PostHeaderIcon HOSPITALS


Whatever has happened to our hospitals? Once upon a time, the welfare of the patient was the important theme; now it appears that the welfare of the hospital is more important. Or so it appeared to me recently during a stint in a well known, large, private hospital.

I was in pain, so it was suggested that I be admitted to hospital, ‘where you will be looked after...’ I just don’t know about that. It was the hospital ‘rules’ that beat me.

I was accustomed to having a heated wheat pack on the calves of my legs to alleviate the pain. It was the only thing that worked. I even brought my own wheat pack. But no! Ant sort of heating is not allowed...the hospital does not want to be sued if someone suffers a burn from an overheated pack.

I was put on an opium derivative for any pain. This nasty little drug has awful side effects, such as loss of appetite and severe constipation that one is not forewarned about. Surely one should be given high fibre foods or even an aperient before the constipation becomes serious?

Hospital food that is brought in from an outside source leaves much to be desired. That dried egg is dreadful. On asking for a poached or boiled egg, the answer is... ‘ no whole eggs are allowed. The hospital does not want to be sued for listeria.’ So the dried egg goes uneaten and the patient who has already lost his appetite because of the opioid, tries his luck with the porridge, which is not too bad.

You find yourself hospitalised for a month. Your hair looks most unkempt. Is there a hairdresser available? Surely...this is a private hospital after all...but no, there is not. What about a podiatrist, as my toenails need attention. No, not at this hospital.

Well, can someone cut my long fingernails please? (I did not bring implements with me.) No, we do not do that here. Well, could you bring me some nail scissors, and I shall attempt to cut them myself? We do not have anything like that.

The house doctor took me off a medication that I had been taking for thirty years, proscribed by an eminent professor of medicine who knows his craft. A battle ensued I can tell you! I was forced to steal and hide the necessary tablets until a specialist rightly decided in my favour. I requested a change of house doctor.

I had lost seven kilos in weight and was depressed. I was advised, on the quiet, to get off the painkillers as soon as I could, and to ‘get out of here’ pronto. My son and grand-daughter came to the rescue, hoisting me onto a wheelchair and wheeling me out to their car, paying my account on the way, the relieving doctor protesting that he didn’t think I should be leaving care.

I live alone and was really not up to looking after myself. They hated leaving me, but my neighbours kept an eye on me, and I have gradually recovered to a large extent.

I have been told that not all hospitals have the same catering arrangements as the one that I encountered. Some arrange for the cafeteria in the same building to supply food to the patients. Poached eggs can be obtained, for example, and any resulting illness would be the liability of the cafeteria. I endorse this system!