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Readers respond: yes, we have band-aids.

I recently read your editorial, "Twinkletoes performs in 'The Art of Draw,'" and have been "pondering" it ever since. It really made me step back and think about how we are perceived by the general public. I am the outreach coordinator at a community hospital, and one of my duties is to oversee our home-draw program. We have a phlebotomist who travels around the county and draws people who are homebound and no longer under the care of a visiting nurse service. I have accompanied him on few occasions to observe and evaluate his performance, but I must admit that there are some points you made that I never considered.

For example, I got the impression that you were not impressed with the insulated lunch bucket that your visiting nurse used to carry his supplies. Many home medical services use these, and I never thought about how they looked. We now use a bag that has a medical emblem and looks much more professional. I realize it is just a bag, but at least it doesn't look like we came for lunch.

Another point that you brought up was where in the home is the proper place to draw the patient. I talked to our home phlebotomist, and he said that he lets the patient decide. Some patients don't like the idea of having their blood drawn in the dining room, because that is where they eat. Others don't want to be drawn in their living room for fear that a drop of blood might get on their furniture. By letting the patients decide, he feels they will be more comfortable with the experience.

One change we are considering is due to the comment you made about the visiting nurse laying the filled tubes on your carpet. We plan to spread out an underpad to lay tubes, alcohol wipes, and other materials on, so they do not come into contact with the patient's carpet, tablecloth, or furniture. We also talked about laying one under the patient's arm also.

I realize that these changes have more to do with appearance than the actual quality of work (and I know they say that appearances can be deceiving), but I really feel that appearance is very important. If you, your supplies, or the way you do things don't appear proper, then the public will never give you the opportunity to prove your quality. Even if you have band-aids.

--Gary Kirkbride

Laboratory Outreach Coordinator

Robinson Memorial Hospital

Ravenna, OH

Editor's note: Truthfully, I was not unimpressed with the lunch bucket until I realized it did not contain all of the supplies that a patient would expect a visiting healthcare professional to carry--like those band-aids. You are correct to say that poor grooming, a lack of supplies, and/or a sort of slapdash attitude about performing healthcare duties does not invite a good impression. This, often, will override forever the fact that the visiting nurse is a compassionate person with a good education and well-honed skills. Thank you for letting me know that my scary experience prompted your examination of your home-draw program--and you are welcome to come to lunch anytime.
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Publication:Medical Laboratory Observer
Article Type:Letter to the editor
Date:Jun 1, 2006
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