Hospital Care vol.2

So, the mad festive period is well and truly over. I will never want to do the same again – spending the festivities in and around hospital… It’s depressing, no matter what they do to cheer up the patients. There was a carol service on the Christmas day, singing the all-time favorite carols. How nice! — yeah right. There are many people whose lives have completely changed after falling ill. The visits to hospital makes me believe that it is at least partly due to their experiences in hospital.
 
What bogs me is that there are so many things they do  that seem not quite for the patients’ interest. Looking at the medical file of my friend, I can see they prescribe him with aspirin every morning, together with some irregular prescriptions of other drugs. None of them is related to a treatment for stroke, and yet my friend is not in pain or anything. So where’s the need for all these tablets? On top of that, there hasn’t been a proper diagnosis made yet, so the nurses are giving him something not knowing what else to do, but still not in the patient’s best interest. Am I wrong?
 
There are things in the hospital that make me ‘think.’ There’s a warning sign on the lift door;
 
Warning: Trip hazard – lift may not stop level with floor
 
In Japan, perhaps "Watch your finger" is the common warning you see in this context… There, it rarely happens that a lift stops not level with the floor. That would be a faulty lift, and put to maintenance immediately.
 
Have you paid your maintenance contractor?
 
Ok, to be fair, machines never work properly in this country. There are millions of ticket venders at London bus stops that swallow your money and gives you no ticket. Tube stations always stop one or two flights of escalators for men in hard hats. Even traffic lights sometimes go on strike. But please, do use properly functioning lifts in hospitals… it’s important.
 
There are some efforts I noticed they do things for the patients. Like bed-side personal entertainment console, for example. It comes with radio, television, and telephone that provides the patient with his personal phone number. So now, his loved ones, relatives, friends, all can call him directly. Wonderful!
 
But once you’re out of the ward, walking through the corridor, you notice the hospital’s conspiratorial intention behind that console. You see tin boxes fixed on the wall, here and there, looking like an old-fashioned cigarrettes venders in a dark smokey corner of a local pub. But this is no cigarrettes vender, it sells;
 
Bedside TV & phone – the ideal gift
 
an encircled photograph of a young black girl in hospital bed, smile-smitten face pushed against the phone receiver, looking at the console screen, is set underneath the title line, inspiring the visitors how happy their loved ones may become for this little rectangular plastic card. If that’s not pathetic enough, the prices are extortionary. 50p per minute of phone call, and 20 pounds to view television for 7 days, or 10 pounds for 3 days. Mind you, there is no Sky TV or BBC Three. Just ordinary analog channels. You get it free at home (if you’re a deviant citizen who doesn’t give a monky about TV licence, that is). Britain has enjoyed free medical service since the inaugulation of the NHS in mid twentieth century, but hospitals are not just sitting there all giving and take nothing. They are thinking of ways to make visitors, if not patients, pay! Other ways of paying money along a visit include car parking (6 pounds for 5 hours) and numbers of private retailers (ranging from flower shop, WHSmith, Boots, Cafe Bistro to Burger King (!), they welcome you at the entrance of Southampton University Hospital).
 
It was already a several years ago when having a MacDonald’s on the hospital site stirred up a nation-wide debate, and now obesity has become the top killer of the nation. There is no confusion about the controversy in having fastfood shop at hospitals. Surprising, in a way, this practice hasn’t changed. These are good enough evidence of the money being the drive of hospital management. Shouldn’t that be patients and their betterment? Profit-seeking market economy doesn’t cure even the slightest of illness. (Well, apart from good old RETAIL THERAPY, of course…)
 
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About Dr Kats

a working sociologist/linguist/translator based in Odawara, Japan
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