby, and monitor her progress, and we’d be able to share a room with an actual bed (Queen sized I think?)!!

This was great, but of course, as with everything else, it was plagued with complications and miscommunication.

Dinner and the early check in.

My wife and I were excited. We checked with the nurse, and she said we could start moving our stuff into the room closer to our baby, and I got the nurses upstairs to begin discharging us.  As this was around 4pm when we started, we asked the nurse in the NICU if my wife’s dinner would be sent to her room on the 2nd floor, or down to the NICU rooming in room?  She said that she’d make sure to have dinner delivered down in the NICU, and also said one of the perks is that my wife would get her dinner, and they’d also bring a tray for me.  Even for breakfast the next day!

This was some good news because I was tired of walking half way across the hospital to the cafeteria to get me something to eat. It would take me almost 30 minutes to walk to the cafeteria, get me some food to go, and walk back to where my wife was so I could eat with her.

Closer to 5pm, we are upstairs waiting for our nurse to come finish discharging us, and there is a knock on the door.  It’s the nutrition people with my wife’s dinner tray. Sigh.  We ask the nice lady to just hold onto the tray as we are unclear on what is happening with my wife’s dinner.  Also I was promised a tray, but they only had one.  Obviously something wasn’t right.

We finally get discharged, I have most of the stuff down in the new room, and on the way out of the Mother/Baby unit one of the nurses insists we take the dinner tray down with us just in case.  She even goes out of the way to carry it for us as our hands were kind of full.

So it’s now about 5:30pm/6PM, and the start of our last night/day at the hospital. My wife is hungry, so I tell her to go ahead and eat the tray she has, while I go check with the Nurses Station (NS).  Note: The NICU has kind of a receptionist type window when you enter, it is to make sure that only those with access, such as mom and dad can go see the babies.  Germs and such being very very bad things for NICU babies, they have to control who’s allowed in.  Understandable.

I inform the lady at the NS about us rooming in, and how we were told we’d get dinner trays down here, yet my wife’s was delivered upstairs, and what’s the status of the trays cause I’m getting hungry.  I mainly want to know if one is coming, if not I can go get me some food from the cafeteria. If there is a tray coming for me, I don’t want to go spend money if I don’t have to (ironically I think I’ll be billed for the tray I might receive).

Then it gets weird.  The lady (I think she was a Nurse, I don’t honesty know) at the NS was slightly confused.  She explained to me something was wrong.  Apparently the way the Room In rooms work is as follows:

The parents are allowed to move their stuff in before 6pm.  At that time they are told to go away. Go get dinner, go make any last minute preparations they need to at home, and come back at 8pm. Part of this is because the NICU has that shift change from 6pm-8pm where no one is allowed to see their babies. Then the parents come back after 8pm, a little after shift change, and then their baby is brought over to their room.

We weren’t told this.  We showed up around 5:30PM unaware of this, and were all settled in.  The lady at the NS was very displeased that one of the NICU Nurses apparently forgot this procedure, or had no clue about it.

The NS lady went on to explain that dinner trays are not brought down to the NICU because of this reason. She does some typing on her computer, and made a call or two and found out: The nurse did indeed enter an order for dinner trays. They are apparently on the way, TWO OF THEM.  That means my wife who is now enjoying her one they brought her upstairs, has another on the way.  This means there was some break down of communication between the NICU Nurse who set up our Room In, and the nutrition people who bring food.

Then the kicker.  It took the food people almost 2 hours to bring the trays.  I did not get dinner until 7pm, when I was hungry and expecting food around 5-6pm (As all my wife’s dinners were brought to her between 4:30-5:30pm).  I was starving, and at the end of a long frustrating week.  This was not a good combo.

Food arrived, and it was alright.  Hospital food is hospital food.

At least they have a backup plan.

As the baby is in the NICU, they want to make sure they have emergency things near her, at least in the same room.  Most hospital rooms/beds have some hook ups on the wall that have like suction and oxygen and other things.  That way in case of issues they can, for example, put on an oxygen mask, or suction out the stomach.  Normal hospital procedure.

Well, in the room we could see none of these things, which didn’t register in our minds at the time, because we aren’t doctors, and our baby was having temp. problems, not breathing problems.  When the nurses brought our baby in our room (FINALLY!) they slid this painting sideways on the wall.  THEY HID THE HOSPITAL THINGS BEHIND A PAINTING!  It was pretty cool.  I of all people was impressed.

