Exceeding Expectations of a Hospital Stay

“I am a very active person,” shares Doris Smith, 77. She and her husband, Phillip, live on Sunshine Ranch 25 miles outside of Amarillo, TX. “The ranch has been in my family for more than 100 years.”  While Phillip feeds and cares for the cattle, Doris can also be found out on their property checking a first-time heifer about to calf. In addition to keeping up the farmhouse, Doris also volunteers in her community and for her church. She was on her way home from working at the primary election Tuesday, March 1, when she started to feel ill. “I told my husband when I came home that evening, I just don’t feel good.”

Congestion led to stomach cramping and pain that continued to escalate over the course of the next few days. Doris went to her primary care physician on three occasions, trying three antibiotics, yet her symptoms and the pain continued to worsen. “My doctor said, ‘You need to go to the hospital,’” she recalls. “I said, ‘I want to go to BSA.’”

Though Doris had not been hospitalized in Amarillo, she had visited friends and members of the church at BSA and had always felt they were well care for. “From the moment we walked in the door, we were greeted by a volunteer,” she adds. “They could tell I was miserable and my husband was really concerned.” A volunteer escorted Doris and Phillip to registration. “The person who checked us in at registration was very considerate, thorough and compassionate. She understood I was in pain.”

A volunteer took Doris to her room in a wheel chair on the eighth floor. “The head nurse came in and explained what they were going to do,” she recalls. “The case worker also came in to visit with us. We were in a room large enough my husband could spend the night. Everything was immaculate. The westward facing window let in the sunlight.”

Despite her illness, Doris noticed the details of her first experience at BSA. She also noticed how she and her family were treated. “Every one of the nurses I had were so exceptionally nice,” she says. “It made me realize what kind of people BSA hired.”

Doris underwent testing to determine the cause of her pain and illness. A CT scan with contrast indicated that her colon was inflamed. Further testing revealed that Doris had C. diff – a bacteria in the lining of her intestines. “I was prescribed an antibiotic that could only be given through an IV,” she adds. “Then I started on another oral antibiotic. They explained everything to me - and I ask a lot of questions.”

When Phillip returned to the ranch to care for the cattle, their daughter from Houston came to BSA and stayed with Doris. “My daughter had questions as well,” she says. “We talked to one nurse for at least 30 minutes and told her if she needed to leave, we could ask our questions later. She said, ‘No, I am here to answer your questions.’”

By Sunday, March 13, Doris was feeling better, but it was the extra attention she received that day from her nurses that she will always remember. “They wrote on the chart on the wall, ‘Happy Birthday, Doris!’” she exclaims. “Then one nurse came in with a cupcake. It was just the cutest thing ever. I was not just a number to them. They were a part of my life.”

Paying attention to these details, Doris says made all the difference in her hospital experience. When Doris had questions about the menu and which items were OK for her to have on a soft diet, she recalls the staff consulting directly with the dietitian and showing her which options were better for her. When it was time to go home, Doris was once again impressed by how quickly everything was ready. A tech waited with a wheelchair at her door. “I cannot say one negative thing about my stay at BSA,” she says.