FRI APRIL 8, ’16
MOST ALL OF YOU KNOW OUR MCS SISTER STEPH— & STEPH SHARED WITH ME IN AN E-MAIL— & I WANTED TO SHARE WITH ALL OF YOU!!!!
THANKS STEPH—- MISS YOUR BLOG—- BUT LOVE TO HEAR FROM YOU— THANK YOU FOR SHARING!!!! LOVE YA– STEPH!!!!
I had a kidney stone. I put off going to the hospital hoping it would pass. After many hours and realizing the stone wasn’t moving and I was getting dehydrated, I decided I better go to the hospital in spite of knowing I would also have to deal with reactions due to my chemical sensitivity. I was in the emergency room and observation unit for about 18 hours.
After my visit, I wrote a letter to the hospital.
Dear *** (Hospital Administrator):
Last week I was a patient at ***** Hospital. I really appreciated the care I received. I especially appreciated the nurses that accommodated my chemical sensitivity.
I am surprised that ***Hospital doesn’t have a fragrance free policy for their staff. It is well-known that the chemicals emitted from fragrances make many people sick (migraines, respiratory reactions, etc.) and yet many of the staff were highly fragranced. Your goal as a hospital is to heal people, not aggravate health problems with unnecessary chemicals.
I was fortunate and was able to communicate my need for accommodation for my chemical sensitivity, but what about the patient who can’t communicate that need and is made sicker every time a fragranced staff member steps into their room?
Most of my nurses were fragrance free and did what they could to protect me. BUT there are a lot of other staff that patients have contact with besides nurses. Doctors, PAs, CNPs, CNAs. Staff in testing departments such as radiology, phlebotomy, etc. Clerical, medical records, financial staff. Staff who stock linens, housekeeping, engineering.
The chemicals from a fragranced person walking into a room lingers and can cause a reaction in a chemically sensitive person. Linens can pick up the chemicals as well and continue to affect the chemically sensitive person. The hallways are not a safe place for a chemically sensitive person because of the fragrance chemicals.
*** Hospital is a great facility. Please make it healthier for your patients (and staff) by instituting a fragrance free policy.
I know the request in my letter wouldn’t make a hospital totally safe for a chemically sensitive person but it is something that would help and something doable for a business.
The hospital replied:
When I send letters, I don’t expect a response but I was surprised to receive a telephone call after I sent this letter. It came from the doctor in charge of complaints. She wanted to know the specific staff members that were a problem for me. That gave me the opportunity to give her a brief explanation that I became chemically sensitive after a chemical exposure and since that time the chemicals in fragrance make me sick. I also reminded her that many people are made sick by the chemicals in fragrance. I informed her that those fragrances include petroleum chemicals and hormone disrupters.
Although my conversation with the doctor was brief, among other things, she understood by the end of the conversation that it was not a staff member, it was any staff member wearing fragrance who were the problem for me and many other patients/people who are made sick by the chemicals in fragrance.
She told me my letter would go to the grievance committee.
Was writing my letter worth it?
Yes. Multiple people have seen my letter and are aware of my concern and request.
Who has seen/will see my letter?
The administrator and his assistant, the doctor who called me and her assistant, members of the grievance committee and clerical staff associated with the committee. And what about those people who say something (even in sarcasm) to others about my request for a fragrance free staff. Awareness starts conversations and can result in changes.
Will the hospital implement a fragrance free policy for their staff?
Realistically, I doubt my letter will make that happen, at least not soon.
Do I think my letter will make a difference?
Yes. I will never know but maybe just one person who sees or hears about my letter will pay attention. Maybe they personally will stop using fragrance. Maybe their family will benefit from reduced chemicals in their home. Maybe a doctor on the committee will implement a fragrance free policy in their private medical practice. And maybe they personally will encourage the hospital to implement a fragrance free policy.
Maybe my letter won’t change the policy in that hospital but, if no one asks, the policy will never change.