They slid the painting, and started hooking up the vaccuum container, and hoses, and oxygen mask (just in case, it’s their procedure), wait…where do they hook up the oxygen mask? The coupling/hook up thing for the oxygen was missing!   It was a bit disconcerting.

Luckily they had a backup plan.  They rolled an oxygen tank into the room and set it up near the other items.  Honestly this is a small annoyance.  I’d expect a hospital to have most things up and running.  At the minimum I’d expect the people who work in/with those rooms to know if there was some sort of maintenance issue. Again, I just want to point it out as one of 100 things that were annoying, or made me question us using MHSA for this whole process.

Breakfast, seriously…

After a mostly uneventful night, finally getting to enjoy having our baby with us (YAY!), morning showed up.

7am rolled around.  No breakfast.  8am rolled around, no breakfast.  I go ask the new lady at the NS.  She calls and finds out it is on the way.

Finally around 9am, the breakfast trays arrive.  One of them had it’s coffee spilled all over it (luckily not all over the food).  The tray bringer made a half ass attempt to clean it up, and left. Thanks.  Just what I wanted, a tray full of coffee.

But wait one damned minute.  When we were upstairs, the nutrition people came by and got my wife’s preferences on things such as drinks.  My wife and I do not drink coffee. She does not like coffee.  Upstairs she was getting extra juice instead of coffee.  What happened to that?  They didn’t ask her what her preferences were this time. They didn’t bother to look at her previous choices.  It was like the TDAP shot all over again, but about coffee.

Side note: I was exhausted (emotionally and physically) and trying not to run into a wall. I decided that the one non-spilled cup of coffee would probably do me good.  I don’t normally drink coffee, but I have in the past.  And I know what good coffee is. This was what I’d imagine warm cat piss would taste like.  Turns out it was decaf too.  It helped, but not as much as I would have liked.

The waiting…

Our baby was doing fine. They were done, we just needed to get her discharged from the hospital.  This required a few things.  The NICU had to do a few last minute checks, hearing tests, some paper work needed to be done, and a nutritionist needed to come speak to us about supplementing the breast milk fed to our baby (They were still concerned about her glucose levels and didn’t want it to have any reason to drop).

This was all fine and dandy, we were told this sometime before lunch.  They also told us that the nutritionist who needed to talk to us was stuck in something (conference, class, I don’t remember exactly), and wouldn’t be able to come talk to us till after 3pm.

Six days in the hospital.  Six days that were very frustrating and stressful.  And we can’t leave because there apparently is only ONE person able to talk to us about the supplementing issue? And she’s stuck somewhere for at least 3-4 hours more before we can go home?

Well holy shit it must be extremely important, and very unique if it’s something only one person in the entire hospital can do.  Want to know what the great discussion was about when she finally showed up shortly after 3pm?

BASIC INSTRUCTIONS ON HOW TO MIX A POWDER INTO FORMULA/BREAST MILK.  EVEN CLARIFYING THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN TEASPOON AND TABLESPOON!

Why the hell did we have to wait for this specific person to basically read the directions off a piece of paper? The same paper she gave us so we could reference it at home?  Why after 6 grueling days do we have to wait hours more for something any moron off the street could have done!?

Look, I understand they are doing their jobs. I understand they need to explain certain things in ways that even a moron can understand.  The general public has a lot of morons. They do need things spelled out from time to time.  But to make us wait longer for something the janitor could have told us is just ridiculous.

Traffic.

To top it off, MHSA is toward the middle part of a pretty dense section of the city. This last day was Friday. This means that the first time I get to drive with my newborn baby in the car is during a Friday rush hour.  They can’t be held accountable for the timing, but then again they could be.

If the nurses would have understood what was going on with our baby, we could have all been out of there 12-24 hours earlier. If someone else could have taken 5 minutes to read from a simple instruction set, we could have been out 2-3 hours earlier.

Just another annoying thing with my journey.  After all we went through, I get to drive in rush hour traffic.  Sheesh.

 

5 Responses to “Methodist Hospital San Antonio (Part 2)”

  1. Methodist Hospital - Fuck Them (Part 1) | JoelTheGreat.com Says:

    […] Part 2 of this story is now up, read it HERE […]

  2. Annie Says:

    I’m not quite sure how I ran across your rant, but I am so glad I did.

    I am so glad to hear that your wife and baby are doing well despite all the ineptitude. My daughter worked there for a short time last year as a CNA; I’ve heard some of the stories. The bureaucracy of hospital systems is supposed to create a better workplace; but it rips out any concept of customer service or apprehension of the term common sense (yes, I know the term ‘common sense’ is an oxymoron in and of itself).

