All hospital employees are extremely important in order to provide proper patient care, even if they do not have direct patient contact. One life cycle of a hospital stay can go as follows:
1. A child falls off a swing hits her head; her parents call 911.
2. Paramedics stabilize the child and take her and mom to the hospital in an ambulance. Dad follows in the family car.
3. Mom goes into ER with the child while Dad fills out papers at admitting desk.
4. A doctor orders medications, dressings and tests: these orders are carried out by nurses, technicians and phlebotomists.
5. The doctor diagnoses the child, who is admitted as a patient for recovery, observation and further tests: paperwork done by unit clerk on the floor.
6. Environmental and maintenance workers prepare the room with clean floors and functioning electronics, while nursing assistants provide linens and personal items. Dietary sends doctor’s nutrition orders to the kitchen so the child will be able to have regular meals.
7. Patient transporters take the child up to the unit.
8. Nurses further prepare the patient for care in the unit, then care for the patient, along with nursing assistants, during her stay.
9. Doctor discharges the patient.
10. More paperwork, nurses complete their work and transporter takes the child to her parents’ car.
That’s a lot of people involved in the care of one child, and it doesn’t include security, groundskeepers, other administrative personnel, therapists, clergy, volunteers or child life employees. Doctors of all specialties, however, are the most critical part of the cycle for all of this to function. They have the training and knowledge that legally generates the orders that everyone else must follow. In short, they’re busy. They are the people who will most likely ignore you or be annoyed by your presence as a clown.
While some doctors do not think we provide much of a service, many believe in the healing power of the mind, humor and distraction. Either way, they usually won’t have time for you. They are not all mean people, they are just extremely busy. Not only must you not take this personally, you should really stay out of their way as much as possible.
If a doctor is talking to someone, providing treatment, doing rounds, or hurrying down the hall, avoid them and their patient. Your service is great, but not a priority. Do not go into a room where there is a doctor or nurse unless they invite you in. Sometimes you may be asked to go in and distract a child when a painful procedure is about to begin, or they may be curious to see you perform. Doctors like to have fun too, but they simply cannot always take time out to be part of your audience.
Lucy E. Nunez has been a theatrical performer since 2002 and an improv performer since 2003. She created Nurse Lulu for the Big Apple Circus Clown Care Unit in 2014. She is now Baptist Children's Hospital first-ever resident clown! For more information please visit: www.sunnybearbuds.wix.com/buds