Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Collateral Damage

He had worked for years for that hospital - a faithful technician in a busy laboratory. He had grown up in the country, married, had two kids. The rolling meadows, farmland and tree-lined creeks were what he knew. He had a sense of commitment to this community and joined their fire department and trained to become an Emergency Medical Technician.

As the kids grew, so did their financial demands. An opportunity arose for him to become a technician at a cath lab ninety minutes away, so he lept. Years passed and he grew to become a reliable, capable member of the cath lab team who took call like everyone else.

Unfortunately, the economy sank and so did the value of his home. He lived in a rural area, so selling and buying closer to work was economically impossible. "Golden handcuffs" they call them. He'd have to commute to make it work.

He managed to make it work until the day a new policy arose: the 90-minute door-to-balloon time. Hospital policies were changed. It was the rage. Technicians now had to be available to the hospital within thirty minutes. "Quality care," they called it.

But the logistics would prove overwhelming for him.

At first he tried to rent a room close by when he was on call. When he was called, he could clear expenses. After all, call hours paid more then regular hours. But the calls were unreliable and this proved too expensive. Another option would have to be considered.

He tried sleeping in his car. At least he was close by and the accommodations affordable, but sleep was difficult. He dreaded those call nights. Call was difficult, work a challenge. In the end, it was untenable for him and his employer.

And the inevitable unintended consequence of a central policy may have saved some, but at the expense of another.

And like Paul Harvey used to say, "Now you know the rest of the story."


1 comment:

emmy said...

Too bad the lab doesn't have an on call room. My son lives 2.5 hours from his job, but stays in the on call room when he is working.