A Tale of Two Hospitals

by Bernard McCormick Tuesday, April 28, 2015 No Comment(s)

It was November of 1977. Peggy McCormick was having a baby, and the delivery was tough. The obstetrician was Dr. Warren Stough, who had been delivering half of Broward County wee-ones for decades. He was greatly respected; in addition to his professional competence, he had a delightful Southern style, which put everyone at ease. As the labor dragged on, we asked him if there was a problem.

“No, Mac,” he said, “This is just a big doggone ole baby.” The big baby was 10 pounds and ultimately required a C-section. The baby was fine, but the mother had heavy bleeding, which took a few days to control. We took the baby home while the mother remained in the hospital. For those first few motherless nights, Mark McCormick, age 11, got up for the two o’clock feeding, burping and rocking to sleep his new little sister as if he did it for a living. 

When the mother came home, the bleeding started again in the night. It was heavy and we called Dr. Stough. He said we better take her to the hospital. He would be over in an hour. We got there fast; the bleeding was getting heavier. We were scared. When we got to the hospital, we alerted the first nurse we saw. The nurse said OK, they’d check her out.

Long minutes passed and the bleeding did not slow. It got worse. We told the nurse she better get moving. This was serious. She said OK. We also saw a doctor we knew and asked him for help. He said he would. More long minutes passed. Finally, seeing the bleeding was becoming a torrent, we grabbed a nurse. “She’s not bleeding, she’s hemorrhaging!” we almost screamed, literally pushing the nurse into the room. The nurse took one look and all hell broke loose. She ran from the room, a look of guilty panic on her face, and within seconds it seemed every nurse and doctor in South Florida was running into the room. A blood transfusion was underway quickly, but it still took several days to get the bleeding under control. During those nights Mark McCormick, pushing the ripe old age of 12, continued his two o’clock baby feeding. Almost forty years later he recalls his nocturnal activity as lasting about three months, but it was actually about a week.

This event occurred in Broward General Hospital (now called Broward Health) and it did not leave a wonderful impression of the hospital. At that time our opinion was shared by others. Broward General did not have an outstanding reputation. 

This was written almost 40 years later in the same hospital, and this time the father was the patient. And the situation could not have been more different. From the moment we were admitted after a strange spell that ended a memorable 50th Anniversary celebration of Gold Coast magazine, the staff of the hospital could not have been more attentive. From the emergency room staff, who were our first contact, to the nurses, who popped in every 30 seconds to take blood or record blood pressure, to the lads who wheeled you around for various tests, this staff seemed to be addicted to nice pills. 

Everybody introduced themselves by name, and the nurses were the polar opposite of the indifferent people who scared us half to death decades ago. They popped into the room often, often simply to ask if we needed anything. Due to local spies, we learned that a big part of this avalanche of attention is no accident. The hospital administration for the last four years, led by CEO Calvin Glidewell, emphasizes such good conduct because one of the criteria Medicare uses to reimburse hospitals is patient satisfaction. That remuneration trickles down to the lowest employees. This is obviously an induced behavior, but behavior tends to be habit forming. If there wasn't a person in the hospital who wasn't high on happy pills, we didn't meet them. This was not one man's opinion. Visitors who visited during several days all commented on the obvious dedication of the hospital staff. 

Nobody wants to be wished a hospital stay, but if you need one, it is hard to beat Broward Health. Especially compared to 1977.

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