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Neighborly Sharing Is Caring But Please Have Respect

We live in a very large, but tight-knit community that stays in close communication via a private Facebook group. As one of the Administrators of the group, I’ve had the “pleasure” of creating and enforcing rules and boundaries in this online world. Over the years, rules and guidelines have had to be created and I’m pleased to say it is has become a fairly civil group that mostly self-enforces kindness, courtesy and consideration of neighbors.

One common-themed argument has come up several times in the last month. Whenever an ambulance or fire truck is seen in front of a house, neighbors take to the internet to immediately ask what is going on and if everyone is alright. Many folks have such care and love for their neighbors that they really do want to know if everyone is alright. If it is someone they know (and even someone they don’t), they want to know if the family/person needs help or assistance. Others feel this is a huge invasion of privacy. While there have been elderly neighbors who have fallen, and then appreciated the outpouring of support while they recover, there are also neighbors who have undergone trauma or loss that is understandably something they want to deal with privately.

One way we Admins have dealt with this is to make a rule that house numbers and addresses are not allowed to be posted unless approval of the homeowner has been given. Block numbers are allowed, but no pinpointing of exact neighbors. We ask that all neighbors communicate via private messaging about personal information and we do delete posts with sensitive information about neighbors. Again, this information must be approved by the neighbor before posting.

Despite a pretty good record of kindness this past year, last month (in the course of two days) we lost two community members to suicide. I woke up to the group FILLED with questions about “who died?” “I heard there was a suicide! Who was it?” and this month, once again, “I hear there was a homicide at [exact address], does anyone have details?”

These community members all have family on the page. I cannot in my right mind fathom how neighbors can have such a lack of empathy and respect. A few close friends found out about the death via these kinds of posts. We admins deleted these posts and privately messaged the posters. We requested that they keep their questions silent out of respect for the family and to allow them the privacy they deserve during these tough times. Most people were very understanding. Some seem confused as to what the problem was. Invariably, the families came forward and posted information about a the upcoming viewing and funeral for those who want to attend. Better connected neighbors sent out requests for food delivery or other support as needed.

In this world of instant gratification of knowledge, it is nice–on one hand–to know that neighbors still deep down care about one another. But for the love of your neighbors… take a moment to privately ask a friend or a neighbor for information or have patience. I cannot imagine the pain of going online only to read unending questions about your loved one. 1102-17

I am also on a community forum but, as yet, we have not had to deal with this issue.   The closest situation was about 6 weeks ago and I posted the inquiry.  I had witnessed a horrific accident right in front of my house and was a first responder on the scene. The vehicle turning left into the subdivision across from my house had been hit so hard that it had flipped upside down crumbling the small pick up truck’s roof.  We could not get the driver out and waited for the fire department to use the jaws of life.  He was alive when he was removed. I asked our group if he was a resident in the subdivision or a service vendor (within a larger context of discussing the dangerous intersection and what we need to do to fix it).   The family then replied with the information of who he was and the extent of the injuries.


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  • Aleko December 5, 2017, 3:27 am

    Social media have simply expanded too fast over the last decade or so for people to fully internalise their effects. People have been opening mouth before engaging brain since the Stone Age, and many of us haven’t yet registered that doing so on Facebook (or Twitter, Snapchat, wherever) multiplies the effects instantly and potentially thousands-fold. OP’s neighbours have been asking exactly the same questions, out of good neighbourly concern, that they would ask if they met another neighbour in the street or the corner shop, just not realising how different it is to do that on Facebook.

    We had a demonstration of this a couple of weeks ago in London, when a loud argument between two men in Oxford Circus tube station ended with thousands of people fleeing in panic, the whole of the West End shopping area in lockdown and dozens of police marksmen and the rest of the terrorist response teams deployed. The thing snowballed almost entirely thanks to bystanders’ instant tweeting of whether they heard or imagined they heard. It didn’t help that a pop singer with several million Twitter followers was in Selfridges store at the time and instantly tweeted “F**k everyone get out of Selfridges now gun shots!!” He defended this action later, apparently still not grasping that he had been doing the electronic equivalent of shouting “Fire” in a crowded theatre: http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/music/news/oxford-circus-olly-murs-gunshots-selfridges-piers-morgan-a8075331.html

    (The British military *have* figured this out. For some years, whenever a soldier is killed or gravely wounded in action, his unit have automatically been put into personal-communications lockdown: nobody can phone or email home until the soldier’s family have been notified. Before that, too many families were getting the news from their son’s best mate’s family.)

