Every day, hospitals are fields of frustrating sadness, minutes of genuine joy, hours of anxious expectation and deep doubt about the road ahead. When you stroll into the main gates of a hospital, none of the grasping dramas that are unfolding within are obvious. You see individuals in electric motorized wheel chairs awaiting trips, volunteers guiding lost individuals to the correct side and employees talking as they wait for coffee.
But like any hospital, go a little further and you will be confused by experiences of human tragedy and triumph, pain and discomfort, hope and even happiness. The individuals who work there have devoted their careers to helping others and offering the best proper care possible. The sufferers who are resting in mattresses and close relatives and friends who sit at their bedsides don’t want to be there, for the most part. Some are making an effort to recover and leave, while others are too sick or weak and have nowhere else to go. Every day is a fight, whether you are a health-care employee or patient. And it’s easy to forget once you escape to the bigger world outside.
Hospitals are not generally fun places to be. They are, as one physician advised me, where sick individuals hang out. Many surfaces have an unmistakable, yet somehow unidentifiable, distressing scent. If you are a patient, you may have to share a room with a perfect stranger who keeps you up all night moaning in discomfort. Front line health-care employees do the best they can with restricted resources, aging facilities and less-than-ideal operating circumstances. But it’s obvious there are methods we can also do better. Finding the way forward, that is the challenge.