Thursday, April 26, 2012

Communication and An Accident...

Most things in life that go well are generally simple concepts well-communicated.  In fact, good communication may well be the key to anything related to people, relationships, and good quality of life.

Walter Reed National Naval Medical Center is a world-class hospital and recovery center in Bethesda, Maryland. Our wounded warriors and their family caregivers reside here for many months and years as they heal.  Our veterans come here for routine and specialty medical care.  Warrior Caregivers live here and learn to adapt and to communicate; reaching out for education, information, and support. 

Good communication in life is key, and even more so when warriors are in recovery.  Slight change in perspective now.  Below see an uncovered pipe at Walter Reed.  This isn’t a pipe opening at the edge of a field.  It’s in the middle of the parking lot.  Was this opening marked?  How long was it there?  Was this potential hazard reported?  Did anyone communicate this potential problem? 

Well, no.  Silence.  Not until one of the wounded warriors fell into it last week while walking through the parking lot.  Pretty good shock to the system, don’t you think?  The injured service member was seen at the emergency room, and thankfully did not break a leg, though the incident left bad scrapes and bruises on that previously injured leg.  And, as most of you know, that description covers a nearly four-hour wait in the ER, an X-ray, and a tetanus shot.  The caregiver and wounded warrior leadership were contacted and this avoidable injury was documented.  If only reasonable communication had been used to avert this incident in the first place. 

The next day calls were made (good communication) and the property authorities were contacted and asked to fix or mark the pipe opening so others were not hurt.  But then, silence reigned again.  In the week since this occurred, neither the service member nor the caregiver has been contacted for follow-up.  

Finally, ask yourself how any able-bodied worker at this elite medical facility could view warriors and veterans day in, day out, in wheelchairs, on crutches, with canes, some with very visible amputations and injuries and leave this hazard in place?  It all boils down to good solid communication.

Let’s make a commitment to reach out and communicate well – it may become contagious!


  1. Disgusting! Our Vets should be safe at this facility. Even if safe nowhere else, they should be safe there. Disgusted!

  2. We agree that it's unfortunate, but want to underscore that communication and being situationally aware is critical. As already written, strong communication, and responsive follow-up makes a big difference toward a positive quality of life, especially in the recovery stages.