A Kid in the Hospital

31 Jul

Veterinary hospitals are often run by families.  I’ve worked for 2 married couples, had relatives of the vet as co-workers at 3 different jobs, entertained kids of co-workers/vets at 4 different places, had sick children coming to work with vets at 2 jobs, and had newborn babies crying/nursing/getting raised during work three times.

I think it’s somewhat nice to have such a closeness at work.  And I am FOR mothers working.  For equality and feminist purposes, working mothers are a good thing.  Except I do not think kids should be brought to vet hospitals (or any place of work for that matter, save for a daycare) for extended time, especially if that hospital is open and trying to do business.

Here is why:

When the kids are sick–and there is no one else to take them on short notice, I don’t mind if they are brought in, tucked in one corner, and quietly sleep, read, or watch movies all day.  BUT if the kid feels well enough to walk around, make messes, and be underfoot, well, I say they are well enough to be at school.  Plus, I don’t need a sick kid getting me (and everyone else) sick.

Vet hospitals only have so much room.  Especially on a busy day, it gets tedious shuffling a child out of the way.  And sometimes the kids are being noisy so the clients can hear them–or worse startling the animals when you are trying to get things done.  Pushing a wheeled chair around when I am trying to restrain a scared cat with a short fuse for a blood draw = not helpful.  A kid in the surgery room–during a surgery–really makes me crazy.

I challenge that the parents are not fully concentrating on the job when their kids are present.  The child is constantly trying to talk to their parents, asking questions, demanding food, wanting entertainment.  There is no way the parent is accomplishing regular job tasks at the normal level of competency with so much distraction.  And it looks terrible when the client can hear the kid trying to interrupt Dr. Mom while she’s on the phone or in an appointment.

Co-workers (employees in general) find it disruptive.  I am not a teacher or a baby-sitter.  I did not sign up to work with kids, try to discipline them, or answer their incessant questions.  At one job the vet’s (really obnoxious, precocious, undisciplined) daughter hung out every day after school.  And one of the boys at work literally knocked her down and mashed her face in the grass.  It sounds super-uncool and unethical now, but believe me–we all wanted to mash her face in the grass.  Plus, even if I am OK with a kid being there–I have work to do.

Cleaning with a kid in the place is like brushing your teeth while eating oreos.  Totally not my quote, but true all the same.  As an example, I cleaned during lunch Friday per the usual.  Kid ate crusty cheese in 3 rooms.  Kid ran amuck upstairs.  Kid touched everything with sticky (possibly germy) hands.  So I went in early Saturday to re-clean.  The kid came back Saturday.  Got crumbs in one room.  Spilled water in the hallway.  Trampled weed remnants in 2 other rooms.  So I had to go in early on Monday to clean a third time. . .  Then I found an apple core in the laundry. . .  It’s just too much.

Safety is an issue.  The child usually is not aware of animal handling.  They could get bit, scratched, kicked, trampled, poisoned, step on a needle–possibilities for getting injured (for anyone, but especially a kid) in a medical setting are endless.  I was especially worried when the vet’s daughter was around horses, but seemingly unaware that they startle.  Things could go really bad having someone around who is small and not always paying attention.  OSHA would not like it.

Having a child at work is in no way professional.  And having the kid actually doing stuff to “help” is problematic.  Counting medications or or really doing anything makes me worry.  Employees often make counting or medication mistakes–a kid could easily do it.  It’s a liability.  And I’m 100% certain clients would NOT like it.

Boredom–it’s a long day for me, I can’t imagine having nothing to do during that span of time.  For kids, it must feel like forever.  Especially when no one is paying attention to you, there’s no entertainment what-so-ever, and you keep getting barked at.

And of course, employees feel compelled to say something for all of the above reasons.  But it is a lose-lose situation.  There is no (fucking) way to talk to the mother, as I am 100% certain her reaction would not be desirable–no matter the mother.  Mothers that bring their kid to work in the first place obviously don’t have or understand the above concerns.  She figures her kid is smarter, more well behaved, and more likable then the average kid so common sense shouldn’t apply.

So parents, leave your damn kid at home, in school, or with the sitter.  No one may say it to you, but they HATE when you’re bringing them to the work-place.

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