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Jenn's Story (you had me at hello)

Updated: Oct 17, 2022

I was working in the ICU one day at that little country hospital. It was a very small hospital with a very small ICU-a total of ten beds to be exact. The hospital decided to open a DOU upstairs because the ten beds in the ICU would be taken up for months on end with ventilator patients. This same hospital also had a subacute unit; these patients were long term and most of them were on ventilators. So, when a subacute patient had an acute illness, they too would be transferred to ICU. By bringing in a DOU, ventilator patients could go there, freeing up beds in the ICU.

On this particular day, there was a young Hispanic patient on a ventilator in the ICU. The family was crowded around his bed, touching him and telling him how much they loved him. The touching and poking at him was causing him to fight (or buck) the ventilator. This is not a good thing and we had to ask the family to stop. Because the family spoke Spanish and I was the nurse or other staff present that day that spoke (very little) Spanish, they asked if I would ask the family to stop agitating the patient. I agreed – no problem!

I entered the room and politely said, “Hola!" (hello) and "Por favor” (please). Then I added hand gestures and politely said, “no pokey-pokey”, and it worked! Hand gestures are a great universal language. The other nurses thought it was pretty funny, and one even remarked “Geez! I could’ve done that!”

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