Category Archives: community

A Salute to the Nurses at CHEO, the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario


Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario

The little girl next door was in hospital.  For forty-eight hours we were very worried about her; then all that remained was for her to stay in hospital for an additional nine days while an antibiotic was delivered intravenously.  For the first few days, family and friends took turns being at her bedside 24 hours a day.  Once she was on the

Cholera Strikes Dessalines, Haiti

Cholera Strikes Dessalines, Haiti (Photo credit: United Nations Photo)

mend, they no longer needed to stay all night or all day, but visited frequently enough that she never feels abandoned.

As I spent time with her at the hospital, it came home again to me that 90% of recovery is letting the body do its thing.  Once the doctors have consulted,

Portrait of Miss Georgina Pope, head nurse of ...

Portrait of Miss Georgina Pope, head nurse of First Canadian Contingent during the Boer war. Possibly in her nurse’s uniform from Bellevue Hospital, New York (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

examined the results of tests, made a diagnosis, prescribed a treatment and followed up, the rest is up to the nurses and the child’s body.

The nurses come in to check on the IV, add medications, observe the monitors but most importantly, they pay attention to the child.  They talk to her and listen to her.  They explain what is happening.  I have watched them patiently listen to morphine–fuddled child try to explain what she is worried about.  They look for ways to comfort a child in pain.  Sometimes it’s as simple as a warm facecloth washing a hand temporarily free of the IV.  They coax a child to use a hand that is still sore.  They brush her

Hospital

Hospital (Photo credit: José Goulão)

teeth if she doesn’t feel she can cope.  They carry the train of IV pole and trailing lines so the child can use the toilet.  They persuade children to drink and eat.  These are all ways of allowing the body to get on with its share of healing.

English: Nurses on the Army Hospital Ship Reli...

English: Nurses on the Army Hospital Ship Relief in 1898 while serving off of Cuba, US Navy Historical Center Photograph NH 92846 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

One day our patient asked someone “are you a nurse or a doctor?”  The nurse told her that you could tell the difference by how much time the person spent with her.  The doctors usually didn’t stay long or come more than once a day; patients saw more of the nurses, especially their own nurse.  Our patient thought a bit and added, “the nurses talk to me.  The cleaners are here a lot but they don’t talk to me.”  The nurse smiled at the astute observation, “yes, they don’t want to disturb you if you are resting and they have a lot of work to do cleaning the ward”.

Good nursing is a major factor in healing; it’s as true today as it was two

English: Navy nurses attending to a patient, 1...

English: Navy nurses attending to a patient, 1960s. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

hundred years ago.  So let’s salute nurses everywhere, their professionalism, their knowledge and their compassion.  They comfort the patients and their families and are often the first to observe subtle changes in their condition.  Especially let us salute the nurses at children’s hospitals and especially at CHEO.  For nearly 35 years I have watched them care for children in my family and now the neighbours’ children.  Thank you.

English: First District Nurses in Melbourne

English: First District Nurses in Melbourne (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Concerning Comments From Readers


My policy is to post all comments from readers provided that they are not abusive, illegal or fattening.  I do have one other constraint:  I am not comfortable in posting comments which refer to specific teachers, children, parents or schools by name or in a way that makes it easy for the general public to identify any of them.

You may have noticed that my criticism about education has largely been about ineffective systems which either cheat our children of reasonable educational attainment or load their teachers with demands that make them less effective in teaching our children.   I do try to temper my annoyance with leaders in education who buy into these systems because they are more interested in their careers than the education of children.

After twenty years in the system I still believe that almost all teachers have the interests of their students at heart and do their best to act in those interests.  I might disagree with their means but I rarely quarrel with their sincerity.  Some teachers are so tired either because they are overwhelmed by their teaching situation or an extra-curricular problem or illness, that they must reduce their efforts in the classroom if they are to survive.  Few teachers last long in the classroom if they suffer from any serious health problem.

It is tempting sometimes to pillory a teacher who has got up your nose in some way, especially if your child is involved.  Before you throw the first stone, however, ask yourself what stories might be put about if 30 pairs of young eyes watched you at work for six hours a day, every day.  Then imagine the mouths taking home stories about what they had seen and heard you do during the six hours.   Ask yourself if you have ever seen a child slant a story to get out of trouble, to show herself in a good light, to illustrate her personal biases or just for the excitement of making it bigger than it is when she shares it with her friends.

Then pillory the teacher if you can.

Schools can be very small communities so naming a school can make it very easy to identify the people involved.  Since critical comments often involve events which happen quickly in response to an incident, I am reluctant to embarrass people who are doing the best they can with what they know at the time.  When it involves policy, the policy is often dictated by the board or agreed upon by the school council.  It is never as simple as it sounds.

All this to say, I will not publish comments that name schools, children, their teachers or parents.  School boards and their policies are fair game; they have consultants and lawyers and all sorts of people to help them get things right; when they don’t, it is usually not for lack of knowing what the best choice is: it is usually because the people who are ultimately accountable, the elected trustees, do not have the backbone to make that choice.  Weak spines are contagious and will eventually infect all the administration in a board.