Come Back One Day and say ‘Hello’
Tonight, Bob Woodruff appeared on The Daily Show. Funny I should start my first post back with this one particular fact. But it is one that stands out tonight. I will get back to it soon.
I promised to tell you about the life of a Hospitalist in a community hospital and that I shall do.
Medicine in a community hospital is a little different than in Academia. During residency, the patient belonged to an internist if he/she was on the medicine floor. But if things turned for the worse and that same patient was transferred to the ICU he would then be under the care of a new attending, the ICU attending serving in the unit.
But things in a community hospital are a little different. Here, I am your attending in the ICU as well as when you improve. I will be your doctor on the medicine floor too. And sometimes, if you go to the rehab floor here, I’ll still see you from time to time, just to make sure the old ticker is still ticking. Of course I consult with an intensivist if my patient is in the ICU, however, the final call on what goes in and what stays out remains mine, my responsibility, my decision.
In my short nine months as a Hospitalist I’ve accompanied many patients through their journey in this community hospital. I recall many whom I can honestly say would not be alive today if it wasn’t for something I did or didn’t do for them, whether they know it or not.
Some of you may misunderstand and figure I managed to pick up a god complex during those months too but that’s not what I’m driving at.
I guess the biggest drawback to the Hospitalist life is what dawned on me tonight. Looking at Bob Woodruff, I was looking at a man dressed in a suit, handsome, intelligent, well spoken, interesting, a man with a family who loves him and who seems to care much for his family. The entire time, I really mean this, the ENTIRE time I watched him I imagined the way he must have looked in that ICU in Bethesda. I saw him intubated, on a respirator, bandages across his head, half his scull removed. I saw lines, feeding tubes and urinary catheters. I saw nurses hanging IVs and getting CVPs. I saw the tears in his family’s eyes as physician after physician told them that their father was ‘critical’. Lucky if he makes it.
The single BIGGEST drawback to the Hospitalist life is this moment. When your patient has walked through the shadows of hell and has come out alive. And not just alive, Intelligent, Handsome, well spoken and a real family man, even dresses well.
This moment would have never happened if not for those same doctors and nurses in Bethesda. But if not for television, they would never have gotten to see what it was all for. Because patients almost never return as their true, every day selves. Only in another hospital gown.
I am still waiting for just one of my patients to come back to say hello. I hope one day one will.
Hope he comes dressed in a suit.