The Consultant's Desk

The Consultant's Desk
Poring over the details on your behalf

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Hospital Recommendations Upheld

The impact of the announcement left a humming chill in the air that resonated for several minutes. It made the listener want to stop and wait for the next sounds, the syllables that would unfold the remainder of the story, reveal the inevitable. Then the realization came that the suspense would have to wait until July 31 or later.

It was the morning of July 23. Radio news announced that U.S. inspectors had just arrived at King-Drew Hospital for a surprise evaluation visit. The hospital has a long history of troubles, poor performance by the workers, lack of discretion, and a nickname that sends shudders down the spine -- Killer King.

Earlier this week, the outcome of the inspection was announced. The hospital will be closed. In fact, one reporter stood in front of the empty building yesterday and spoke of the falling action of this drama. No emergency patients were being accepted. Ambulances were being redirected to other hospitals. Existing patients in the various specialty wings were transferred throughout this week to other facilities.

It was not the equipment that failed. It was not the integrity of the building that lacked. It was not 100 percent of the staff. But there were too many who were charged with the welfare of individuals who could not perform their duties. One reporter cited the fact that a worker could not accurately calculate the dosage that was to be dispensed to a patient. Another could not read the indicators provided by their equipment. Another left things unattended and problems arose.

This does not account for the tales of people being summarily lumped together as stereotypical entities rather than unique individuals. This does not include condescending statements that belittled the patients, making them feel less than human. And the fact that the hospital personnel would provide directions to one part of the hospital campus to another that on any occasion could be accurate or not is also not in the measures of credibility.

This last issue is important because if a person is seeking treatment for a health condition, it is highly likely that navigating two or more blocks to go from one part of the plant to the outlying bungalows on the campus may not be an easy task. Although there was a shuttle, it was difficult to actually catch it because it did not show up at the intervals that were supposed to be its rounds.

It was the screening and testing of personnel that caused the fall. The measures that were too low. The lack of taking charge of a situation that was not acceptable and letting it "slide" because the person in question needed a break. But a hospital, the health and welfare of people striving to live and care for theirselves, is not a place where people should let things slide. An individual's integrity at that point is one of the most critical issues and of paramount importance.

Let this second failure and ultimate closure be a lesson to Human Resource and recruiting professionals. Let this be a lesson to schools and universities. In preparing the people who will work in these environs, there should be care to make certain that their grades accurately reflect ability. Attention to detail is premium and should be part of the main concerns of the candidates. A first mistake can be forgiven but it needs to be attended with remediation. A second mistake needs more drastic measures.

In a previous post, there was an observation that some of the personnel showed signs of being heavily medicated on anti-depressants. Yet they were still on full duty in critical areas and managing records and documents. We will not speculate on whether the records always got into the correct files or not. The sins of the overall facility make that thought to terrifying to consider. But again, management and Human Resources should have worked together to find some means of providing time off until the reason for the medication was resolved and then return the worker to their position.

But that brings me to yet another observation about the personnel. So much reliance on using pills to cure anything and everything, from the least to the greatest. Again, there was no screening with regard to whether that medication was appropriate. In fact, some medications that have been found to be contra-indicated for use were still being prescribed. Other medications created physical dependency on the drugs (not addiction) that cause the condition to worsen and require higher doses. But the patient was still seen as the stereotype who would be suseptible to the family of related maladies. Indeed, the medications being prescribed would become the precipitants of the related conditions and add to the number of issues with which the patient contended rather than actually healing and freeing them from dependence on artificial remedies. Perhaps this last indictment is a failing of the training rather than the practice or the hospital. I will invalidate it -- for now.

We say in the recruiting industry that we are in pursuit of the "qualified talent." King-Drew shows us where things can go when we do not hold our standards as high as possible and settle for less than qualified. But King-Drew's Personnel department, no doubt, was attempting to give these "D" and "F" performers (according to Yaroslavsky) another chance at making it in a reputable facility. Unfortunately, they were given the chance to make it but not the support and supervision necessary to actualize it.

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