A Patient Friendly New Hospital
A series of vignettes on a theme of hospitals
Today we had “an open house” at our new hospital is being built a few kilometres from our house. The mid-west region of Denmark is gathering all of its wards and functions in one place on a field near a railway. After it was decided to build here a highway has been completed to allow people to arrive from far off. Ambulances and hearses will have their separate entrance ways. The advantage of building from scratch is that every detail can be thought of and all functions can aim at the goal for the hospital. In this case, the employees have worked hard on letting it be a hospital for the patients.
Henry and I went there by bike as many others but most came by car and had their trouble finding an empty parking lot. It looked like most of the population from our town and surrounding areas showed their interest.
Many routines are going to be changed. The personnel will come to the patients who will be able to stay as much as possible in their room. The whole hospital will only have one- man rooms. The closest family members can stay close by in hotel rooms at the hospital. Utilities and food will be brought to the wards by robot trolleys so that the ward personnel can spend time helping the patient. I imagine that the porters who used to transport everything will feel a loss as their work will be done by robots. They will have new tasks as putting things on shelves and maybe helping the patients more actively.
Earth colours are chosen with great care so that they match the nature around. The psychiatric ward has green on the walls and the somatic wards will be white. Artists are chosen to decorate according to what we believe is good for the patients today.
Every room will have windows that show the green nature and the rooms at the psychiatric ward will have an exit to closed patios.
The kitchen will function day and night so that patients with a very little appetite will be able to get what they would like at any time. We tasted a high protein and energy dessert with fruit and cream that was very tasty. The kitchen people would themselves serve the food to the patients.
We were introduced to a delivery room where the father could decide on the music and a wall decoration, trees or waves or something else from nature. The room looked more like a living room than a hospital delivery room.
It’s too late to get any more babies for me but did I feel a slight wish to be able to be a patient for a minor problem?
I was encouraged to see that the patient was a central figure in this huge building process. Many patients’ organisations have been heard together with doctors and nurses and other professions working in the hospital. Those who told the stories about the new hospital were the absolute top employees and it sounded like they meant what they said that both patients and the staff were going to be treated well.
In my childhood and my youth, I have seen another new hospital being built. The one close to my childhood home, where both my parents died, the wards had windows for the patients’ rooms but the people working there had rooms in the middle of the ward without any windows. The colours of the walls and the foyer were so bright that you felt beaten in the stomach looking at it. The architecture looked like the Soviet style and many years after they still try to make it look better. The top eight out of 25 floors stood empty for many years as the budget was exceeded. At least they had the floors to be used later.
I found a film about it told in an enthusiastic voice. Today we wouldn’t spend 18 minutes on showing a building. The art used is Pop Art and very nice for healthy people to look at. The artist is Poul Gernes.
While I was training as a nurse yet another new hospital was erected in the Copenhagen area and at that time in the 1979s the architects forgot to ask the involved staff about things so the beds couldn’t pass the narrow doors in the rooms and I guess it had to be altered at great extra costs.
A hospital memory pops up when I think about this new hospital being built. In 1962 when I was eleven years old we had our British friends visiting us for the first and last time. Josey and my mother met each other in 1946 at a youth hostel in London and had kept faithfully in contact ever since. If you are interested you can read their story here in the post “Writing Letters”.
She, her husband Ronnie and their three boys from Manchester had their summer vacation at our house. It was a great joy and so exciting. I could only say three words in English our English lessons started after the holiday. Before they arrived my father had to have a gall bladder operation at a new hospital about ten kilometres away. (Our new ugly one was not yet constructed in our neighbourhood). At the time it was a big operation and he nearly died from emboli in the lung. I KNEW that he would not die and he recovered. The English friends went the long way by bus to visit him with us and their youngest boy Adam was five years old. When he saw the huge hall with marble floors and lots of elevators he marvelled and said :
I would like to break every bone in my head to be allowed in here!
My mother must have translated this and I know that he said exactly these words.
The Glostrup hospital where my father was treated in 1962
A moment later he happened to get away from his family as he went up on the elevator on his own. When we found him he had lost all his eagerness for staying at the fine hospital.
Pictures from the holiday with us in Copenhagen 1962