    However, I have to admit that reading your experience has given me pause. Things around here are going pretty crappy and I bet were I to vent, I’d rival yours in length and content. (sorry, not intending to get into a pissing match.) …. oops, where was I… oh yeah…. however, it did help me to remember perspective and to realize that at some point, many moons from now, I should be able to look back and chuckle over the sheer limitless insignificance of some of life’s challenges.

    Please don’t think, for one minute, that I mean to insult or diminish what y’all experienced. As that is not my purport… People have a tendency to misinterpret my intention.

    Have to ask though… is there going to be a follow-up to include discussions about the bills… not that I am desperate to learn your business, but I can actually picture the scene in my head now… lol.

    Blessings and luck to you and yours.

  3. Joel The Great Says:

    Unfortunatley billing was all screwed up as well, but I didn’t document/keep good track of it enough to make it a worth while blog post. The two main complaints were the bills I wasn’t expecting, and a few of them had completely misspelled our last name.

  4. Loyce not so great Says:

    Joel, Evidentally you think a lot of yourself to call yourself Joel the Great.
    I am a cancer patient and have been in many hospitals for many days. You should be grateful that you have a lovely healthy baby and wonderful wife. Then, you should pray that you and all your family stays well forever, because most of these things are very insignificant in the real world. Nurses work so hard and so long- they have many other patients who have many issues. You should thank God that you are in the U. S. with insurance.

  5. Joel The Great Says:

    Actually, what I think of me doesn’t matter much in calling myself Joel The Great. I can’t help who I am. Also who said I was the one who gave myself that label anyways?

    Cancer sucks, hospitals suck (Hated them all my life). I am always grateful for my family, and I agree that some/most nurses work long and hard.

    Now that the pleasantries are out of the way, you’re wrong on a few things:

    Nurses work hard – This is not always true. Yes a lot of nurses go above and beyond, some work very hard, but you cannot tell me that every nurse you’ve ever encountered has been 100% professional, or worked as hard as the good ones. No matter what industry you interact with, there will always be people in the organization that don’t give 100% all the time. Maybe they’re sick. Maybe they didn’t sleep well because of a loss in their family and just aren’t into their work that day. It happens. I understand that. But sometimes you can get people who do more to harm than to help.

    In the U.S. with insurance – That is not always the best thing. It might be better to be in Canada with free health care. The extra cost for the extra days we had to spend in the hospital caused lasting stress for the first year or so after our ordeal. Extra fee’s, they mispelled my last name on some of the bills which caused fun interactions with my insurance company, lots of paper work, and just over all stress. Fact of the matter is even when you have insurance in the US, you still end up getting nickel and dimed to death with co-pays, and what they will and won’t cover. I don’t know if you deal with your medical bills yourself, or if someone else in your family does, but it can be very stressful. It might have been less stressful if the hospital would’ve handled their end of it a lot more professionally (SERIOUSLY HOW DO YOU MISPELL THE LAST NAME WHEN EVERY OTHER PEICE OF PAPER HAS IT CORRECTLY!?!).

    These things are insignificant in the real world – I’m sorry, the first 5-6 days of my newborn childs life were supposed to be a celebration of life, not an ordeal which caused lots of unneeded stress on me, and my wife (Postpartum depression can be a serious thing, and these 6 days of hell did not help my wife in that regards). Imagine if you gave birth to your first kid ever, and you could only see them for a few hours here and there for the first 6 days? That is not insignificant in the least. Those first days are very important for the mother/child bonding process, especially for my wife who looked forward to this one event for DECADES. Secondly, if you think this is insignificant, you should read more of my site where I complain about McDonalds and other crap that doesn’t really matter in life.

    My point is I understand what you are saying. I appreciate everyones feedback, and everyone can have their own opinion. Even though earlier I said you were wrong, that’s based on my opinion vs your opinion. Neither one of us is right or wrong. My opinion is right for me, and your opinion is right for you. But I would like to point out that anyone who is going through something stressful, or traumatic, does NOT want to hear people say something along the lines of “You should be glad it isn’t worse than it is.” If someone dies, I’m not going to go to their loved ones and be all “You should be thankful you got to spend time with them at all, the death is insignificant compared to the rest of life, in other countries they don’t even get to have funerals to say goodbye.” That would go over great wouldn’t it?