When the House Manager Calls
Wouldn’t you know it, the one time in six months I’m in Bangor having dinner with friends I get a phone call. The restaurant is noisy, so I have to walk out to the parking lot to hear. It’s the hospital. “Scott, this is Jane the house manager. Your lab tech is sick, and I don’t know who to call to get to work. I’m in the lab right now, and I can’t get in your office.”
I get these nutty calls once in a while.
I’ve been told in meetings that the house manager is in charge of “the house,” meaning everything and everyone, and every so often a tech will complain that the nurse in charge will walk through the lab to check up on them. I’m sure all this is well meaning, but I can’t imagine what the laboratory means to a nurse. It must be a foreign beast. I certainly don’t want to check up on them.
I stepped aside as patrons entered the restaurant, squinted at the evening sun, and asked Jane, “What’s wrong with the tech?”
“She’s in the ER right now,” she said. “We need lab work done. Who should I call?”
She repeated that she needed to call someone in, didn’t know where the phone numbers were, couldn’t break into my office, etc. This was a weird conversation, but I’d heard it before.
“Jane, you’ve called the right person already. I’ll take care of it,” I said.
She reluctantly agreed. My guess is she smelled smoke from another fire that needed tending. As I hung up I didn’t envy her. I wouldn’t want to feel in charge of everything and everyone, especially if I wasn’t sure what that was. These are addressable issues, certainly, but not necessarily my problem.
It’s our responsibility to our patients to make our service an accessible resource to other members of the team, including nurse managers. If a hospital culture puts a single professional in charge, that burden creates an obstacle. Or is this nursing culture? I wonder. What do other labs experience?
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