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Restoring the Public’s Faith in Hospitals and Health Care

Posted Sep 07 2008 8:37pm

Guest Post by Heather Johnson

Over the last several years, much has been done to attempt to “fix” health care, hospitals, and public health. With somewhat noble intentions, new laws like HIPAA have been passed, as have innovations in the way hospitals do business, treat patients, and promote themselves in general. One thing is missing, however: the public still lacks the necessary faith in hospitals as well as the health care system in general. The fact of the matter is many people still wait until it is almost too late to receive much-needed care and treatment.

You Can Change the Look, But Not the Feel

Many hospitals have gone to giving some or all of their rooms the hotel or resort look in order to eliminate the sterile feeling hospitals give some patients. The thought process is correct here; however, you cannot simply make things look different and expect a shift in the quality of care to occur. If patients and relatives are not treated like guests, it does not matter how well-decorated the room is. Bedside manner and a smile go a long way in helping patients to feel at home.

Falling Through the Cracks: The Middle-Class Gap

Currently in the United States, there are two groups of people that seem to get their health care needs met: the wealthy and the extremely poor. People with money can afford the treatments and care needed to sustain their quality of life. Conversely, the poor can utilize Medicaid, which covers most, if not all, of the costs when it comes to receiving treatment at a hospital, especially when it comes to maternity care. Of course, the poor may not be getting the care they need until the last minute, but they are covered nonetheless—without the fear of being unable to pay.

One of the biggest problems with the current state of health care is that middle-class people fall into the gap between the haves and the have-nots. Many lower middle-class people make just enough to not qualify for Medicaid, but cannot afford health insurance. With the rising costs of hospital care and health care in general, these people are simply unable to afford to get the care they need. Some are reluctant to visit the hospital, even when they may really need to, out of fear that unpaid medical bills will ruin their credit.

Shifting Mentality: What is Needed to Change Public Perception

Getting back to the basic principle of treat everyone how you would like to be treated is the main focus here. A great bedside manner goes a long way, as does a smile. Taking time (even when it feels like there is none) to talk with patients and get to know them makes people feel better. People need to know that hospitals and health care professionals are not “out to get them.” A lot could be done for the hospital industry if people demonstrated a little compassion for those who are unable to pay right away as well. Hospitals are a business, most definitely, but at what cost?

This post was contributed by Heather Johnson, who writes on the subject of top nursing schools. She invites your feedback at heatherjohnson2323 at gmail dot com.

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