Building hospital care!
By Bette Dewing

So how was your hospital experience? Hope you didn’t have one, but if so, you likely received a hospital questionnaire posing that question. Mine is filled out with my often out-of-the-box thoughts on how the experience could be better — much better. Stay tuned.

Ask the Patients

I also think patients should be consulted about Lenox Hill Hospital’s massive renovation plans. Those who live in the neighborhood will surely object to the sky-high physical expansion, and astute patients in general might say the expansion needed is the number of on-hands medical care — doctors, nurses and aides. Now, they report, you may wait for hours between any such in-person visits, and isolation is very unhealthy.

And while the hospital’s plan to shift to single rooms surely has merit — to be “family-centric” they explain, and no noisy roommates to impede the healing. Ah, but family need should always be stressed, regardless of room size, when it exists along with the need for quiet rooms.

As for expanding hospital empathy, all medical personnel need lessons from Dr. Sarah Flannery, who said on my recent visit to Lenox Hill Hospital, “I am really sorry this accident happened to you.” Ah, and expand empathetic and compassionate response teaching not only in medical schools, but in every school, starting from pre-K on out. So many societal ills would be prevented. And don’t we need that.

Change The Lights

And this former patient would love to see Lenox Hill and all medical places have sunny-colored rooms and hallways. Forget all that white white. And no super-bright lights except in operating rooms. Ah, incandescent light is surely the healthiest kind, but let the energy-efficients they’re obliged to use be the warm-white, not the cold-white kind. Ironically, policymakers have not done their homework on LED lights, which can interfere with sleep cycles and do visual as well as other potential physical harm.

Speaking of things which shouldn’t have been invented — do a search. A search also finds it’s not simplistic for infinitely more smiling, not only in hospitals. Smiling is contagious — and it makes us feel better as well as look better — can’t say that too often.

What else do hospitals need? Well for the growing elder population — personnel who speak loudly and distinctly enough. Is that too much to ask, or to be stressed in medical schools what with an aging population and patients whose English is not proficient?

Ah, and it surely helps the quality of care if patients commend exceptionally caring hospital personnel. I did that, but unfortunately did not report a disrespectful aide; a potential problem with all personnel in need of more discussion and reporting.

How About a Chapel?

Oh, and volunteers couldn’t be more needed, especially for patients without family or other caring people around. More attention must be paid for the care patients need later at home, not only the “hired help” but the community and the neighborly kind. So in need of a mighty revival is Hubert Humphrey’s great belief that “The impersonal hand of government can never replace the caring hand and of a neighbor,” if enough Include it in Easter and Passover sermons and prayers.

And how could I forget — the hospital sure needs a chapel, yes. even for non-believers who need a serene and quiet place to rest and yes, to meditate. Meditation also needs a great revival to prevent illness and expand the caring. Expand the caring — that’s what we need most. And it can be done if enough of us try ... if enough of us try ...