Saturday, January 24, 2009

A hospital system - one organization, many parts

The hospital where I work is part of a larger organization that is made up of 3 hospitals, along with various clinics, pharmacies and other facilities and offices that are spread throughout northeast Iowa. The organization is staffed with people who do all kinds of work: physicians, nurses, secretaries, administrators, housekeepers, nurse aides, dietary workers, managers, lab assistants, maintenance workers, materials and distribution workers, and so much more. I was just reading a report that shows that as of June 30, 2008, there were 3,020 associates who worked in one way or another in the organization.

It's pretty easy to walk into a medical clinic or a hospital and give no thought to what and who actually makes the place run. But with me being a part of this organization - and being one who happens to visit a handful of the clinics and other offices daily (I'm a courier) - I have sort of an 'insiders look' at what makes it all run. In the various places I go, I interact with lots of different associates every day, of all types of different occupations, and I can see how so many seemingly little things work together to make it all happen. And the thing is, when everyone is doing their job, the whole thing generally works out very well!

But what if a person who is trained as a physical therapist were to go in and try to perform heart surgery? Or what if an office manager were to go in and attempt to cook the patients' meals? What if a courier (me) saw a nurse drawing a patient's blood and said, "here, let me take over for you!" I don't think the patient would appreciate that very much! Not to mention that that would mess up the entire system, and there would be disastrous results.

See, for our purposes here, the system works this way (in general): The patient comes in with a problem. The secretary handles the necessary paperwork. The physician works to diagnose the problem. The nurse draws the blood. I come and take the blood to the lab. The lab techs run the tests on the blood. They then send the test results to the office, where the secretary files them and gives them to the physician, and the physician gives the patient the proper care by either prescribing medicine, a medical procedure, more tests, etc, etc, all of which requires other staff within the organization to do their own jobs!

Each associate plays a very important part in the whole process. So again, with the what if's... What if the nurse drove the blood from the clinic to the hospital? Who would be there to draw blood on other patients and do all the other duties of a nurse? What if the physician had to handle all the paperwork? Who would treat the patients? What if the lab techs decided they wanted to see the patients themselves and try to diagnose their problems? Could they properly diagnose the problems? And who would run the lab tests on the blood? I'm being absurd to make an obvious point. With each person doing what they're specifically set apart to do, the organization runs well. And really this is only a very tiny glimpse into the many roles that each of the above people play.

No one in the organization is unimportant. Sure, some of the higher-paid doctors act like snobs... LOL... but yet they couldn't do what they do unless everyone else was doing what they do. And some of the lower-paid associates may feel unimportant when they compare themselves to some of the higher profile associates, but yet if you remove them from their positions, the whole thing can fall apart quickly! Each person does their part, and allows others to do their parts.

In my "One Body..." post I said that in this post I would give some practical applications to life in the Body of Christ... and really I didn't intend to go quite so far with this one particular example, so the next post will be where I had intended to go. Still, to me the hospital system example is a great example of how there are no unimportant parts in a "body" and how it's important that each person knows their part and sticks to it, and doesn't try to be what they're not!


  1. Joel! Great post, I love your analogy and how it relates to the body of the Christ and how we all have a role to play in Father's story!!! If we didn't do our part, and decided to do someone elses part, it would be a disaster...

    So, what exactly do you do at the hospital? You deliver blood samples to the tech lab people who test the blood?!? Very interesting! Please, tell me more, it will be nice to finally know what you do as a job....

    Love In Freedom, Nicole!

  2. Joel,
    Ah....what a great analogy!! Indeed, every single person's job in the hospital (or Body of Christ) is very important for good functioning of the whole. As well, it's important for each person to do their specific job and not try (unless asked by the Supervisor (in the Body, that would be God) to. We are all given unique gifts, of which He specially designed us for.

    Great post!

    ~Amy :)

  3. Hey gals,

    Yes, I think it's good that we all understand that each of us has an important function within the Body of Christ, and if we didn't do our part, or tried to do someone else's part, it would stop the natural functioning of the Body. Amy, I like your point that if asked by the 'Supervisor' it's possible that we could be led to do something else as well. And if that's true, He would enable us to do that.

    Nicole, my official job title is "Courier." I may write about that sometime, because my time on that job has been a huge part of my overall journey with Christ. The basics of my job are pretty simple. I start at the hospital each day, picking up paperwork, materials, boxes, supplies, you name it --- anything that needs to go to the system's outlying clinics in other nearby towns --- and I drive to those places, dropping off the supplies and picking up other supplies, paperwork, etc, that goes to other clinics or to the hospital. I also pick up "labs," which includes blood, pee, poop (I'm using technical terms... LOL) and whatever other body fluids and parts need to go back to the hospital for testing.

    Fortunately I'm not the one who has to 'extract' all those things from the patients. :D The lab people have all the stuff in zip lock bags and I simply carry it in a cooler. When I'm walking through the hospital, or in the elevator, and people ask me what's in the cooler, I just tell them it's my lunch or it's a six pack... LOL. =D

    My time on the road every day is what's most precious to me. A perfect amount of time alone --- to listen to the radio or my mp3 player, or to just be quiet. I think that's the part I'll probably write about some day.