What I hate about hospitals

This isn’t an anti-hospital rant. Between QB’s bone marrow transplant,  giving birth to two babies and dealing with Lil Z’s myriad issues, I’ve spent a good deal of time in hospitals in the past 10 years. And for the most part, I’m pleased to report that I’ve had positive experiences. Anyone who has spoken to me in the past year knows that I consistently rave about the Royal Children’s Hospital in Brisbane and the care that Lil Z has received there. But that’s another post.

Having spent a good deal of time in hospitals, I’ve also realised there are a few things that get under my skin. And they’re not unique to Australia – they seem to be universal annoyances. So, here are my top three:

1. Its their time, in their own time. Before you think I’m completely unreasonable, let me say that I know that hospitals see hundreds, if not thousands, of children every day and they couldn’t be expected to schedule things around my life. But…

Lil Z has a lot of appointments at the hospital. All her doctors are based there, all her assessments and tests are done there. So, we spend a lot of time there. Time that is always of their choosing. Time, that can initially appear to be a quick appointment and end up as a half day of waiting around. Work, other commitments, life be damned.

It drives me crazy that having a hospital appointment means you can’t plan anything else that day. And that can be difficult to manage when you are trying to balance work and Lil Z’s constant diary of appointments.

Take today for example. I work on Tuesdays. It just so happens that is also the day Lil Z’s neurologist (a woman I love and wouldn’t trade for all the world) holds her private patient surgery. So, Lil Z and I arrive at the hospital this morning, to be told the doctor is running “very late”. To their credit, they gave me a pager and sent us off for morning tea and a walk in the sunshine. But it’s still an extra 45 minutes when I should be at work, but am instead reading my Blackberry in the hospital cafe. We see the Neuro and she decides she wants a blood test and she’s going to change Lil Z’s meds. Cue another wait to see the phlebotomist and an even longer wait at the hospital pharmacy for the meds. So, what was meant to be a simple appointment ended up costing me over half my working day. And we’ve got at least two more similar appointments this month alone.

2. The food. Having spent a good deal of time lurking around the hospital today, leads me on to the next issue – the terrible food. I’m not talking about the food they serve to patients – that is no doubt bland on purpose and lukewarm because it had to travel 5 miles by trolley to arrive on the ward. If you’re healthy enough to complain about the food, you’re healthy enough to go home (although I know QB, who spent a long time in hospital – most of it complaining about the food – would certainly disagree).

Two sausage rolls on a plate

Two sausage rolls on a plate (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’m talking about the food in the cafes and cafeterias at the hospital. They’re awful. And they all serve nothing but chips and burgers and sausage rolls. There is usually a nod to salads, often in the shape of some browning lettuce leaves, giant, cottony tomatoes and a half-dehydrated cucumber slice. And there are perhaps a few pre-packaged sandwiches where the bread has turned to soggy slime. Is it really so hard to provide a few basic meal options that are enjoyable to eat?

As a breastfeeding mother, when I stayed on the ward with Lil Z, I was provided with hospital meals. Some were better than others. Now that we’ve stopped breastfeeding, I have to get my own meals from the hospital cafe, and the selection is shocking. Thank heavens for QB and his care packages (which generally include a bag of licorice allsorts).

Today I got a chocolate chip cookie with my coffee. The package said that it was best before May 2013. May 2013?! Enough said.

3. Parking. Although the timing and the food often niggles at me, it’s the parking that really gets to me. And it seems to be a universal issue. Hospital parking, around the world is always extortionate. I wouldn’t worry about it too much if the parking fees were going to the hospital, but I’m not convinced that they are.

And despite the high cost of parking, it’s also usually extremely inconvenient. I remember going to a prenatal class at the Queen Charlotte in London and the main concern of expectant mothers and fathers alike was parking. Here in Brisbane, the Royal Children’s Hospital has a large parking structure, which almost always has space. However, if you arrive at the hospital after 7am, that space is usually on the 6th or 7th floor. And there is only one lift. That fits only one pram or wheelchair at a time. In a children’s hospital.

I’m not expecting to change anything with this post, only to have a little rant to make myself feel better after a long and frustrating day at the hospital. However, perhaps there is a hospital planner out there who will take inspiration. Perhaps one day there will be a children’s hospital with flexible scheduling, free parking and a Gordon Ramsay cafe in the lobby. Well, a girl can dream…

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One response to “What I hate about hospitals

  1. I think I should leave this anonymously – but when QB had to patronise the Leukaemia hosp. a second time with an infection, he said the food wasn’t that bad after all – for the Leukaemia patients. The food in the public cafeteria I presume was leftovers from the path lab…..

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