    You’ll never stop everyone from blurting out stuff without thinking, but in this kind of community group I’d say the issue certainly should be spelled out clearly in the rules.

    • EchoGirl December 5, 2017, 1:58 pm

      There’s definitely something to be said for social media in times of tragedy; specifically, the feature that allows people to let their social media contacts know they’re okay. (My brother lives in New York, and when the incident happened with the guy who ran down pedestrians, it was certainly a relief when he marked himself ‘safe’ on Facebook.) That said, it also allows the attention-seekers and the well-meaning but misguided to have a platform that leads to chaos.

  • Just4Kicks December 5, 2017, 5:24 am

    One of my husband’s brothers committed suicide many years ago.
    My husband and another brother found him in his car in the garage after their mom said they hadn’t heard from brother in a few days.
    He had been asked for a divorce from his wife on Christmas day and fell into a deep depression, although none of us knew he was considering suicide.
    He had rigged all of the windows and doors with broken glass and ragged pieces of shale.
    We have no idea why…
    Anyway, the people at the funeral service who demanded to know all the dirty details about “the booby trapped doors and windows” was horrifying and disgusting.
    I actually got right in a family friends face when he approached my MIL at the service asking what the hell was that all about.
    I told him this is NOT the time or place, we all are barely holding it together, and it’s NONE of his damn business!!!

    • Dyan December 5, 2017, 12:31 pm

      Kicks I don’t even know what to say…just horrible for your family and horrible for that person to even say anything to the family like that…

      • staceyizme December 5, 2017, 9:22 pm

        I am sorry that anyone would do this to your husband’s family and to you. It is beyond rude and so stunning in its entitlement that any such “friend” should be banned from further contact.

        • Just4Kicks December 6, 2017, 10:26 am

          Thank you, and believe me, quite a few people were on “The List” after their horrible behavior at my BIL’S funeral.
          I’m not sure there is ever a good time to ask about those kind of things, but at the funeral is definitely not it.

      • Just4Kicks December 6, 2017, 3:37 am

        @Dyan: Thanks, I appreciate your comment.
        After the service, every single family member said they were approached by at least one
        person, if not more, to ask about the booby traps above the windows and doors.
        The best explanation we could come up with is Brother didn’t want to be stopped in his plan to commit suicide…to this day we don’t know for sure.
        I happened to sitting next to my MIL when that guy came over, to ask the MOTHER of the person who died “Say….what’s this I hear about glass over the door frames?!? What the HELL is THAT all about?!?”

        • Dyan December 6, 2017, 11:51 am

          wow just wow…I cant even imagine keep that stuff to yourself …what is wrong with people such a sad time in peoples lives then to say anything but I am sorry

          • Just4Kicks December 7, 2017, 3:08 am

            Oh, he did mumble a “Sorry for your loss….” then leaned in to ask his inappropriate questions.
            Anyone on this forum knows there was no love lost between my late mil and I, but I very felt very sorry and protective of her that day. She was a complete mess to begin with, and our “friends” weren’t doing much to help.

  • NostalgicGal December 5, 2017, 6:20 am

    I am a moderator on a forum, but it’s worldwide and not on the same scale. Still, we have our share of having to deal with the insensitive and the clueless. We are volunteers that give our time to make sure that the entire forum cluster remains a civil and a safe place, no flame wars, no trolls, no spam. It’s not easy. At times we flag out something and discuss it, then decide what to do with it. So it remains a unified front. It’s not easy.

    On the smaller scale where it’s very localized, it’d be a lot harder to develop what we call ‘the hive mind’ to keep things uniform and unified. I can’t see an easy answer, other than moderators and administrators having to stay on top of it and getting everyone to understand WHY. There isn’t an easy answer.

