Sunday, August 5, 2012

Something Else That Sucks About Bend: Its Hospital

Kind of a shocking headline at the top of the front page of this morning's Bulletin: "Staff questions safety at St. Charles."

The story went on to tell how a survey of operating room staff at Bend's only hospital "raised widespread ... concerns" about patient safety. Only 40% of the staff who took the survey said they would feel safe having surgery at St. Charles themselves. The average score on the survey, which has been conducted annually for the past four years, has dropped from 49 in 2009 to 39 in January 2012.

Actually, the story isn't all that shocking to somebody who's lived in Bend for more than a quarter of a century and is familiar with the Bend way of doing things.

People in Bend like to say they work hard and play hard, but the reality is more like "play hard, and work as little as we can get away with." As a PR client of mine -- a prominent, longtime Bend businessman -- used to lament, "People come to Bend to play, not to work." And that's probably just as true of surgeons as sheetrockers.

Add to that the culture of mediocrity* that permeates the place -- the attitude that being "a nice person" is far more important than being excellent, or even competent -- and it's not hard to imagine that culture penetrating the operating room too.

Hard data on how the attitude toward safety affects patients' health is hard to come by, but the Bulletin story did note that in 2011, there were 14 cases of surgical site infections in patients who had bowel surgery -- twice the normal rate for hospitals of St. Charles's size.

And I personally have known too many cases of surgery patients who experienced unfavorable outcomes -- up to and including dying on the operating table.

Of course, such mishaps happen -- happen way too often -- at hospitals everywhere. Nonetheless, I've made up my mind about one thing, and given my loved ones a clear directive about it: If I need surgery and I have any choice in the matter, I want it done somewhere other than Bend.

ADDENDUM: Recently I encountered a Bend woman whose child had been suffering chronic pain. The Bend doctors -- even the so-called "pain specialists" -- had been able to do nothing to help the child. Finally the parents took the child to a top medical clinic in the Bay Area, which fortunately was able to diagnose and treat the problem. Bottom line: If you have a broken femur or a torn ACL, Bend is a great place to get it treated. If you have anything more exotic, fuhgeddaboudit.

*The culture of mediocrity does not apply to athletic endeavors, which is the only area in which Bendites strive for and prize excellence.


Marshall_Will said...

One of the very first things I noticed about Oregon upon moving here. Even working at a gas station right out of HS. It was apparent, even to an 18 y.o.

Many transplants will Bend over backwards making excuses for them, in ways, wondering if 'we' aren't the problem? You're new, you're trying to fit in.

Where MD's are concerned, can't say the recent dust up in HC doesn't have certain, deliscioso elements to it? Saying "they're fed UP and not going to TAKE it any more!?" strikes me the same logic as a casino owner saying "He's closing up shop because he's TIRED of taking your money!"

H. Bruce Miller said...

I spent the first 30 years of my life on the East Coast. When I moved to California I thought people there didn't have much on the ball and were not really into the whole "work ethic" thing. And then I moved to Central Oregon and realized I hadn't seen NOTHIN' yet.

Marshall_Will said...

Right, a confluence of ALL the worst attributes imaginable? It's hard to miss and takes a willing suspension of disbelief to really wrap your mind around it.

I used to barback for the old man's buddy ( as a minor ) on Chicago's Westside and there'd be a plumber or landscaper sitting in the bar after finally... being able to call it a week and some kid would get sent in by his mother saying the sink was backed up and BAM he was outta' there!

Having been brought up in that environment was totally different than what you have out here. To be fair, when I was in the Navy the general assumption was that, unless you were told 'otherwise' ( it was assumed you'd be stuck on the ship! ) When I transferred years later to the Air Force, it was the exact OPPOSITE! When your 'shift' was over.., That.Was.It.

I've seen this from all sides so I understand rank & file.., W-2 employees watching the clock ( but a 'doctor'? ) Remind me never to get injured on the weekend out there, 'tay? Nice thunderstorm yesterday btw. Standing HAIL in the Wil. Pass, in AUGUST!

