Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Molly & Me

I'm still in the breaking-in phase of work at Li'l Old County General.  For me, that has included finding efficient ways to do patient care and chart it without running behind.  I've solved most of the task tracking and equipment issues by developing my own version of a flow sheet and carrying a basket with med administration items.  There is (almost always) a roll of my favorite adhesive tape in there.  I couldn't do nights without my trusty penlight.  People chuckle at my blue basket, but it works.  

Now I have the latest improvement; Molly the COW.  Our unit has numerous portable laptops on Stinger bases.  These allow you to wheel the computer wherever it's needed, raise it to stand and lower it to sit while typing, it has wireless computer interface, and some have an on-board barcode scanner.  It's bulky, but the Stinger has  grown on me, because I can take it with me and chart wherever I am throughout the shift.  I can look at the patient while I chart his assessment.  I don't have to log into a new computer every time I want to chart a note or pass a med.  I don't have to go back to the desk and hope my memory will recall which arm his IV was in, or what time he developed SOB.

So I've been using the Stinger and trying to work it into my nightly routine.  The offgoing nurse frequently offers me a stationary computer "so you won't have to use a laptop," an accommodation I've taken to declining.  The nurses find my behavior mystifying.  My night colleagues get a charge out of seeing me push this thing up & down the halls, while they are tied to the desk.  

One drawback developed the other night when I brought the Stinger into a patient room, and the patient said in obvious irritation, "What the hell is that thing?"  "This," I said in my most winning tone, "is Molly the COW.  She's a Computer On Wheels."  (I made up the name on the spot.)  The patient, an alert 80-something, was singularly unimpressed but the explanation seemed to settle him down, and he allowed Molly to scan his ID band for a morning med.  I'm thinking of decking her with seasonal flowers or big stickers, to see how patients respond.  Valentine hearts coming up soon?

I especially like bringing Molly into the room for admission assessments because I can face the patient while asking 1,000 personal health questions, and chart it on the spot.  Done!  I imagine that one day we'll have the same capability in a computer the size of a Blackberry, but for now I consider Molly my best girlfriend.

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