On my business blog, I wrote a post about the ranking some of our local hospitals are being perceived by people who have overnight stays. The numbers aren’t encouraging, with only one city hospital having a ranking higher than the national average of 64% and only two others in the region being over that figure.

That 64% is the standard for people and their satisfaction with health care is scary enough. This means that not even 2/3rds of the population in the nation feels that hospitals are addressing their needs if they have to stay overnight. Yes, I think a lot of it is just perception of the unknown, because until you’ve stayed in a hospital overnight (no, I never have) you’re not really sure what is supposed to happen while you’re there.

I have some knowledge of the process only because I have been able to ask these types of questions over the years when I was working in hospitals. That, and my father spent some days in a hospital overnight, and I got to see some of that.

Most people think that someone is going to be with them more often than they are. The expectation of patients is that a nurse or doctor will be checking on them at least once an hour; it’s not going to happen, unless you’re in the ICU. In many hospitals, in an attempt to cut costs, a nurse might have to keep an eye on upwards of 11 to 12 patients during the course of a 16 hour shift. Included in this is getting medications, wrapping patients up, writing in charts, etc. Some patients might only need a quick visit; others are going to need some time. With everything they have to do, there just isn’t enough time to see patients that often.

Same with doctors. Doctors have mastered the art of the quick visit for most patients, but they have a lot of patients to see also. They also have to deal with all these charts, talk to the nurses about their observations, and the like. Not only that, but then they have to go back to their practices and see patients who are coming for their appointments. They don’t spend their entire day in the hospital.

Hospital food; well, we’ve all heard how bad hospital food is. Actually, some hospitals have pretty good food, so that’s a misnomer. However, patients can complain about bad food, but instead, it’s bland food. There’s less salt and sugar in hospital food because of the reasons people are in the hospital. The diet plans are coordinated and the food is made, and sorry, but you’re not getting anything spicy while you’re in the hospital. Many people are dissatisfied with that, and I know if I were a patient, as picky as I am with food, that I’d be the same. I’d certainly be hoping someone who might visit me would sneak me in something good.

I’d like to address something else here, though. One of the comments on the post from my other blog was that it’s hard for people to be satisfied when they know that once they’ve been released they’ll be getting a big hospital bill. Actually, the majority don’t end up with super big bills, but even copays can be somewhat steep for one’s budget. Maybe some people are thinking about the costs of care they’re paying for and expecting a different level of care while they’re in the hospital; I’m just not sure about that one.

So, here’s the overall question; how would you like your health care? You only have a few choices:

1. Comprehensive care for everyone, and I’m willing to pay 75% of my income towards taxes to cover it (don’t gasp; either Switzerland or Sweden charges 85% taxes on income).

2. My health plan, which basically gives an extension of Medicaid funds and more usage of federally qualified health centers across the country towards more preventative care.

3. President Obama’s plan, which is basically forcing employers to pay for health insurance on one end, setting up its own version of an HMO for everyone else, cutting payments to both doctors and hospitals to help cover it, along with possibly taxing the health care benefits employers will be forced to get you.

4. Set up a tiered system like pharmaceutical companies are not doing, where there are levels of health care coverage at different rates.

5. Do nothing, leave everything as it is, allow insurance companies to not only up the rate of insurance coverage nearly 20% every year and, now, change the rules in the middle of the year when they’re not really allowed to do it.

Okay, there are variations of the above, but it’s now out there; pick your choice, then tell why you want that one. Or, if you have something drastically different, share that. Maybe we’ll come up with a health care plan on our own, one that’s affordable (well, my plan can, but I’m sure someone will find something about it they don’t like).

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