Monday, December 19, 2011

Bedpan Hoppers

I began my nursing career in 1975 as a student nurse in the LPN training program.  I remember being scared to death as I had no idea what I was getting myself into.  Actually, if the truth be known, I kind of felt that way for the next 30 years of my career, never quite sure what I was getting into because a nurse never knows what's behind the next patient door from day to day.

Bedpan hoppers:  For you young nurses, you probably have no idea what these are...and thank God you don't. 

A bedpan hopper was a device that was used to wash the old steel bedpans.  After your patient had a BM, you covered it with a towel...and carried it down the hall walking briskly past your fellow smirking co-workers, past the hospital chaplain, past new post-op surgical patients arriving to the floor, past Mr. Smith who was being discharged and past visitors all the way to the end of the hall to the dirty utility room.  Trust me, the towel did nothing to combat the odor eminating from that heavy  pan filled to the brim with 9 days worth of compacted stool. 

In the utility room, there was a steel door bolted to the wall that opened and allowed you to slide the bedpan in, you closed it and pressed the button, waiting for "the hopper" to clean your bedpan.  Then you had to carry it back to the patient's room, all wet and dripping with...liquified fecal matter, because they never did get completely clean. 

**And...most 1975, there was no such thing as disposable gloves for the nursing staff. 

1 comment:

  1. Ha ha funny! You forgot the part where (at Bellevue Hospital, at least) the doors didn't close completely and the yuck blew out the sides of the door onto your shoes and stockings.