  • Nicole December 5, 2017, 8:44 am

    My fiancee died at our home (a preexisting condition) and after I returned to work the crossing guard by our home would follow and shout at me asking for details. Please don’t do this! Often the loved ones are not ready to talk about it with strangers.

    • Dyan December 5, 2017, 5:23 pm

      that is just horrible …what are people thinking…I guess they are not thinking…

      • Crochet Addict December 7, 2017, 1:25 pm

        When my father died relatively young (54), a coworker asked me what he passed from the day I returned to work. This was pretty normal- I worked in a close-knit department, all of my coworkers knew he had end-stage renal failure and provided me with so much moral support throughout his illness- a few close coworkers even came to his viewing. But his death was pretty sudden and I wasn’t prepared for it. I was a little out of it with grief, and told her that he’d died of peritonitis. She googled it, freaked out, moved her desk far away from mine, and told me I needed to get tested. Because apparently peritonitis is contagious, and she thought I was a walking peritonitis bomb. I still haven’t forgiven her completely.

    • staceyizme December 5, 2017, 9:24 pm

      That is so appalling that it would have warranted a report to the police for harassment/ stalking!

      • Just4Kicks December 6, 2017, 2:05 pm

        Oh no!
        How crass and rude, not to mention hurtful, I’m so sorry you have to deal with that.
        And, yes you best believe I would call his boss and complain.
        What an insensitive jackass!!!

  • Julie December 5, 2017, 9:21 am

    If you click Manage Group, then above the details of Admin Activity, Click on More – then Edit Group Settings – at the bottom are two options:
    “Posting Permissions” and you select either “Anyone in the group” or “Only admins”
    Below that is also “Post Approval” and a check box to mark “All group posts must be approved by an admin or a moderator.”
    With the danger of people learning of the death of their parent or child, which has happened to people I have known, you may really want to consider using these instead of letting people post anything they want, for who knows how many hours, before an Admin may be online to delete.

    • jokergirl129 December 6, 2017, 11:48 am

      That’s actually a good idea and something the OP should keep in mind. You never know when it might be needed and honestly depending on how many people we’re talking about here you just know that someone (or more than just one person to be realistic) will say something they shouldn’t have if another tragedy happens. And people will see that post for possibly hours if an Admin isn’t on there already to deal with it and for most people a few hours is too late. But if the posts have to be approved first before anyone can read them this can save a lot of people heartache and keep sensitive information from becoming common knowledge right away.

  • Lerah99 December 5, 2017, 9:50 am

    My friend lost her 19 year old nephew in a car accident.
    He was a freshman at collage a couple hours away from his house.
    His family wasn’t financially prepared for his loss.
    So my friend set up a Go Fund Me asking for help to cover funeral costs and his student loans because his parents were cosigners.

    And she was FLOODED with requests from people who wanted all the gory details.
    People straight up asking: “Was it drugs?” “Was it suicide?” “How did he die?”

    And when she posted that it was a car accident she still got questions: “Was he drunk?” “Was the other guy drunk?” “Did the person/people in the other car survive?”

    And those were just the questions people felt comfortable posting publicly on the Go Fund Me page.

    She had several more inappropriate questions via private message on Facebook. Including one of his college friends insisting that he wanted to see the body before it was cremated, because he was a pre-med major and felt seeing a friend’s dead body would be helpful in his future career.

    Some people simply don’t seem to understand that their desire to know doesn’t entitle them to know.

    • Ms T December 5, 2017, 4:39 pm

      While any death is a tragedy, and certainly the death of a young person who had his entire life ahead of him, I don’t think asking questions about that death is quite the same thing. Not because of the death itself, but because they’re publically asking for donations and money. I consider any use of GoFundMe or similar sites a trade; generally, its financing in exchange for giving up your right to privacy on the matter.

      The private messages on Facebook, however, are a completely different matter.

    • Just4Kicks December 6, 2017, 3:41 am

      @Lerah: I’m so sorry that happened to your friend!
      Honestly, I (having gone something similar) don’t know what goes on in people’s heads sometimes.

