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Shout Out to Hospital Workers: It’s The Little Things That Count

By Margaret Martin, RD, MS, LDN, CDCES March 30, 2016Pearls of Wisdom Blog

If you’ve ever spent any time in a hospital, you know it can be a foreign, cold place even if your loved one or best friend is being treated there. The hospital decorators and designers do a good job of creating lovely places to sit in the lobby and waiting areas. Usually there are pictures and artwork on the wall and sprinkled down the hallways too. Yet, the individual hospital rooms for patients can be stark and institutional. The biggest thing that can make hospital stays better and can add warmth to any hospital room are thoughtful and friendly hospital staff.

As this is the month of Colorectal Cancer Awareness, memories of visiting folks in the hospital come to my mind, many of whom had colon cancer. I also remember the small but wonderful gestures from the hospital staff which made the hospital stays a little more tolerable for my loved ones.

Here are some of the little things done by the hospital staff that count:

  • A surgical tech bringing a warm blanket to a cold patient
  • A nurse aid going to a different floor of the hospital to get a cup of crushed ice for a patient who loved crushed ice
  • A staff member bringing in extra pillows so the patient could get comfortable for a great night’s sleep
  • The nurse delivering a milkshake to patient who missed supper while getting chemo, even after food services was closed
  • The surgeon waiting to make his rounds in the room because the patient was watching a sermon on television by Dr. Bill Sherman from the Woodmont Baptist Church
  • The chaplain coming in the middle of the night to the patient’s room because he was needed
  • An environmental worker bringing a puzzle book and pen from the gift shop to give to the patient who had no family with him and nothing to do while waiting on test results
  • The nurse tech helping a patient eat by using her hand around patient’s to steady the shaking spoon (The patient thought she was almost feeding herself and felt so proud of her progress!)
  • At Christmas, the volunteers hanging all the Christmas cards the patient received on the window blinds in the hospital room so the patient could see he was loved and remembered
  • The physical therapist singing while the patient hummed his favorite song while walking to lift his spirits
  • A dietetic intern remembering to bring a cup of hot coffee because the patient always liked coffee after a meal
  • The doctor arranging for the patient to have snacks even though snacks weren’t usually offered on the patient’s special diet
  • A whole hospital unit coming together to buy a book for a patient to read because he was in isolation and couldn’t have visitors

What are some nice things that someone has done for you in the hospital or for your loved one with cancer? Why was that gesture so meaningful? How would you suggest more little things could be done to make your visit to the cancer unit a little more warm and fuzzy?

Margaret Martin, RD, MS, LDN, CDCES

Author Margaret Martin, RD, MS, LDN, CDCES

Nutrition Educator Margaret Martin is a Licensed Dietitian and Nutritionist in the State of Tennessee as well as a Certified Diabetes Educator. Margaret graduated from the University of Alabama with a Bachelor of Science in Dietetics and received her Master’s Degree in Nutrition Science & Public Health from the University of Tennessee. With more than 10 years of experience in Clinical Nutrition, Margaret has also worked in the insurance industry with WellPoint Inc. and Blue Cross Blue Shield providing telephonic nutrition consultations, service assistance, and web-based nutrition education. In her free time Margaret volunteers with the American Lung Association’s annual “Lung Force Walk" in Middle Tennessee. She belongs to the Oncology Nutrition & Diabetes Care and Education Dietetic Practice Groups of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

More posts by Margaret Martin, RD, MS, LDN, CDCES

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