Work at the UCLA hospital is accomplished by teams. My chief
neurosurgeon, Dr. Bob Shafa, and his team of attending
physicians met each morning to review my case. Then one
member or another would come in and discuss their findings and
plans with me. It was comforting to know that I had the benefit of
some of the best minds available.
An additional team of resident physicians, physicians training to be
neurosurgeons, stopped by daily to answer questions and discuss
My situation had been so complicated that I asked one, Dr.
Sivashi, to go over just what had happened with me. He spent an
unusual amount of time taking me through the original surgery and
the various complications that had brought additional problems
leading to my present situation. It clarified and comforted me to
understand the situation better.
This teamwork, collaboration and collegiality extended on down
the line as each day's nurse would brief the next at shift change.
These nurses monitored my status, administered medications and
communicated my needs to the doctors.
One, Cynthia Triana, talked me through the horrifying night when I
had trouble breathing. I felt as though her voice, reminding me to
breathe deeply, were a lifeline that helped me make it through the
Each day brought a new registered nurse and a new care partner
to ensure comfort and hygiene. One of my first care partners,
Kimberly Burns, French braided my hair, keeping it from tangling
through the long days in bed.
The nursing teams were varied, with diverse nationalities, genders
and strengths, but each one brought something special to the
Lab personnel did frequent testing and blood work, so frequent
that I began to run out of veins. It was another opportunity to see
collaboration in action as younger, less experienced lab personnel
would call on older, more experienced colleagues to help.
The new thing in my room from previous hospitalizations was the
computer. My wristband had a barcode that each new person
would scan. It made me feel a little like a commodity, but it
insured that anything they entered would go directly to my file.
The nurse would also scan each medication she gave me, the care
partner would enter my vital signs and the lab personnel would use
the computer to create labels for my blood samples, further
reducing the risk of error.
A second team of case coordinators, including case managers,
social workers and home health coordinators, worked behind the
scenes to prepare me for discharge. They communicated with our
insurance company, updating them on my condition.
Three times a day, I'd choose meals from the extensive Signature
Dining menu put together by the UCLA Dietitians and Chefs. The
menus also included information on nutritious choices, portion
sizes and reading labels.
The food was delicious and the presentation, lovely, with lots of
fresh fruits and vegetables. My only problem was my sensitive
tongue where I had chewed it during the seizure.
I'd call in my selections, and within 45 minutes, they'd arrive at my
door, carried by a server in a white shirt, with black pants, vest
My favorite meals included oatmeal, eggs and turkey sausage and
apple crepes for breakfast; seasonal fresh fruit plate, veggie
burger and cream of potato soup for lunch; and lemon-herb grilled
salmon, bowtie pasta with artichoke cream sauce and vegetarian
delight plate for dinner. Desserts included custard, sherbet,
chocolate cake and a cheese platter.
Every member of the hospital staff who came into my room, down
to the man who emptied the trash, gave his or her name and their
purpose for being there.
Among the patient's rights and responsibilities listed in the Patient
and Family Handbook are "considerate and respectful care,
knowing the name of the licensed health care practitioner who has
primary responsibility for coordinating your care and the names
and professional relationships of physicians and nonphysicians
who will see you, receive information about your health status,
diagnosis, prognosis, course of treatment, prospects for recovery
and outcomes of care in terms you understand. You have the
right to effective communication and participation in the
development and implementation of your plan of care."