Hospital Aesthetics

Hospitals. Every one reading this has probably visited a hospital at least once, either as a patient or as a visitor. Most of the hospitals I’ve visited were completely lacking any sort of beauty, grace, or harmony. The only excption to this is the hospital chapel.

I spent a day in the hospital this week, as an out-patient. This means I did not stay over night; I was treated during the day and then I was sent home. The hospital where I was treated was a new facility. I had been treated at the old facility (before the new one was constructed), and what a difference a building can make! All I can say is that my experience this week at the hospital was one of the most pleasant experiences I’ve had all week.

Here’s what made it great:

The old treatment center was in the basement of the hospital. There was no natural light. It felt like being in a dungeon.

The new facility is all about light. The architect did a great job of creating floor-to-ceiling windows that allow patients and their visitors to relax and take in the views of the Sandia Mountains and the abundant blue skies that surround us.

The lab where I used to have my blood drawn was in a room that was probably intended to be a janitor’s closet. It was located in the middle of the room, near the patient waiting area. Because of the close proximity to the waiting area, there was no privacy. Everyone could hear everyone’s business. To have your blood drawn, you had to write your name, your physician’s name, and the current time in a binder that was resting on the half-door of the lab. The lab was outfitted with two measly blood drawing stations that were directly across from one another. This meant that when you got your blood drawn, you had to watch the other person having their blood drawn. It was a tight space; there was no where else to look. Have I mentioned that I can’t stand the sight of blood?

The lab in the new building is gigantic. And they hired a person to sit at the front desk. No more writing your personal information in a binder. Now, you hand the woman your paperwork and she submits the request in the hospital’s online patient management software. And then the request is routed to the people who work in the lab. It’s very professional and efficient. Inside the lab area, there are about 10 lab drawing stations. And they are staggered across from one another, with a curtain that you can close for privacy.

After my appointments in the old facility, I always felt the need to take a shower or use a lot of hand sanitizer. The furniture in the waiting areas was filthy and covered with blood stains, coffee stains, and Lord knows what else. It was outright gross. Also, the chairs didn’t match. It was as if someone grabbed all the random chairs they could find, arranged them in a square, and created a “seating area.”

The furniture in the new hospital is comfortable, color coordinated, and modern. And it’s clean, too. The hospital’s cleaning staff actually wipe down the empty furniture after it is used.

Patient Treatment Suite
At the old facility, patients sat in a circle while receiving their treatment. It was awkward. My treatment takes about 8 hours from start to finish, so this meant I had to watch the patient(s) who sat across from me all day long. I’ve never felt so trapped in all my life. In the old hospital, when a doctor or nurse talked to a patient about their chemotherapy, everyone could hear every detail. I always felt like I was eavesdropping on the near-by patients.

In the new patient treatment suite, patients don’t sit in a circle. Instead, the patients sit away from one another, facing the floor-to-ceiling windows which provide lovely vistas of the mountains and sky. And if you desire extra privacy, there is a curtain you can close to create a private space. It’s interesting because I would have drawn the curtain around me in a heartbeat at the old facility, but in the new one, I enjoyed the openness coupled with plenty of personal space.

The restroom in the old facility was a one-stall, unisex bathroom. And it was very near the place where the patients sat. Every time a patient became sick to his stomach from the chemotherapy, the patient would vomit in the restroom, and all the other patients were left to listen to the unpleasant noises. I am a chain reaction thrower-upper. If I hear or see someone throw up, this triggers my gag reflex and I’m suddenly throwing up, too. It’s horrible.

The restrooms (yes, there are multiple restrooms!) in the new hospital are situated at each end of the treatment room. And there’s a mens’ restroom and a separate womens’ restroom. I like it this way. The restrooms are spacious. If you need a nurse or family member to accompany you to the bathroom, there’s plenty of room. Or, if you can make it on your own, it’s easy to roll the I.V. machine in with you.

While patients underwent chemotherapy, the old hospital had a musician sit in the inner circle of the patient seating area and play for us. Normally, it was a cello player. It was nice, unless you preferred to receive your treatment in silence, or if you preferred to sleep.

The new hospital has free wifi for its patients and family members. And each patient treatment areas has a countertop with numerous electrical outlets to plug in your MacBook, iPhone, etc. Additionally, they provide patients with a little desk that can rolled over and above the recliners. The little rolling desks are very convenient and easy to use. Additionally, there is an extra comfortable chair for your visitor. And each patient area has a stool for the doctors or nurses to sit on while administering an IV. Oh, and I can’t forget the snack lounge for patients. It has an ice and water machine, and there’s a refrigerator with cold beverages.


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