Monday, May 13, 2013


It takes a team to run a hospital

A few years ago my son worked for the Yale Repertory Theater, on the technical team: the lights, sound engineering, and constructing the sets.

We attended a few of the performances. They were excellent, and the actors were well-deserving of the standing ovation following each performance. The technical team worked so diligently to enable the actors to perform.  Without them, the actors couldn’t function.  But there were no accolades or ovations for the essential support staff.

The same can be true with hospitals and health care.  Nurses and doctors get thank you notes, candy, and cards all the time from patients.

But too often we forget the “behind the scenes” people who enable the doctors and nurses to do their work.

For example, the greeter at the front lobby information desk that cheerfully directs you to the correct department?  Or what about the cooks that prepare the food for the patients and staff, or the dietitians that ensure the appropriate diet is prescribed and nutritional needs are met for the patient? How about the maintenance people who keep the lights and technical equipment going so the surgeons can see and perform the operations?

How about the hospital photographer who films, edits, and produces educational and informative videos by clinicians? Or the communications department that creates the signage, writes the newsletters, and facilitates the all-important communication between patients, staff and community?

The surgeon couldn’t diagnose the patient’s problem without the Laboratory Techs who draw the blood and provide vital lab tests results, or the Radiology Department that provides the crucial X-rays. 

If the Environmental Services Department personnel didn’t keep every room in the hospital clean, it would be disastrous.  There is a Sterile Processing Department that ensures sterility of all of the surgical equipment. Can there be any more important factor in surgical success than sterility? 

Electronic Medical Records are becoming the norm, but it takes a whole IT (Information Technology) Department to keep the computers functioning and electronic paperwork flowing. The Medical Records Department performs the vital function of transcribing doctor’s dictated notes, and keeping countless records safe, organized, confidential, and available.

The Biomedical Department keeps all the medical and monitoring equipment functioning properly and makes certain it is checked and serviced appropriately.  If the heart monitors, oxygen, anesthesia or dialysis equipment fail, there’s big trouble in the operating room.   The unit coordinators expedite the medical orders, answer the phone, and are invaluable in coordinating everything.  The Social Services department connects patients to home care or outpatient services, as well as facilitates a safe return home.  These are just to name a few, it would take too much space to mention every person or department — there are so many people who make the hospital function.  Nobody can perform their duty without the vital involvement of others on the team.

May 12-18 is National Hospital Week, when we celebrate the dedicated staff of hospitals and health care institutions.  All should “take a bow” and be recognized for the invaluable contribution each and every person makes. 

Alice Facente is a community education nurse for the Backus Health System. To comment on this column or others, visit the Healthy Living blog at or e-mail Ms. Facente or any of the Healthy Living columnists at

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