Exceptional medical care at Cowichan hospital

In the middle of the night I visited the Cowichan District Hospital emergency room with our daughter

Exceptional medical care at Cowichan hospital

I am one of the owners of The Old Firehouse Wine & Cocktail Bar. I had an exceptionally positive experience at the local Cowichan Valley hospital on Wednesday night:

In the middle of last night I visited the Cowichan District Hospital emergency room with our daughter, Lucy. Despite our concern, it turned out not to be serious — she’s totally fine, nothing to worry about, honest — but I wanted to share our experience because of how goddamn grateful I am right now. To all those people, and also, for the healthcare available to me. In this community. In Canada in general.

Upon arrival, the nurse at intake assessed her quickly and kindly. Professional but ever so gentle in the way he handled a scared little girl. Next, the intake administrator efficiently sorted the paperwork and forwarded us to the waiting room. Once in the waiting room, which we shared with a number of elderly people and a couple small children and their parents, that original intake nurse came out to check on everyone personally. He fetched us ice water. He inquired about people’s comfort and needs. It was a small kindness that felt huge in that moment, and I know we weren’t the only people in that room to think so.

At one point, Lucy accidentally spilled her water across the floor and a smiling, kind woman from janitorial quickly came to clean it up. She reassured my sobbing, sick child that it was no big deal. Another patient in the room came over to make her smile. I was so grateful to them both.

Next we were moved into the main emergency treatment area where doctors and nurses were busily caring for others. While we waited, I overheard multiple conversations that clearly showed compassion and concern for their patients. In various states of distress, these professionals quickly calmed their patients’ anxiety, without drama or argument.

A kindly nurse eventually came over to check on us, to reassure my child and help us provide samples for tests, which Lucy had been seriously dreading. Finally, we were moved to a private examination room.

We were then seen by a young resident with a sweet and funny bedside manner. She put Lucy at ease and gently examined her in a way that my — often, extremely anxious — child had no worries about. She was equally as kind to me, answering my questions, tolerating my tired and worried interruptions. She was amazing.

Next came the primary doctor on our case. He followed his resident’s exceptional lead with his own kind manner, and with another examination. He talked to Lucy directly. He reassured her. He listened to her. She was so tired and scared, and had recently been in a lot of pain, but his impeccable manner was yet another salve on her frayed nerves. I got a sense of how our little hospital provides an amazing learning space for doctors of the future here on Vancouver Island.

Anyway, I did not tell any of this to the people caring for us last night. I was tired and worried and a bit discombobulated. (And honestly, I probably looked like a crazy woman… upon arriving home, I discovered I had the remnants of a blackberry smoothie dried out on my face that must have looked ridiculous all night!)

But my experience, while perhaps not that dramatic or exciting, was exceptional nonetheless. And to everyone who is working to build the new, more modern facility here in the Cowichan Valley, your hard work and donations are deeply appreciated. But beyond the talk of that new hospital, the most important asset we have is these amazing people.

Thank you to all the professionals that made a scary experience so completely manageable. For sending us home to bed at three in the morning with the knowledge that Lucy was OK, and letting her KNOW she would be OK. That she didn’t need to be scared. That her community took her pain and her worries (and her crazy mother) seriously.

Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Alanah McGinley

Duncan

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