Saturday, October 10, 2009

Lost in the (Hospital) Supermarket

Morton Plant Hospital in Clearwater, Florida
With all the talk in the news about health care, I thought I would weigh in with my two cents from a personal perspective. My family's recent experience at Morton Plant Mease in Clearwater, Florida was just great. The hospital is the recipient of the “Magnet” designation, an award for nursing excellence from the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC). I can see why. The nurses and doctors there that delivered our baby were terrific. We saw the great side of health care in America last week.

On a lighter note, the hospital is a labyrinthine maze to navigate through. The hospital is old and has had numerous wings, floors and additions added to it over the years; it now has something like three entrances, 5 different elevators, and mezzanine, ground and first floor levels. After innocently leaving to get a cup of coffee from the hospital cafeteria, I felt like Jason and the Argonaut's when trying to return to my wife's room.

I would love to ask the designers of the hospital floor plan a few questions: what is the difference between the ground level and the first floor? And why is the "Basement Level" above ground? And why was my wife's room numbered #7319 when it was on the 3rd floor?

When I finally found the one elevator out of five that actually went to the seventh floor (which could only be reached through the basement), and pressed the buzzer to talk to the nurse's station, the nurse said they had no Chambers on that floor. "She has to be," I exclaimed! Her room number, dutifully memorized by me before my Hero's quest to get a cup of coffee from the hospital's cafeteria had begun, was #7319. Someone on the nursing staff patiently explained that it was on the third floor, and when I protested, that this was somehow logical. My guess is that Daedalus himself could not have done better. I almost wondered if the layout of the hospital had been designed by the same people who designed Windows Vista.

I was determined to return to my wife - but should it have required a struggle of epic proportions at 5 o'clock in the morning - worthy of a chapter in the Odyssey - when my wife was in labor? I am sure she figured I had hightailed it to California with a case of last minute nerves, never to be seen again until tracked down by the Department of Health and Human Services. Sure, I could have prevented all this by asking someone on the hospital staff for directions, but of course that was out of the question for obvious reasons. By the time I actually managed to get back to my wife's hospital room I half expected to encounter Penelope's suitors, or at least a new addition to my family.

The whole episode game me a sense of Deja Vu. I feel I am sensing a trend here. Life today is getting more and more complicated. Computers, which were suppose to make our lives simpler, are a major culprit. It takes five remotes to operate our TV. It is not uncommon to have TVs with over 800 channels. (I remember when we had three). I have to program my telephone - to no avail...

Sometimes I feel like the Minotaur when trying to navigate through this modern world we live in today. And even the local hospital seems to feel a need to get in on the action.

But, to borrow a few words from Shakespeare, which incidentally are not copyrighted, "all's well that ends well." And that was the case as both my wife and new baby boy, Tanner John Chambers, came home healthy and happy from the hospital.

(Disclosure: The title of this blog post is derived from the song title "Lost in the Supermarket," by the Clash.)