  • Miss-E December 5, 2017, 9:56 am

    “Despite a pretty good record of kindness this past year, last month (in the course of two days) we lost two community members to suicide.“

    I’m sure I won’t be the first to post about this line but I’m going to do it anyway:

    This is not how suicide or depression work. These two suicides do not fall on you or your community, no amount of kind gestures or warm smiles can sway a person who is determined to end their life. I hope neither you nor the me,Bers of your community are carrying this burden around, feeling the blame for the loss of those lives.

    • JenAnn December 5, 2017, 6:31 pm

      I think the OP actually meant that the community had been kind about respecting privacy and reasonable boundaries within the group/community, but then the suicides occurred and a number of members quickly crossed the line and flooded the group with intrusive questions.

    • Lerah99 December 5, 2017, 7:06 pm

      @Miss-E, I don’t think that’s how she intended the line AT ALL.

      ““Despite a pretty good record of kindness this past year, ” – She’s talking about the forum here. That the forum has been really good about staying on topic and treating each other with respect and kindness.

      “last month (in the course of two days) we lost two community members to suicide.“ – This is letting us know the event that changed the forums behavior.

      ” I woke up to the group FILLED with questions about ‘who died?’ ‘I heard there was a suicide! Who was it?’ and this month, once again, ‘I hear there was a homicide at [exact address], does anyone have details?’” – This is the showing how the forum jumped the shark and stopped showing each other kindness and consideration.

      In no way was she trying to correlate the behavior of the forum (mostly kind) to the tragic suicide of the residents.

      Instead she was stating that after those two suicides, people on the forum forgot their decorum and started posting unkind questions.

    • InTheEther December 6, 2017, 12:39 am

      I don’t think the OP was trying to imply that the suicides were the forum’s fault. Just that the 2 suicides were the catalyst for a turn towards less kind behavior.

      • SJ December 10, 2017, 7:18 pm


    • SJ December 6, 2017, 2:17 am

      I sort of assumed that those two things she mentions in the sentence weren’t supposed to be connected that way. I think she meant “Despite a pretty good record of kindness this past year, there was some thoughtlessness with regards to some tragedies.”

  • Margaret December 5, 2017, 10:01 am

    I have a cousin who posts stuff on FB like “Prayers for my cousin Bertha who is in the hospital with pregnancy complications” or “Prayers for my mother who fell yesterday and broke her hip”. I was extremely angry when he posted about my mother in the same way: “Prayers for my Aunt Molly who has been diagnosed with liver failure”. None of this is his business – I think he wants people to post how sorry they are for HIM.

    • Harry December 5, 2017, 4:41 pm

      Me again. I have several friends who live for Facebook. They are on it all the time, posting pictures, thoughts, meals, errands, almost anything that most people do day in and day out. Yes, as much as I dislike social media, I do have an account to keep in touch with friends and family, but I can tell you, that if anything big were to happen to me I would call these friends immediately and tell them they’d better NOT post anything and that I will be the one to decide when and how I want to let people know.

    • Just4Kicks December 6, 2017, 3:42 am

      This. Exactly.

    • WMK December 6, 2017, 7:27 pm

      Two of my three sisters like to do this on Facebook and I really wish they wouldn’t.

      My older sister did this to me on the morning of my hysterectomy two years ago and it was kinda creepy to get “thoughts and prayers” from people I don’t even know. It also really ticked me off because there were people asking about my surgery and I really didn’t think they were owed an explanation. I wasn’t planning on sharing that information via social media, so why should they be able to know?

      This oversharing on FB by my sisters has also lead to panic at times when they decide to announce that a family member is at the hospital only to turns out that person was visiting someone or was there for a minor injury issue.

      • Just4Kicks December 7, 2017, 3:11 am

        That is one of the many reasons I’m no longer on Facebook.
        The biggest problem I had was old and destructive boyfriends looking me up to “see how I was doing”.
        I’m married with four kids….now bug off!!!

  • Harry December 5, 2017, 11:15 am

    Sorry, I know that I’m old and out of touch with some things, but I am NOT a fan of social media, neighborhood forums included. It’s just another way for nosey people to rubberneck. If a family is having a crisis the LAST thing they need is a bunch of gawkers, and ‘concerned neighbors’ reporting the incident live so everyone can be up to date, just everyone MYOB, the facts will eventually surface and at that time you can express your thoughts and concerns.

