Hospitalists and Clothes Dryers are a Lot Alike

Danielle Scheurer, MD, MSCR, SFHM

It might seem like a stretch, but my recent encounters with clothes dryers have taught me a few lessons about what HM groups need to function at their highest level:

  • We need to know one another;
  • We need to undergo routine maintenance; and
  • We need to not get overworked.

I’ve had pretty bad luck with clothes dryers. Washing machines, no problem; I find them cooperative, reliable, long-lasting. But dryers and I are perfectly incompatible.

So I should have known I was in for problems when, last summer, we moved into a house with an old conveyed dryer. After closing on the house, I became the proud owner of the off-white, rust-tinted clothes dryer, along with the expired warranty and a stack of maintenance books. It motored along fine for a while, unattended by me (or anyone else in my household), until one day it just stopped. It stalled, mid-load, leaving inside a huge lump of wet clothes, and another, wetter load waiting in the washer.

So, not terribly surprised by yet another unreliable appliance but annoyed nonetheless, I Googled “dryer repair, Charleston, South Carolina.” A millisecond later, I found what seemed like a reputable, appealing name. Feeling like I was supporting local small business, I dialed the number and heard on the other end of a crackly landline the voice of “Fred,” his name changed to protect the innocent. After a few minutes on the phone with Fred, I imagined (later to be confirmed) a local Southern man with a broad-based baseball cap, low-riding jeans with a large belt buckle, and a knack for dryer-sized appliances.

His first logical question after my plea for help was: “What kinda dryer you got?” Hmmm, good question, since I never actually paid attention. Maytag? GE? “Umm,” I answered, “not sure.” Fred then uttered the next most logical question, this time sounding slightly annoyed: “Gas or electric?” Now you are getting a sense of how much time I spend around my dryer: “Umm, not sure.”

There was a pause on the other end of the line, and a pit in my stomach. I was thinking, “I can’t believe I am failing a screening test for this darn appliance.” As I considered making up an answer, he broke the silence: “Well … then I guess I’ll just have to pay you a visit.”

Lesson: It is pretty hard to take good care of your dryer, or to fix it when it breaks, if you don’t know too much about it. HM groups need to get to know each other, to have an understanding of what we are made of, and how we can help each other when in need of “repair.”

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