Two thoughts about hospitals

October 2, 2010

Today, I was at St. Michael’s hospital in Newark, NJ, visiting Kevin’s grandma who’d just had knee surgery. His grandparents and family are just incredibly warm and loving people who treated me like one of their own when I was staying at his place over the summer while waiting for my passport. I got them a pair of silver Arabic candleholders from Oman. Of course, I’d have preferred to give it to them in better circumstances but I’m glad I got to see them today at least. It’s folks like them that make me love humanity so.

St. Michael’s is a labyrinth. The ground floor is floor 2 and getting off at floor 1 was a mistake. So I followed exit signs that led to alarmed fire doors. Couldn’t leave without setting off alarms so I wandered through the deserted bowels of the hospital for a time before finally finding my way out.

While wandering, I got to thinking about two things that Kevin’s granddad had said. Apparently Medicare only covers one ophthalmologist appointment a day. You can get one eye looked at but not the other at any given time. Want both eyes looked at? Make two appointments, each on separate days. Such a niggling inconvenience. Also, the hospital has visiting hours until 8 pm. There’s no announcement that tells you this so while you can’t enter, you can leave. No one will come by to kick you out so even though it’s, strictly speaking, not allowed to spend the night, you may. The woman in the next bed’s daughter ended up staying the night which seemed to me a great blessing for her and her sick mother. Such a lovely, humane thing in the middle of all this bureaucratic madness, to not be asked to leave.

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