The Graveyard Shift Part 2
"Hi, Mrs. Swasey. Didn't mean to scare you," the body said. "It's me–Fletcher."
"Fletcher, is that really you?" she asked, holding her hand to heart. She felt as though she were about to go into cardiac arrest.
"Yes," he answered.
"What are you doing in here?" she shrieked.
"Just taking my break. This is the coolest, quietest place in the hospital, and I thought I'd take a little snooze," Fletcher said. Fletcher was Metro's only night orderly.
By this time Eleanor's emotions had switched from fear to anger. "Fletcher, don't ever let me find you in here again. You know you are not authorized to come in here. Since when does M-O-R-G-U-E spell "Employee Lounge?" You nearly gave me a heart attack. Get out of here right now!"
"Yes, ma'am," Fletcher obliged, springing off the gurney. "But could I just get my dinner before I leave?"
"Your dinner? Isn't it in your locker?" Eleanor asked.
"Well, no, ma'am, I like to pack my own soft drinks and sandwiches, and they need to be refrigerated," Fletcher answered.
"So, we have a cooler in the employee lounge for that."
"Well, I never use the lounge," Fletcher explained. "I usually keep my dinner in here."
"Yes, in the refrigerator here. You know, the one where the organs are held for the medical school."
"Oh, God, Fletcher," Eleanor moaned. "How can you be so macabre?"
"Macabre?" he asked innocently, clearly missing her point.
"Never mind. Yes, get your dinner and get out of here. And if I ever find you in here without authorization again, I'll write you up. Now go!" she ordered.
Fletcher grabbed his lunch and fled the room. As soon as Fletcher left, Eleanor and Sonya exploded with laughter and dashed to the rest room to avoid any further mishaps.
Although we probably all chuckled through this rather ghoulish incident, this is no laughing matter. As the night administrator, Eleanor is responsible for ensuring proper employee conduct as well as the safety and health practices of the hospital. We feel she treated the matter too lightly.
Fletcher should not use the morgue to refrigerate his lunch or as a lounge to catnap with cadavers. When Fletcher put his dinner in the refrigerator with the organs held for medical school, he risked contamination of the organs as well as his lunch. Moreover, Fletcher is an orderly who has regular contact with patients. His actions show total disregard for their welfare. Sound practice suggests that the hospital maintain controls for entering and leaving the morgue and coming into contact with patients. Also we suggest improving the lighting in the morgue. If there is concern about heat from the lights, we're sure there are alternative solutions. One should not have to identify bodies using a flashlight.
Eleanor should discuss with Fletcher his motives and rationale for using the morgue as his private lounge. There may be more here than meets the eye. For example, why doesn't he want to eat with co-workers? Could there be strife among the staff? Then, Eleanor must ensure that Fletcher understands the safety, health, and patient service issues. If Eleanor needs to revise the policy for authorization to the morgue then she should meet with the entire staff to explain the new policy, its purpose, and when it will take effect.
At a minimum Eleanor should have documented Fletcher's file, indicating that she coached and counseled him, to record the event. Alternatively, she could impose the hospital's progressive discipline practice or policy. For example, if this was the first offense, then Fletcher should receive a formal verbal warning. A second offense would be a letter of reprimand outlining the specific consequences up to termination if he continues this practice.
We are also concerned about the effect of Fletcher's antics on the hospital's image. If someone leaks Fletcher's shenanigans to the general public, the hospital would have a public relations nightmare. We dare say that Eleanor would find herself more than nearly wetting her pants if she saw his story flash on the 11 o'clock news!
Employees should be told to stay out of the morgue–it's already difficult enough to determine sometimes if one's employees are dead or alive!