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Friday, September 25, 2009

Here's to our health!

My annual physical exam offers a great opportunity to sing the praises of our health care here at Maryknoll, arguably the best in the world. We now enjoy round-the-clock nursing coverage even on nights and weekends.

We are readily admitted to what by now should be called the Maryknoll Wing at Phelps hospital in Tarrytown. We get shuttled to and from various medical appointments in a timely manner by Mr. Sean Gould. Everything from routine colonoscopies to by-pass surgery (both of which I have had) are available to us.

Also, since you last visited the Knoll or Health Services, you may not be aware of some changes that have been made. If, like me, you need a regular PTINR (Coumadin level) check, you'll be happy to know we now have a special machine that requires only a single drop of blood with results available in less than one minute. This is much preferred to the regular drilling-for-oil puncturing by the phlebotomist who comes on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Medicines are now strictly dispensed and recorded, with recipients having to sign for each prescription drug received. Even a request for some Jointflex ointment or a band aid is met with an insistence to take our B.P. and temperature.

In anticipation of an inevitable outbreak of H1N1 (swine) or seasonal flu, dispensers of Purrel hand disinfectant have been installed throughout the building: at main entrances, in the dining room, outside the chapel, and on the walls in several locations on each floor. (I gotta invest in the company that markets this stuff!) Flu shots will be available next month.

Should a center resident require an ambulance ride to a hospital, our volunteer Emergency Assistance Team (with the unfortunate anagram E.A.T. I much prefer Medical Emergency Team or M.E.T.) of Fathers & Brothers is on-call to accompany him. Last February, I had just finished my shift on the E.A.T. (ugh!) when, lo and behold, I had to be rushed to Phelps with abdominal bleeding. Br. Tom Hickey accompanied me and went back and forth to the Knoll to get my things while I worked my way through Emergency Room protocols. He stayed with me until my condition stabilized. (Thanks again, Tom!)

That being said, there are some procedures Maryknoll won't spring for. These include hair transplants, nose jobs and face lifts, although truth be told, I haven't asked. I could certainly use two out of three. (Shut up!) Now, gender reassignment surgery...never mind...self-censoring is a good thing sometimes. (Hey, can I help it if my stream of consciousness backs up from time to time?)

But cochlear implants, hip and knee replacements, hearing aids and transitional lenses are ours when the need arises. We have excellent health care and this is just as well, because we come back from the missions with some pretty exotic diseases and ailments. Never mind malaria, try bilharzia, amoebas and other assorted parasites. Although I think our doctors here welcome the opportunity to treat us. We are living Merck Manuals.

And so, while our nation screams and yells over health care reform, let us give thanks that Maryknoll provides us with the best care anyone could want or hope for.

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