Today is one of the days when I’m hunkered down in a hospital for the long haul. As the sister of a complex, chronically ill woman, I am no stranger to long waits in surgical waiting rooms. Elizabeth’s last few surgeries ranged from four to fourteen hours in length, so I know to expect a full day of waiting. But the nice thing is that I’m kept well informed.
I find that during these long waits, I need two things. I need both information and reassurance. So although the information board can tell me where she is, I still want to know how she is. That is why I greatly appreciate regular calls or visits from the nurse communicator who offers both. Every two hours or so, the nurse communicator reaches out to let me know how things are going in the operating room. At times, various surgeons have called as well to let me know where they are in the procedure.
As a family member, I’m very grateful for this attention to communication. By connecting with me on a regular basis, I feel respected and understood by the care team – that they empathize with my emotional state and therefor have systems and processes to address concerns.
This is particularly important because so much hinges on this surgery. After spending the last 14 months in the hospital, we are hopeful that this procedure will allow her to return home.
Along with doses of information and reassurance, we have been given a bolus of encouragement and hope. And now we wait.