>In their hands (MNA April 07)

Posted: April 17, 2007 in Columns


Associate Editor

We all make mistakes at work. Here at the newspaper, mistakes are hard to take sometimes, because thousands of people see them when they happen. It can be embarrassing, but it isn’t the end of the world.
And no matter how bad we feel when we commit a blunder here at the News Advocate, we can issue a correction for our faux pas, and move on to publish the paper another day.
But not all career paths have this much latitude. And not all jobs have the same stress level.
This became evident to me as I watched the staff of the obstetrics unit work on Thursday and Friday at West Shore Medical Center to deliver the newest Burgeson: Owen Cean.
I know that when I make a mistake, spell a name wrong, or mis-spell a word, I get a phone call, or a snicker from a co-worker, or in the worst case scenario, someone sends me a nasty E-mail or leaves me a biting voicemail.
And it gets me down sometimes. I know that it really shouldn’t, though. I certainly don’t have that stressful or critical a job compared to other fields.
Sometimes it’s important to step back and put our jobs into perspective, because when folks in the medical profession make a miscalculation, lives are at stake.
You wouldn’t know it from watching these professionals work, though. They are courteous, kind, able, and competent. Their jobs, whether it is nurse, doctor, or other specialist, require knowledge in medicine, technology, and even psychology. The latter may be the most important of all at times.
And they deserve some credit, because people who are sick, injured, or in pain certainly aren’t the best customers. So, it takes a very special kind of person to work in the medical field.
We’re lucky to have a fantastic group of individuals working at our local hospital. Some Manistee residents may travel to Traverse City or Cadillac for treatment or for the birth of their child, but, as more than one staff member at West Shore told me last weekend, patients tell them that, “once they have a child here, they won’t go anywhere else.”
Watching the local O.B. team work, it was easy to see why this statement is true.
We had our first child in a huge hospital in Pasadena, just outside of Los Angeles. We arrived in the wee hours of the morning to find that none of the delivery rooms were available, and we were forced to wait in a triage area with other laboring mothers until a room opened up. Our doctor was spread so thin that night, it felt like he was only with us for the last ten minutes of the delivery to make sure he made an appearance.
The nurses and other staff were friendly, but we were only one of many priorities that night, and we didn’t get a chance to really connect with the staff like we did here in Manistee. And once our birth was over, we were quickly ushered into a hospital room so someone else could slide into our birthing room.
That’s the reality of treatment at a large hospital. It isn’t a slam on those folks. They have a lot on their plates. And we still had a good experience.
I can’t tell you the name of any of the people who helped deliver my son eight years ago, though, but I won’t soon forget about Mary, Wendy, Rosie, Karen, Dr. Joanette, and the other warm individuals who made our delivery and stay at West Shore so easy and stress free. I apologize if I’m leaving anyone out — there wasn’t one person we had contact with who wasn’t pleasant and helpful. Thank you to each one of you.
So, as much as I sometimes miss living in the “big city,” with access to shopping malls, 24-hour video stores, pharmacies, and all-night fast food outlets, I don’t regret having my third and final child in small town Manistee.
We couldn’t have asked for a better experience.
I came out of the birth of my second son four days ago with something (besides a healthy little eight pound wrinkly guy). It was the knowledge and reminder that medical professionals everywhere deserve our respect and gratitude, especially here in Manistee — because our lives are literally ‘in their hands.’
Cean Burgeson can be reached at: cburgeson@pioneergroup.net

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