Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Proof Hospitals Are Not Good For People

There are oh-so-many things about the hospital that prove to me that no one actually considered the patients who would stay there when the hospital was built:

  • The temperature in this place fluctuates dramatically. The cafeteria is usually 20 degrees colder than the rest of the building; it's actually an immediately noticeable change. By the time I finish a meal, I'm usually shivering, and my fingernails are blue. Some rooms are 80 degrees or warmer, which makes me wonder how we're supposed to know if our patient is having a fever, or are just under too many blankets. I believe that these constant changes of climate contribute to the easy distribution of viral illness amongst the medical teams, which in one case last month led to a third year med student contracting viral meningitis.
  • The cafeteria accepts cash and credit cards, but last month instituted a $4 minimum for credit card purchases. Since the average breakfast costs $3.50, this led to many people a) frequenting the conveniently-located ATM, which charges $2 per transaction or b) adding extra food to their tray to push their total over that magic number 4. It also led to me swearing while dumping all my change out of a tiny change purse so as to avoid receiving 86 cents in change, multiple times, while the line behind me sighed and cursed.
  • The main parking garage for this particular hospital is connected to the building via a long walkway, which is nice. What is weird is that you enter the hospital through the second floor of the garage building, but the first floor of the hospital. The end result is that I encounter at least two arguing families per shift who try to head to the garage via the second floor of the hospital, which takes you through OR-land and is actually impossible anyway.
  • Many hospitals were built in stages. We have a building from the 1920's (C), a building from the 1950's (B), one from the 1970's (A), and one from the 1990's (D), and a new building is going up outside. The problem here is that building codes were obviously dramatically different in 1920, so all these different buildings, which were connected to each other, have different ceiling heights. There is a hallway where you literally walk from the 5th floor of the newer A building into the 6th floor of the older B building without encountering any stairs. This also means that the 4th floor of the B building dead ends at an odd little stairwell which you must climb to reach the A building. It's very confusing.
  • The really old C building from the 1920's has a room-numbering system that was obviously done by an imaginative 4-year old. You can walk from room 5.01 to room 5.33 then to 5.27, and they are contiguous rooms on one hallway. As a result, when I have patients in the C building, it takes me at least 20 minutes to locate their room, because I literally have to check every room to figure out where the right one is.
  • The hospital is kind enough to have dispensers of hand sanitizers located outside every patient's room, down the hallways, in the cafeteria, and indeed anywhere the wall stayed still long enough to attach a dispenser. I continue to carry a small bottle on my white coat, looped through a button hole. Why? Because the handles of said dispensers are coated in brown gunk. Hello, people, hand sanitizer is for CLEAN HANDS, not for visibly dirty ones! I don't care how sanitary the brown gunk is, it frightens me.
  • The cafeteria food continues to be greasy and overpriced. Baked Lays are the most difficult chips to find, but you can get pork rinds at any time. Astonishingly, my hospital is one of the few not to have a McDonald's or any other fast food chain located inside, but we do have two Starbucks kiosks (or we will, once they finish remodeling the bigger, nicer one). As much as I hate Mickey D's, at least they don't have a friggin' $4 minimum.

Thank god our cafeteria makes excellent iced tea in large quantities (unlike the cafeteria at [county hospital], where the tea was undrinkable sludge), or my time here would be totally wasted.

And with that, my last call for internal medicine ends, and my last day of this rotation also ends. Exam is on Friday, and then I'm on to family practice, aka "a whole month with actual weekends and no call."


Maggie said...

Good luck for the exam - or should I say Break a leg?

My father is currently in hospital, and me, husband and my Mum (following our example) seem to be the only ones to use the alcohol hand rub stuff.

Transpires he has MRSA in nose and throat, on anti-biotics. I don't want to take infection in to him, and I don't want to take infection away from him. Seems other friends, relations, visitors can't be bothered. Though to be honest the hand rub stuff isn't really flagged up very well - I was looking for it, and still it was hard to find.

Tiny Surgeon said...

Sadly, it's the doctors in the hospital who are least likely to wash their hands...

The Peanut Gallery said...

Our hospital is the same way about the buildings being connected to each other at different floors. It is ridiculously confusing. I still get lost.