Civilised care (HLD 261)

8 Dec 2020

I have had occasion recently to spend time with a loved one in the emergency room in a busy metropolitan hospital.

It was b.u.s.y.

Fortunately, for stickybeaks and generally inquisitive people, this gave us ample opportunity to eavesdrop on other people’s dramas, which is an excellent way to pass some time.

In the waiting room, it’s just a bunch of miserable people (mostly) politely sitting waiting their turn.

Out the back in the assessment cubicles is where it’s all happening, and that place is a hive of activity.

Apart from the incessant calls over the PA system that we tried valiantly to interpret (often with the assistance of internet searches), the constant beeping or alarms from monitors, the constant movement of people, trolleys, and medical equipment, there was the wonderful human element.

It was obvious they were very busy. They told us, just in case we hadn’t picked that up. But that didn’t mean that we were ignored. There were constant visits from people who had a particular job they needed to do, something they needed to check.

The staff who had a couple of minutes to chat while writing down their observations made reference to their headaches, anticipation of getting outside on a meal break to get some fresh air, and tiredness.

But they kept going. Everyone had a role, and they did it – sooner or later, depending on the severity of the issue.

Security guards heading with a sense of urgency to one cubicle gave an impression of the risks the staff in our hospitals face on a daily basis.

I read a post yesterday about anthropologist Margaret Mead, who was asked what she considered to be the first sign of civilisation. Her response was that it was when ancient bones were found that showed healed thigh fractures. In uncivilised places, a leg fracture would be essentially a death sentence because you could not fend for yourself, and would be vulnerable to predators. A healed fracture meant someone looked after you, fed you and protected you. Caring = civilisation.

Our medical fraternity do an amazing job. I’m in awe.

And in our country at the moment, we are in a good place regarding the pandemic. Our hospitals aren’t overwhelmed with coronavirus patients, they don’t have to wear hazmat suits just to take someone’s blood pressure, and they can still muster up a smile and a laugh, even when they have got a headache from all that bloody beeping.

Let’s all spare a moment of mental gratitude for those staff who are doing it very tough in hospitals throughout the world.

And maybe as a civilised society, we could look after each other by doing the right thing and not spreading potential germs.

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