Twas the (Real) Night Before Surgery: An Ode to Christmas in Sterile Processing

“Twas the night before surgery, when all through decon,

Not a case cart was waiting, all the surgeons were gone;

The scopes were all hung in their cabinets with care,

In hopes that surveyors might smile on them there;

The trays were nestled all snug on the shelves;

Put there by third shift, the SPD elves;

Jill in her scrub hat, and I in my cover,

Had just settled down for a break room recover,

When out on the floor there arose such a clatter,

We sprang from our chairs to see what was the matter.

Away back to decon I flew like a flash,

Threw open the door and knocked over the trash.

The glare of fluorescence looked like new-fallen snow,

And gave a stainless-reflection on the objects below,

When what to my wondering eyes did appear,

But a full set of loaners with a case time so near,

With a little old sales rep so lively and quick,

I knew in a moment he must be Rep. Nick.

More rapid than eagles his excuses they came, 

And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name:

“Now, Late Booking! now, Last Minute! now No Trays and We Tried! On, Courier Forgot! on, No One Told Me The Time!”

To the edge of the sink! to the top of the washer!

Now wash away! wash away! wash away faster!

As chaff that before a wild hurricane fly,

We heard all the reasons for his late delivery ‘cept why;

Out of the department the sales rep he flew

With all of these trays, old Rep. Nick he knew—

There wasn’t a twinkling, an inkling of chance

That we’d have these sets ready for the case in advance.

As I drew in my head, and was turning around,

Now on the clean side Rep. Nick came with a bound.

He was dressed all in scrubs, from his neck to his feet,

But his scrubs were stamped with the hospital name down the street;

Another bundle of trays he had there in his hands,

With stacks of new implants wrapped in rubber bands.

His eyes—how they twinkled! his dimples, how merry!

His cheeks were like roses, his red bouffant like a cherry!

His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,

And his beard cover was as white as the snow;

The stick of some Trident he held tight in his teeth,

And the smell of peppermint encircled his head like a wreath;

He had a broad face and a little round belly

That shook when he laughed, like a bowl full of jelly.

He was chubby and plump, a jolly old sales rep,

But I watched him to ensure he did not skip a step.

A wink of his eye and a twist of his head

Soon tried to tell me I had nothing to dread;

He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,

And filled all the Synthes; then turned with a jerk,

And laying his finger aside of his nose,

Gave us a nod, as out the department he goes;

He glanced at his cell phone, and then threw back a “Thanks,”

As he hurried home for the holidays leaving us in the tank.

But I heard him exclaim, ere he walked out of sight—

“Merry Christmas you guys, and have a great night!”

Written by Hank Balch © 2022.

To all those working hard this holiday season, we see you! Thanks for what you do today, and every day.

Love, the Beyond Clean team!



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