ICU is a terrifying place for families. They are dealing with handing over their loved one to strangers who speak a terrifying language. The families understand an occasional word of this new frightening language and yet are expected to act like it is all understandable. The rules if the ICU are strange and much like having your loved one in a prison, only at least in a prison they tell you exactly what you can and cannot do in clear words.
The gate keeper of the ICU is the Unit Clerk. This crucial role, the first face and contact is given to those least able to provide a welcoming presence. Frightened people don’t often see signs and instructions of more than a word or two – Stop. Go. – are often unprocessed depending upon the level of fear and anxiety. Yet the first person they meet when they enter this ICU is the GateKeeper. A frighteningly cruel witch who interrogates them and points out exactly what they did wrong and how they have already fail the admission test. None Shall Pass who cannot provide the correct answers.
The frightened young man explained he was her to see his mother and the GateKeeper informed him
‘This is ICU. You have to call in first!’
She didn’t get up from her post behind the desk. She didn’t greet him and introduce herself and ask if she could help him. She just barked orders at him. Unfortunately this behaviour is not isolated to one individual. It is the SOP. The Standard Operating Procedure – the Way Things Are Done here that then guides anyone else who is put in that role. And so not a single person who is placed with the singular job role of greeting the families, performs as a Greeter. I have in fact observed some individuals in the role actually tell families they have to go back outside the doors and call in. Despite the observable fact they are standing right in front of the desk asking for directions. These gatekeepers are the reason today I will quit. This behaviour has been identified as hurtful. It has been recommended to be changed, and yet, it continues to be the strategy for entrance into the ICU.
I recommend we hire Walmart Greeters. At least they smile and say Hi. And they would likely cost less.