Transforming a stressful situation with ingenuity, kindness and a turkey sandwich
The patient, an elderly man with dementia, was not a happy camper. He did not want to stay in the room he was assigned to in the emergency department at UCHealth Memorial Hospital North.
A dose of creativity and kindness from Patrick Baron, a charge nurse at MHN, changed all that. In no time, the agitated patient was happy as a clam.
“He was not happy sitting in the bed. He was a fall risk and kept triggering the fall alarm, and he didn’t like the noise,” Baron said. The patient, who had been in the ED for two days, recognized Baron but had trouble following instructions. Bottom line, he was determined to leave his bed.
At the time, the ED was extremely busy and keeping eyes on the patient posed challenges.
“We didn’t want him to fall and bump his head,” Baron said.
So Baron came up with a plan.
Instead of trying to keep the patient in his room, Baron brought him into the nurses’ station and sat him down in his chair. Baron gave him snacks and drinks and provided activities to keep him entertained. The patient settled right in. After chatting with nurses and having a bite to eat, the content fella requested a beer with his turkey sandwich dinner.
The relieved staff didn’t raise a glass, but cheered him on while the snacks kept coming. The turnaround, Baron said, was “therapeutic and helpful for him to interact with the staff.”
Staff benefited too when Baron had turned the stressful situation around. “It was good for them to see him happy rather than having to chemically or physically restrain the patient,” Baron said.
Being around people turned out to be the remedy for improving the patient’s well-being.
One of Baron’s coworkers joked: “It looks like we have a new charge nurse!” upon seeing the patient sitting in Baron’s chair.
Baron’s crew likes to keep spirits light at work.
“We talk a lot and we all cheer each other on. We confide in one another and keep each other positive,” said Baron.
And that’s good medicine.