    • Dee December 5, 2017, 6:51 pm

      It’s not that you’re old, it’s that you’re reasonable, and filled with common sense. You’re not alone with your dislike of social media. Even my kids are not impressed with it; one of them isn’t on any platforms at all, as he doesn’t want to waste any of his time on that kind of thing.

  • Dee December 5, 2017, 11:17 am

    The reason this feels so wrong is because it is so wrong. In this case, Facebook is simply the electronic venue for neighbourhood gossip. It’s guaranteed to get back to those who don’t want to be gossiped about (which is pretty much every human being). So why use social media? Why not just use private emails, cc-ing everybody in the group when important news comes up? At least then, if your group insists on gossiping, the “news” doesn’t travel like shouts across a fence.

    If I lived in that neighbourhood I would be very peeved to know I was talked about on social media like this. I would steer very clear of the biddies involved; this method of “communication” divides the community more than it brings it together. It also excludes those people who have good reasons to not be on Facebook, like me. So even if those people want to be involved with this sort of group they are being left out because they don’t have what it takes to be a part of the group. And it’s high school, all over again.

    My son found out, via a Facebook message, that his grandmother had died. I hadn’t wanted to disrupt his day in class to pass on such a message; silly me, I thought it was something to convey in a sensitive manner, you know, in person? At the end of the day, when he had come home from school? But, unbeknownst to me, he found out first thing in the morning and spent the whole day wondering and worrying if I knew and/or how I was handling the news. Why people think Facebook is for anything but the most benign messages is beyond me, but I’ve heard these kinds of tales a lot, where unsuspecting people have been told devastating news in the worst way possible. Ugh.

  • Zhaleh December 5, 2017, 11:51 am

    I lost my daughter to fentynol poisoning a few months ago. (They call it an overdose, but it’s poisoning in my books). I’m so glad I don’t use Facebook or any other means of social media. Cleaning the house over turns signs of her everywhere. Trying to maintain life and get on with things become difficult when I receive mail for her or some idiot from the funeral home calls and asks for her, instead of me. I think the social media aspect would crush me.
    But her little sister sees things on her friends Instagram accounts and that sort of thing. I just tell her to block them (her sisters friends added her to their lists as a way of reaching out). You can’t really blame a bunch of kids for going to social media to cope with a loss, especially when they live their life that on there.
    The thing is, I made a choice not to participate in the social media thing, and I’m kind of glad I did. I’m not sure what crazy thing I might post after a couple of glasses of wine in a pool of grief.
    When you do sign on to participate, you do so with the knowledge that you will be exposed to the immediate, sudden thoughts of other personalities. If you sign up for a community web watch, or what have you, you’ve signed away a bit more of your privacy.
    I would never participate in such a group, I value my privacy so much. I say good morning to my neighbours and stop and chat sometimes, but I wouldn’t want to be sitting at home, working or watching something to receive an alert that Marge from next door wants to know if the garbage in the lane is mine or my neighbours ( my stupid neighbour drops her garbage bag off her porch for her husband to come put it in the bin later, so irritating but not worth a fight and yes I often put it in for them whilst going to my bins) or if anyone knows for whom the ambulance down the street was sent.
    My home is my refuge from this broken world. I do not invite intruders. What I’m trying to say is, you make a choice to open yourself up to communicate in this way, and not everyone knows or shares your boundaries.
    So, protect yourself. You can’t control what others do.

    • Tanya December 5, 2017, 5:05 pm

      I am so very sorry for your loss. If this is your kind of thing, please accept this hug from an internet stranger for both you and your younger daughter. Too many wonderful people are being taken from us these days. Take care.

    • Dyan December 5, 2017, 5:26 pm

      I am so sorry for your loss…so sad..

    • Lerah99 December 5, 2017, 7:09 pm

      @Zhaleh, I am so sorry for your loss.

    • Just4Kicks December 6, 2017, 3:44 am

      @Zhaleh: I’m so sorry about your daughter, prayers and blessings to you and your family.

