Monday, February 18, 2013

Code carts and cold hearts

I am starting to get in my routine of things. I wake up at 7, leave the apartment at 7:45, hop on the metro, switch to the shuttle, and get to work at 8:25 fairly consistently. After that, I get started on my work, usually have lunch at 11:30ish, and then leave by 4. When I get home, I work out, make some food, do homework (which I really have not had much of), read, watch some TV, and then doze off before 12. Then I repeat the whole process.

This week was taken over by one big meeting pretty much. My boss, Diane, was asked to be on a committee for fixing the system of how the code blue carts are handled after use. (A code blue is sounded whenever a patient either goes into cardiac arrest or respiratory problems.) On the cart, they have the defibrillator, suction machine, oxygen tanks, intubation tubes, syringes, and a crap load of medicine and tools. It was a pretty archaic set up from what they said, and by archaic I mean from the 50’s. The defibrillator, suction machine, and O2 tanks should be on separate carts in the unit I guess.

But the main purpose of the meeting was to change the process after use. How it is now, it takes a huge trip around the hospital to get cleaned and restocked. An exchange cart is supposed to be on the unit before the old one even leaves; that never happens. The new process is to keep the cart on the unit, clean it there, and have prepackaged trays of parts in the pharmacy and logistics department to exchange. If the cart is extremely depleted or covered in blood, then it is exchanged with a cart in storage. This method is a lot more efficient and safe for the patient then the old method.

That meeting took up two days, Wednesday and Thursday, and then Friday, there was a camera crew there to interview certain head honchos around the facility on what new, innovative things the VA is doing. The main focus is of how the medical facility has switched to the patient centered care model of medical practice. That simply means that instead of the facility and doctors being the center of it, telling the patient what to do, and scheduling everything around the staff, they have the patient at the center, make appointments based around him, and inform him of all of his options and allow him to make the decisions on what to do. They focused a lot on the apps the VA is developing. For instance, they have one called My Healthy Vet that has the patient’s charts, information, and doctors’ notes on it so that the veteran can see what is going on and can interact virtually with their healing processes. They can contact their physician more easily and possibly virtually (I forget). The other app they are developing is one called My Capitol VA. It has a staff directory with bios, a map of the medical center, and allows them to make appointments/gives them push notifications when a spot opens up. The doctors also are using iPads and laptops to plug stuff into the charts while they are talking to them. It is really interesting to see new technological innovations being used like that. At first, one might think the apps are pointless because vets are old, but in all actuality, the VA’s see a lot of young people back from the Middle East.

On Saturday, my sister came to visit me! She got here around 2:15, so I hopped on the Metro around 1 to get across DC and pick her up on time. I honestly could not have timed it any better! Not to brag, but I kind of impress myself with how good at calculating travel time on the metro I am! Haha I say that, but this weekend, the Red Line, which I use daily, is under routine construction and has severe delays. Monique, my sister, and I went to a cool Latin-Jazz club in the Adam’s Morgan area, which is super cool. On the way back, we ran into some delays at Fort Totten, which is where we switched from one line back to the red line. We stood in the freezing weather for 45 minutes; it was terrible. I about demanded a free pass or something, but by the time we got to Silver Spring, I was too tired and just wanted to sleep.

On Sunday, we slept in and then battled the frigid drafts to see the Holocaust Museum. When we got there, the line was wrapped around the building, so we had to wait out in the cold for around half an hour; fortunately, the wait was worth it. That is one of the best museums I have been to, and I have been to a slew of museums! They start by giving you an ID card of a Holocaust victim that you read about little by little as prompted. You go up to the top floor and work your way down. The top floor is mainly about the rise of Nazi Germany and the history of Anti-Semitism. I honestly did not realize how anti-Semitic pretty much all of Medieval Europe was! Even Martin Luther was anti-Semitic! When he nailed the 95 Theses on the church door in 1517, some of which were denouncing the Catholic Church’s anti-Semitic beliefs, he thought the Jews would join him in his reformation and become Christians. Obviously, the Jews did not, and he said that they all deserved to burn in Hell, or something like that. I was really surprised by that. I learned a lot of Jewish history at Lincoln, and knew how they were looked down upon and travelled around all over Europe, where practically no one accepted them, but this gave what I already knew some concrete examples.

 After that section, it moved on to how the Jews were treated as the Holocaust approached. Eventually, it got the concentration and extermination camps, and talked about them being rounded up and exterminated along with Gypsies, Slavs, homosexuals, disabled people, and anyone else the Nazis thought of as sub-human. I lost all hope in humanity it felt like. In all honesty, I knew how this could happen, and how regular citizens could partake in such barbaric actions. I have studied the Stanley Milgram and Stanford Prison Experiments at least on 6 different occasions and classes; I know the effects authority, obedience, and compliance can have on someone. Please don’t think I am making any excuses for why they did that; there really are no excuses. Even though I am cognizant of how humans can do that, it was still surreal and devastating to see real artifacts, pictures, and videos of that. To see videos of corpses being dozed into a mass grave, corpses that are shriveled and look like mummies from the starvation and abuse, was horrific. The creators of the exhibit did a fantastic job planning, though. When you are wallowing in the shallowness and darkness of humanity, they lift the spirits by telling stories of how people tried to help those individuals. It raised the spirits to see the goodness of Humanity reach out and help as many people as possible. At the end, there was a video of Holocaust survivors. That may have honestly been the hardest part. I’m not gonna lie, I welled up a few times. There was this one story of this man who cried out to God and asked Him “How can you let this happen? How can you do nothing while Jews die all around me? I thought we were your chosen people!! Answer me!!” He waited for an answer, but he never heard anything. The second hardest one was told by this man who’s mother was in Budapest while her son was in a concentration camp. Some people approached her and told her that if she spied on certain people, they could get her son out. She did not believe them and refused. Somehow, her son heard about this, and he said he was so proud of her mom for not caving. That doesn’t seem like such a big deal, but the look on his face was the saddest part. Another one that stuck with me is when this woman tells the story of how she was in the same selection line as her mom and sister, who had a child, and when her mom heard that mothers who have small children with them will be killed with the child, she ran up to her daughter, took the child, and said “I just learned that those with children will go an easier area where they will take care of the children. Since you are young and can handle the labor the younger ones will go to, I will take the child.” Before the child’s mother can object, the mother tells the youngest daughter, the story-teller, to watch her sister, and then she disappears into the crowd. The mother saved both of her daughters’ lives and made the hard decision to take her grandson to the gas chamber with her. 

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