If you take pride in what you do, everyone will be better off. Do all you can to make sure you don't hurt others, intentionally or unintentionally. There's a right way and a wrong way. If all else fails, try following directions.
So goes the mindset of 72-year-old Ivan Fankuchen, a Marine Corps veteran.
The father of three, Fankuchen owned a uniform shop in Arizona before retiring to Las Vegas. He was a successful small-businessman, he says, because he provided quality at a fair price. He's convinced cops and firefighters and medical practitioners who wore his products as they should be worn - clean and pressed - acted more professionally because they looked professional.
If he promised a product would be in tomorrow, it was in tomorrow. If he gave his word, he says he had to make good on it, come hell or high water.
He lives in Summerlin, in a development where it appears that every day the greenery receives a trim.
Unlike many seniors, he wouldn't feel put upon by an extra driving test for those, say, 70 or older. He knows statistics show that for drivers 70 and older the number of crashes per miles driven jumps significantly toward the level of teens, the most dangerous drivers on the road.
He believes a driving test could spot problems that can come with advanced age that aren't caught in a routine physical.
"We have to look out for each other for this country to really work," Fankuchen says.
Given his background and perspective and what he says happened during a recent four-day stay that ended abruptly at Summerlin Hospital, it should come as no surprise that he let administrators know he was unhappy both in person and by letter.
He was in the hospital for a bowel obstruction. A tube was stuck down his throat for much of his stay, so he could not talk.
When he was finally able, he said he told staff he no longer wanted to stay in a room where: ants made their home; dirt was on the floor and built up in corners; it took three days for staff to empty the portable commode he had to temporarily use; the sink and permanent commode were never cleaned; the garbage can was not emptied for three days; the rolling table he received food on had a sticky substance under the lip; and the base of that table had food stuck to it.
"I was told by one nurse who wanted to move me to the new wing of the hospital that the reason things were so dirty is that I was in the old wing," Fankuchen recalled. The "old" wing opened in 1997.
"I didn't want to hear that," the grandfather of three added. "There's no excuse for any part of the hospital being like that. They should have pride. They know that's not right. A hospital is supposed to be clean. It was a breeding ground for infection."
Fankuchen was so concerned about the lack of cleanliness and possible infection that he called his personal doctor and got him to discharge him from the hospital on Aug. 19, days earlier than planned.
Claude Wise, the hospital's chief operating officer, was contacted by Fankuchen, who said Wise gave him an apology. I called Wise but he did not return my call.
I did, however, receive an email from Lori Harris, the hospital's marketing director.
"We are sorry this patient did not feel we met his expectations," she wrote. "We encourage our patients and visitors to contact any employee so we can immediately address their concerns. We are committed to providing a safe, clean environment for all of our patients at all times."
In his letter to Wise, Fankuchen, who stressed he received compassionate care from several nurses, wrote:
"Three RNs on my floor (who) asked their names not be mentioned said to me in part - 'I am so glad that you are taking action to clean this place up.' "
Paul Harasim is the medical reporter for the Las Vegas Review-Journal. His column appears Mondays. Harasim can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-387-2908.