PORTLAND, OR – A new policy has caused a controversy at a local hospital, with multiple departments banding together against the measure which now allows janitorial services to wear white coats. Starting last month, janitors have been given long-length white coats to wear as part of their mandatory uniforms during work hours.
“A hospital-wide questionnaire made it clear that patients felt as though they didn’t see enough physicians around the hospital, which left them feeling unsafe,” said hospital CEO Joseph Summers in a statement released last month. “Rather than hiring more physicians, which would cost the hospital millions of dollars a year, a simpler solution was to purchase extra white coats for janitorial services, a one-time cost of under $5,000.”
“This allows us to continue providing the best care while cutting costs, allowing us to adequately compensate our hospital administrative leadership who enacted this brilliant cost saving policy,” he smiled.
The majority of staff has voiced their concerns about the new plan, mostly due to fear that their own professional recognition would be denigrated. “Patients already have a hard time telling who the real caregivers are,” said Sherri Jones, an RN. “For example, I wear a white coat because in addition to being an RN I also have a PhD in Comparative Greek Literature.”
She continued, “So when I introduce myself as Dr. Jones to a patient, I do it because I earned that title and a white coat with five long years of high-level comparative literature analysis.”
Patients seem to be unaware of the new policy, but the hospital administration says that the response has been positive. “I am really enjoying my stay here,” said Marie Hathaway, an elderly woman being treated for pneumonia. “There are so many doctors! My favorite is the one who brings me my food tray every day. He always has such a cute little hair net on like he just came from the operating room!”
Hathaway admits the system isn’t perfect, however. “My least favorite doctor is the one who wakes me up at 6 every morning and is the only one who feels the need to refer to himself as a doctor. What a jerk!”
She added, “Also, I think the doctor who takes out the trash doesn’t speak much English.”
Respiratory technicians and dietitians have had a particularly vocal voice in the matter. “I can’t believe that the hospital administration is letting janitors wear white coats,” said one technician who did not want to be named. “I mean, the nerve of these people!”
“Being confused for a physician is a privilege, not a right,” he added. “And I earned that privilege after graduating from an accelerated 18-month program at Pima Medical Institute.”