Tray tables or overbed tables are those rolling things used in hospitals for patients to eat on while confined in bed. We mental health workers on the other hand have different uses for them which I’m going to enumerate here shortly. Why am I talking about this in the first place? Well, our Nurse Manager, out of the blue, sent out an email last week that we should not be using those tables anymore other than on the geriatric psych unit. The reason given was that they shouldn’t be used for passing medications, for staff to eat on, or to lay our clipboards on (these are clipboards with a sheet for each patient where we mark their location and behaviors). Okay, I can understand the reason regarding medications, and eating, but there are a lot of other legitimate uses for the table:
*When the staff takes patient vital signs in the hallway, they need something to lay the clipboard to write on.
*On the night shift, we often cannot find another staff member to monitor the hallway when we are doing admissions, thus, we have to cover the hallway at the same time we are asking the new patient to sign papers and inspect their belongings. We use the tray table to lay the papers which the new patient has to sign. Without the table, we have to pull one staff member off the floor and go inside a consult room. God forbid if we get two admissions at the same time which does happen!
*For the same multitasking reason, we monitor the hallway at the same time we are charting on the work supplied laptop. And where do you think we put the laptop on? Yep, you are right – the tray table.
*Frequent items asked for by patients are paper and pencil. The tray table has a small drawer where we can keep those, thus preventing the patients from having to go to the nurse’s station every time they need those items.
*When I make new admission chart packs, I lay paper clips and assemble the necessary sheets on the table. I mean, really, I cannot make those packs without a table!
I implore the powers that be to return the tray tables because they make us more productive with our job. Working without them is like losing a limb. By the way, this was the same Nurse Manager who approved the purchase of four of these tables when we asked for them several years ago. I don’t know what changed between then and now.
Our nurse manager is never going to see this blog so what’s the point of writing it? Just airing my frustration over the seemingly unjustified removal of a very important equipment. That’s all.
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