April 8, 2008

Coincidence? I think not.

Posted in Musings, Opinion at 11:02 am by Alexia

MPOW, and the health system it is a part of, is going through a transition.  By transition I mean layoffs.  In an email sent to associates, administration stated that layoffs of clinical personnel would be minimal  so as to affect patient care as little as possible.

I contend the library should fit into that category.  While I agree librarians do not interact directly with patients I will argue we affect direct patient care.  What would the surgeon, who was in the operating room with his patient open on the table, have done if he did not have the librarian to call when he needed information immediately about something he didn’t expect to see occurred in his patient?  What would a cardiologist do when a patient arrives with a rare condition?  What would the ER do when patients suffering from a bioharzardous chemical with which they do not know the antidote?

I do not think administration thinks of us in this  manner.  We do not know yet if we are affected or not, but I content we are as clinical as the pathology lab or biomedical engineering.  Only time will tell how administration feels.  All bets are off when a consultant is brought in but I had hoped that our hard work and effort had paid off.  We shall see.

EDIT: I left an entire portion of this post out accidentally, and it was an important part.  Mental note to self – never post before coffee.

Two of the hospitals in our health system, including MPOW, were recently ranked in the top 15 for major teaching hospitals.  What do these two hospitals have in common?  You guessed it – larger libraries with more than one professional librarian on staff.  Is this a coincidence?  I think no.t.  I think that in order to be an excellent center for clinical practice and education you need an excellent knowledge-based information center (aka – library) will excellent professional librarians to help clinicians find the best, most appropriate information in the time they  need it.

This reminds me of the time a nurse from the ED came down to the library.  He’d been searching for treatment of chemicals released from burning PCP piping and had been searching for over two hours.  This was for the ED’s monthly hazmat drill.  Had this been an actual emergency the patients would have been out of luck.  We found the information for him in 10 minutes.  He was so impressed that he invited the librarians to the debrief meeting and from there we ended up on the hazmat team.  Ergo, librarians DO affect patient care directly, even if we don’t directly care for patients.