A friend from church had knee replacement surgery yesterday. I’ve known a number of people who’ve had that experience. With only a couple of exceptions, the surgery has gone really well and the rehabilitation time went by like a flash. If it works, it works well. If it is problematic, it really is an inconvenience.
Maybe I’m gun-shy, but I attempt to avoid doctors and hospitals. I recognize that when you need one, there is no substitute for quality medical care. Several years ago when I had back surgery, I was given the option of staying overnight in the hospital. Why would anyone want to do that? I thanked the doctor for the offer, but respectfully declined. I told him hospitals could kill you. He laughed.
It really is true. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): “Healthcare-associated infections (HAIs)–infections patients can get while receiving medical treatment in a healthcare facility–are a major, yet often preventable, threat to patient safety. Together with health care and public health partners, CDC is working to bring increased attention to HAIs and prevention. Reportedly, on any given day about one in twenty-five hospital patients have at least one health-care associated infection.
At any rate, my friend who had knee surgery yesterday made an exceptional choice when he chose his hospital. For one thing, when you walk inside it doesn’t look like a hospital. Actually, before you get that far, you’ve got to know where you’re going to even find the hospital. It is nestled in the hills of Westlake near one of the busiest intersections in that part of town. If by chance you pass it up, you’re not going to want to turn around backtrack your steps to find it.
Fortunately, I’ve visited a patient or two in that setting before, so I knew the general area, but the hospital is really difficult to locate. It would have been easier to find coming from my work if I had taken the toll road, but the rental car I’m driving doesn’t have a toll tag. I figured the pay-by-mail surcharges the rental car company would add to my credit card weren’t worth the hassle, so I took the long way. Did I mention that took a long time?
When I arrived at the hospital, I entered a fairly non-descript door and took the elevator to the third floor. Stepping out of the elevator onto the third floor, it had no resemblance to a hospital. I saw a hospital employee dressed in scrubs and asked for directions to the room number I needed. He had a question for me: “How did you get in here?”
My answer was simple: “I came in through the door down stairs”. He responded, “I’ll help you find the room your looking for, but first let me show you where the hospital entrance is located”. Trust me, this is at least the third time I’ve been to that hospital and I’ve never accessed the building through the main entrance before. That at least explains the strange look another employee gave me on the lower floor who stepped out of the elevator as I was stepping in. I guess if you look like you know what you’re doing, no one asks questions. On the other hand, the second employee that I saw asked me how I got in the building. Maybe I didn’t really look like I knew what I was doing.
Not only did the employee lead me to the entrance, he suggested we walk outside so I could see what the entrance looked like from that perspective. So was I being tossed out of the building before I really got in or was the staff person being overly helpful? The fact that the question loomed in the horizon of my consciousness says a lot, but I’m not sure what? Fortunately, it proved to be the latter. The staff person was being helpful. He even told me how to get to the entrance: “You can either drive to the highest point and park or you can walk to the highest point before you enter the building”.
When you come into the hospital through the main entrance, the setting is serene. For one thing, there is the presence of live plants. You don’t have to walk far once you’re inside the building before you realize the flooring in the hallway has the appearance of a river bottom. Ample windows along the hallway provide a clear view of a pond on the lower level filled with fish and surrounded by vegetation. So was this really a hospital or was it a high dollar spa where medical treatment and care is provided?
I had a flashback to the mid-1970s. Being the standards and policy specialist for residential child care licensing, I had some familiarity the standards and best practice for hospitals. A lot of emphasis was given on the therapeutic value of live well-cared for plants in the environment. Trust me, if the plants were half-dead, the therapeutic value would have gone the other direction.
You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to know that psychological stress and inadequately controlled pain can have a negative effect on wound healing and patient comfort. Research backs up the concept that patients recover more quickly from stress and report less physical discomfort when they are in a serene and natural setting. Patients with views of nature have been shown to have faster recovery from surgery. In addition, those exposed to a garden environment demonstrate less pain and emotional distress during hospitalization.
I guess you could say that from the outside in, Westlake Hospital really gets it. First of all, they show you the door and once you’re inside the setting has all the bells and whistles. If ever there was a boutique hospital, this one is just what the doctor ordered.
All My Best!