The Nurse as Patient Advocate: What I Did When My Patient Had No Clothes

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Our patients' goals are often not our own.
Our patients' goals are often not our own.

It required no skill. No critical thinking. Nothing that my degree in nursing prepared me for. As a new nurse, sometimes I feel as though caring is all I have to offer. Well, that and a lot of questions on every shift.

My patient had just received a devastating diagnosis of metastatic lung cancer. He was not home in comfort. He was sitting alone in a hospital room, wearing the slightly awkward — albeit necessary — fashion trend known as the dreaded hospital gown. All he wanted were some real clothes, namely the clothes in the gym bag in his car, to make the hospital a little less hospital-y. On his admission to the hospital, he was wearing street clothes. But in the shuffle of moving him from the ED up to the floor, we lost all his belongings. 

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Dayshift and night shift were diligent about calling security and sending someone outside into the frigid winter for the last 6 shifts to find his Buick LeSabre. His Buick was parked in one of the hospital parking lots by the outpatient clinic on the other side of the hospital per report of the patient. Per report of security, however, it was nowhere to be found. 

After I had gotten report, I realized it was my turn to call security and do my part. When I made the call, they were quite resistant about heading outside in the sub-zero temperatures. I told them I'd go with them. I had made a new friend in Ute, a security guard. As kind as she was, she did not understand — or share — my excitement about fulfilling my patient's wish. Still she went, and because she went, I say hello to her fondly every time I see her in passing.

The hospital has two moderately large sides to it: the inpatient hospital side, and the outpatient clinic side. In order to cut across the snowy ice land outside, Ute and I took a shortcut through the sky bridge that connects the two sides. I felt like a kid along for the ride since I offered no expertise on how to navigate the hospital's winding and confusing corridors and staircases that never seem to lead where I want them to take me.  

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