H is for… Hospital!

Jul 25, 2017 | 1 comment

When you spend as much time in the hospital – especially the same hospital and in the same unit – as Nyel has this year, you begin to make friends with some of the staff.   Once in a while, you get a little glimpse of life on the other side of the hospital bed, so to speak… as in this story that happened shortly before we arrived last week:

It seems there was a guy in another unit (had a broken leg or two and an eyepatch) who commandeered a wheelchair and speed-raced to a nearby convenience store.  There, he bought an ‘adult beverage’ and concealed it in a paper bag, and proceeded to drink it on his leisurely return to his room.  Another convenience store customer (who happened to be a hospital employee) saw and reported the episode…  Busted!  Immediate discharge.

I’ve always thought that those scenes in the movies where old guys unplug their IVs and sneak out in a load of laundry (“The Bucket List” with Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman comes to mind) were just figments of the silver screen.  Not so, apparently!  And those aren’t the worst transgressions.  There’s also the matter of civility and just plain good manners.

A day or so ago, when one of our nurses learned that I am a writer, she told me about a project she was working on – a little three-fold brochure for incoming patients.  “Basically,” she said, “it points out that this is not a hotel, nor is it a prison.  It gives patients a little idea of what to expect while they are here and a few guidelines for how to behave.”  I was amazed and all ears.  I had no idea that people would need ‘instructions’ on hospital etiquette.  And I had no idea that the need has seriously escalated in the last two years.  Here, like in every other public venue, people seem to feel empowered to show their ugly sides.

“Would you be willing to read our first draft?”  Absolutely! I was pleasantly surprised and pleased at the patient-friendly, cleverly illustrated leaflet I was shown.  It reminded patients, directly and kindly, about all manner of hospital do’s and don’ts from the ‘no smoking campus’ to the possible necessity for dietary restrictions.  It described the special services that could be accessed and how to call for help – even reminding people that the use of profanity or racist comments is not acceptable.  I found it well-written (one typo only!) informative, and totally inoffensive.

Yet, I was saddened that basic public etiquette has to be written out these days.  Especially for those whose lives may depend upon being here.  No wonder staff members, from pharmacists to housekeepers, tell Nyel what a pleasure it is to deal with him.  We had no idea!

1 Comment

  1. Stephanie Frieze

    I can believe that Nyel is a good patient and that others are not. When I worked at the library in Fremont people gave new meaning to the term “public servant.”


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