By John Tamihere
Kiwis are often thankless and ungrateful in many respects. I think it comes from our founding fathers, both in Maori and British terms. They came here to beget a country that did not import the class and race issues from Britain. This means there is a level of healthy irreverence over honours, titles and public acknowledgements. We like people who are dignified and have great humility in the mould of a Sir Edmund Hillary. Maori society also has a very interesting touch in regard to merit winning the day and encapsulated in the saying ‘a kumara should not say how sweet it is’. Now whilst this is an endearing attribute when taken too far, it can tip into being mean spirited and callous.
I have had the experience in the last nine months to witness first hand the operation of three major hospitals and one small hospital, that being Waitakere. Having family involved in major matters of illness allows you to concentrate your mind on the way in which your loved ones are being treated. You always wonder whether you're getting the same treatment, the right treatment or for that matter, being positioned in a queue for further follow up care fairly.
In all four hospitals, I was able to sit for a number of hours and watch as shifts changed and the crush of people, particularly over these winter months, placed huge stress and pressure on hard worked staff. It is a privilege to reflect that in all hospitals staff, whether they were doctors, nurses, or cleaners, all acknowledged the patients as equals and not as a burden to carry for the next eight hour shift.
Hospitals are interesting in that when you go to a rock concert you get caught up in the euphoria and energy of the crowd. In a hospital no one laughs when diagnosed with terminal cancer. There is a spirit of angst and stress that descends in and around most hospitals. This spirit can only be uplifted by the owners and holders of those charged with caring for the ill. If they conduct themselves in a way that engages, explains and supports then regardless of the difficulty, the individual and family have their spirit lifted. Most times you cannot put a value on this.
So it is important that, patients, instead of being demanding and takers start to acknowledge that in world terms we are blessed and lucky to be served by the best cleaners and the best doctors and in between they do an outstanding job. So many of those that have family in hospitals leave without acknowledging the tremendous efforts that have occurred in the care of their loved ones. We always hear about 5% of problems, but never acknowledge the tremendous 95% strike rate. So rather than be stressed, or demanding, be grateful and thankful for the service.
Sunday News, 19th August 2012