  • JD December 5, 2017, 12:36 pm

    My husband likes to tease about the big circle of friends that our two kids travel in (all young adults) being glued to Facebook, but I will say this — when three young people from their circle were killed together in a terrible car wreck, their posts were admirably silent about it for several days, until the funerals were done. Then what they posted were things like, “Farewell sweet friends,” and “We will miss them very much,” without asking or giving grisly details. I was impressed.

    • Louise December 6, 2017, 3:46 am

      I definitely think younger people who have grown up using social media are often more aware of its impact. I often find that it’s older folks (40s up) who don’t know ‘online etiquette’.

      • BellyJean December 6, 2017, 9:16 am


    • BellyJean December 6, 2017, 9:15 am

      Thank you for posting, JD. That is a sad, but sweet story.

  • staceyizme December 5, 2017, 12:48 pm

    I agree that social media is often conflated with news or other media- which produces the unfortunate consequence of an expectation of “instantaneous” updates on everything about which one may be curious. Our news feeds are personalized in this digital age and our social media feeds are, as well, with Meetup, Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Pinterest and other sites encouraging us to expect that we can shape the flow of information to suit our own needs and preferences. Absolutely NONE of which excuses the jaw-dropping insensitivity and self-centered perspective of those who inappropriately inquire about the relationships, illnesses and misfortunes of others under the guise of interested sympathy. Sometimes it’s a good idea to “move” the question into the real world and see how it really appears before pressing “send” in the digital world. Much trouble might be avoided that way…

  • Princess Buttercup December 5, 2017, 1:12 pm

    Ahh the gossip mongers. It’s the same reason why people slow down and stare at a car accident. They want to be the first with the juicy news. It’s disgusting and I’m glad you are quick to shut down the inappropriate talk.

  • Devin December 5, 2017, 1:59 pm

    I think a lot of neighborhoods do this now. If you are luckily to live in a small, close knit neighborhood, I can see how these posts can feel invasive. My large, urban neighborhood has a page and the common feeling is if it’s on the police blotter/scanner it’s public knowledge. I found out via this page that the building next to mine was on fire while I was at work and firefighters were trying to clear my building because of smoke. Our landlord was on vacation and the upstairs neighbors don’t have my work number, so this was my notification. I was able to call my landlord and he notified the one tenant who was at home to let the firemen know the building was clear. Saved me from having my front door kicked in. Luckily it was just some mild smoke damage to our building.

  • jokergirl129 December 5, 2017, 3:42 pm

    Yeah this is the sort of thing that is both good and bad. On one hand it is a way for the neighborhood to keep in contact with each other and it can be nice seeing everyone being concern and looking out for one another. Plus with everyone being in contact like this it can make it easier to offer help and organize what people can do to make things easier on the person/family that is in trouble. But on the other hand you get people asking questions, revealing private information and not giving the family time to process what is happening/grieve in peace when something serious like a death happens. It can feel invasive and like everyone just wants the juicy details of what happened (even if the majority only want to know what is going on because they genuinely care and are worried about what is happening).

    It’s one of the down sides with being connected so closely online and getting information so fast. People want to know what is happening instantly, info can be incorrect if reported on too soon which can cause it’s own problems, and like I mention earlier the people directly involved can get bombarded with messages/questions while they are still trying to deal with the situations at hand and are in no condition to deal with that extra stress. It’s not easy but honestly the most the OP can do is try to keep on top of things to control the situation online as much as possible when this sort of thing happened and make any changes that are needed if things get worse and not better in terms of what info is being passed along and how people are acting concerning it.

  • Molly December 5, 2017, 4:53 pm

    This is a church event? How about “what would Jesus do?” Give the woman a break. Maybe she is new and feeling awkward being given a job to collect money. Maybe she’s got social anxiety and being involved in the dinner is stressful but she’s trying her best. Maybe her dog just died and she’s barely holding it together. I’d give her the benefit of the doubt and decide not to choose to be offended.

    • jokergirl129 December 6, 2017, 12:00 pm

      I think you meant to post this comment on the “Church Christmas Potluck Dinner Payout” story. This story is about something completely different.