Marshall_Will said...


Lost a post there but I was noting my healthy concern August could well bring bad signs? Over the past several years there's been an entire week in August ( of all months? ) that disintegrated into a drear-fest. And that it often presages drizzly Labor Days and cut off at the KNEES 'Autumns'.

Our forecast called for 95 today and 84 by noon. If that's going to happen, it had best hurry up. We're barely crackin' 63, it's totally overcast and I'm told, at least as north as Wilsonville!

Bad BAD signs. The weekend was slated for thunderstorms and highs of 80, vice 100 just Friday but this isn't good. Looks like another accelerated "uh-oh" from local WG's. Wish that post would turn up?

Marshall_Will said...


My prediction is that 'today' ( Friday, August 17th. 2012 ) will be the LAST 90+ deg, day for the WV and Monday will be the last 80+ deg. day.

I see Bend has a few more in the 10-Day but predict a similar cliff.

"Miss the heat? ( from Aug. 1 'O' )

Forecasters say Portland and much of Northwest Oregon will see its first 90 degree day of the year Saturday, and some places could flirt with the 100-degree mark.

That will be *three months later* than the earliest ever 90 degree day in Portland (April 30, 1998), but a good six weeks earlier than the latest (October 5, 1980).

The last 90-degree day or higher in Portland came on Sept. 11, 2011.

Better late than never, heat lovers say."

No, we don't say that. So please feel free to NOT speak for us.

Andrew Miller said...

This comment is not about the Bend hospital, but I did want to send something to Bend Sux and couldn't find a contact.
I recently had a phone interview for a job in Bend and was surprised to find upon Googling the interviewers that they were hipsters. That prompted this song:
It's not trying to be a jab at Bend, given I do want to move there, but it is a commentary maybe on the smallness of it. And, then, well, maybe Bend does suck.

Anonymous said...

Turn out the lights, this blog is over.

H. Bruce Miller said...

It is being revived in a new incarnation -- we are now in Arizona for the winter! This marks the first time in 27 years that will not have to endure the everlasting Bend winter.

Marshall_Will said...


Good for YOU! For awhile I'd feared the worst, a health issue or something even more serious. ( You'd cracked up completely and were now prancing around Bend sub-30 deg. weather in shorts and sandals! )

If you'd like I've no problems posting updates on how bad this place sucks. So GO ahead.., tell us all how awesome it is not to have to use a drop cord heater in the morning..?

The Fed said...

Arizona? Do you have to shake out your shoes each morning for the scorpions? Sidewinders and me have a real feud going on, we just don't like each other. And kissing bugs, those are my favorite, they're smart, they don't fly up to the light, they land a few feet away, track you by the carbon monoxide you exhale, inject a numbing agent first so you don't feel them, and then fill up like a golf ball full of your blood giving you God knows what kind of virus in the process. Yes, AZ is a wonderful place. I miss the cockroaches the size of silver dollars. And it's so nice and warm there, yes, indeed, you can drive further in 30 minutes in some areas than you can walk back out alive, it is so hot it's dangerous. Just hope the power never goes out in summer for more than a few days, you'll all roast! Beware the Electromagnetic Pulse, wear sunscreen and watch out for

H. Bruce Miller said...

Fed: Believe me, I've heard all about the "horrors" of Arizona from my Bend friends -- not just the scorpions and cucarachas and kissing bugs but also the coyotes and javelinas. Every place has some unpleasant wildlife; Central Oregon has cougars, coyotes, rattlesnakes, black widow spiders, brown recluse spiders -- and yes, cockroaches and even a few scorpions. These critters don't bother me in Bend and I don't think I'll be too bothered by the Arizona critters either.

As for the heat: Yes, I know it gets hot there. I don't plan to go hiking in the desert when it's 120 degrees. And I've known -- personally -- people who froze to death in the Central Oregon wilderness. Extreme temperatures either high or low are dangerous.