  • Tanya December 5, 2017, 5:11 pm

    This kind of thing reminds me of something that happened in my country years ago, pre-social media; I can’t quite remember all the details of what happened, but as I recall an older woman had reached an international competition in a sport we’re not usually well represented in. She’d become a bit of a mini celebrity as a result of that. When she was overseas about to compete in this widely respected event, either her child or grandchild died suddenly (I don’t remember which). The family asked the media not to report the death; they hadn’t told the woman as they didn’t want to botch her chances in the competition (I think she was due to compete within a short time frame of the death; the family just wanted to give her space to compete without that knowledge and grief on her mind). Most outlets complied but one large newspaper splashed it all over the front page – and yes, she saw it before competing.

    I think some people just don’t *think*.

  • InTheEther December 6, 2017, 1:21 am

    It isn’t just social media. I work front desk at a hospital, and for bonus points its in a small town.

    I swear, a lot of people seem to be in just desperate need of a hobby, other than treating other people’s business like a soap opera. There are a lot of calls with people wanting to know if so-and-so is in the hospital (honestly, just that isn’t really an issue), and why are they in, and what is their condition, ect. As if sharing any of that isn’t a HUGE HIPPA violation that will get my but fired. All I can say is whether someone is registered or not, and if they request we not share that then you get to know nothing. I can’t even tell you your own medical information over the phone since I have no way to verify you’re you.

    Almost more annoying is all the people who SWARM the ER lobby if they hear someone’s there through the grapevine. I’m not talking about a case where, say, grandpa had a stroke and all the kids and grandkids come. By all means, in the case of tragedy let the nearest and dearest come and support each other. But the majority of ER visits aren’t actual emergencies (at MY hospital). If uncle Jo let his blood sugar get a bit hi for the 3rd time this month or little Timmy twisted his ankle then maybe the 2nd cousin’s girlfriend doesn’t need to show up and camp out for 3 hours. We have literally had people (15+ in a pretty tiny ER lobby) crowding in before the person even gets to the hospital, and they’ll treat it like a social occasion, camping out and getting food brought, and everyone has to go back and hear what’s happening, and again asking me when I don’t even know since I’m just the admissions clerk and I couldn’t say even if I did know. Actual patients wind up having to sit in the main lobby, and worst they ALL want to go back and be in the room with the PT so they can hear everything. Our ER rooms have maybe 40sqft of free floor space around the beds and we have to limit the visitors to just 2 (or 1 or 0 if the patient is actually doing badly) as otherwise the staff can’t really get in to treat them. I tell everybody this, and the ER doors are actually autolocked with me having to press a button to unlock it and let people in. But then people start letting each other in (there’s an unlocking button on the ER side so they can leave), holding the door open or rushing before it closes when staff go in or out. And at least based on the conversations held about 2 ft in front of my window, this is because they just HAVE to hear what the Dr. says in person.

    That last part got a bit ranty, but part of my job is essentially to be the door guardian and try to enforce that 2 person maximum. My coworker’s understand for the most part, especially as people are obviously letting each other in while I’m actually back in the ER taking care of paperwork, but it still makes me look bad and supremely annoys the DR. Seriously, you can wait till after discharge to hear what the Dr. said. You don’t have to be IN the room to hear it first person, especially if you can’t explain your relationship to the patient in four words or less.

    • NostalgicGal December 6, 2017, 7:55 am

      If I’m in the ER and at all cognizant the only body I want to see in there other than the medical staff is my spouse. Period. I will yell for you to be hoofed. (I live in a small town, very rural, and we are the medical response for up to two hours around us, so I know of what you speak). We do have two ER rooms and the main one is big enough for two beds and a lot of space, but still. OUT is a concept that they do enforce. There is no autolock on the treatment room doors, just the ambulance door from outside. A good deal of the time that is open… I have walked through there more than once to get treatment (there is a buzzer that sounds at the nurse’s station if someone does come in those doors). If they are locked you do have to buzz with the call button. Still, most of the time I go into the ER able to respond and interact and I will ask for someone to be removed if needed. And they will oblige.

  • Pat December 6, 2017, 10:52 am

    I’ve unfollowed a lot of people lately and at times the situation is reversed. Sometimes the involved people post things that should not be made public. Someone I know posted a video of their dying family member in the hospital – this person was literally on their deathbed. I felt like I was invading that person’s privacy during the few seconds before I hid the post. Unfollowed that person.