hospital - quotes and descriptions to inspire creative writing
The sanctity of the patient, their humanity, is what this hospital strives to uphold - especially in challenging times.
In the pandemic we turned hotels into pop-up hospitals, "deputising" volunteers in as our staff.
"In this hospital bed my medicine is my memories, the good times we shared. My peace is our love, that which connects us always. You, the one who holds my heart as if it were a precious gem; you are my doctor. So though I am here, you are still the one who keeps me strong."
The hospital corridor is stuffy and the air has an undertone of bleach. The walls are magnolia and are scraped in places from the hundreds of trolleys that have bumped into them. The pictures on the walls are cheap benign prints of uplifting scenes and above the double doors are large blue plastic signs with the areas of the hospital that lie ahead.
The hospital was little more than a large house on a hill, indeed that is what it had been before the war. But when they had pushed the enemy back beyond their own boarders they had seized this mansion for their own use and flown in the medical staff and supplies they required. Now the generous sized bedrooms and the lounge areas became wards, only the dinning room and kitchens retained their original purpose.
On the private ward the atmosphere was completely different. The air had a perfumed scent and the seats were plush. Every surface was dustless. The nurses were unhurried and they moved with a serene purposefulness from room to room on their rounds. There were vases of flowers and beautiful framed pieces of art on the walls. In the corridor was a water dispenser and in most rooms could be heard the noise of a television.
Alex lay in the curtained cubical examining the polystyrene tiled ceiling. There was nothing else to look at. He could hear moans from an adjacent bed and that at least made him glad for the curtains, it meant he didn't have to engage with whoever it was, to show any sympathy he didn't feel.
Rosie had been fighting hard against being put in an old folks home, but she had broken her pelvis slipping of a dryer sheet. She had always perceived hospitals as beneficent places of caring and compassion, places to recover and be doted upon by dedicated professionals. And to some extent that had occurred. There were medical staff who never wavered in their genuine concern, who despite a lack of resources never faltered in their humanity. Then there were the disaffected who turned up only to get their pay-check. Today her nurse was a pay-checker. Instead of the dignified bed bath she'd had the day before, only uncovering a small amount of her skin at a time, the harried nurse exposed her entirely. She stared at the ceiling too mortified to speak, not daring to glance at the curtains to check for gaps. When she was re-dressed in a clean gown the nurse pulled back the curtain and announced that her breakfast had arrived, but Rosie had lost her appetite. She just wanted to go home.
Accident and emergency, wide entrance with automatic sliding glass doors, ambulances lined up outside, paramedics wheeling in patients on trollies, one is a child in a neck brace, a child is screaming in the corridors, doctors come running. I talk to the first nurse, give care card number, get a wrist band, wait for the triage nurse, an hour goes by, ambulances keep arriving, more emergency cases, one woman is short of breath and gasping, another hour goes by, still not seen triage, guess I'm low priority, someone says they've been waiting five hours, more ambulances come in, someone throws up, a panic stricken woman comes in carrying a toddler, she pushes in the queue to see the first nurse, child slumped in her arms. I go home.
The hallway has as much personality as the rest of the hospital. The floor is slate grey and the walls dove. Above the ceiling is made from those polystyrene squares laid on a grid-like frame. The light is too bright for my eyes after the darkening gloom outside, I find it abrasive, enough perhaps to bring on one of my migraines. There are commercial prints on the wall, tasteful in the dull kind of way. This place certainly isn't run by risk-takers and I guess I should find comfort in that. Above every door I pass is a large plastic sign, dark with white lettering- no fancy fonts, just bold and all-caps. It's so new and spotless I feel like the whole building must have just gotten beamed here from some-place dirt is outlawed. My eyes fall to the garish flowers in my hand, their dampness seeping through my woollen glove. Suddenly I don't mind their cost anymore, it's worth it, Mom's going to need some colour in here.
Nowhere is the chronic underfunding more evident than in the hallways. They are for the most part crammed with patients on trolleys, some tended by strained relatives and some alone. Each of them lies on their back, strapped in- eyes toward the naked fluorescent tubes that flicker as though they are on their last legs. In the brief gaps between these unfortunates who cannot afford the exorbitant private fees, the pale blue walls are deeply scored by the metal framed trollies, the drywall showing though like white scars. The cheap prints on the walls are insipid, so lacking in vibrancy that they appear sun-bleached in this windowless strip. The confined space magnifies the groans and wails to no avail, the nurses have seen it all before and are immune, hardened by repeat exposure and over-work.
I reach the navy double-doors with their plastic band fastened midway and their dull chrome handles. I pull my eyes from the highly polished linoleum floor to catch a glimpse of the hallway that stretches beyond, cut into tiny squares by the thin wire in the window panels. Without pause I push with my body weight, but I needn't have, it swings open soundlessly and with ease. A draft of air hits my face, warm and with a tincture of bleach. Ahead of me lie magnolia walls, decorated with old black and white photographs of hospital staff- most likely either deceased or rocking their nineties in some retirement home. I could fit at least two of me with arms outstretched across its width. Instead of straight walls the hallway has a curve, disappearing from sight in a hundred meters or so. Every few seconds I pass a different set of doors with a hand-sanitizer dispenser: to oncology, to geriatrics, to maternity. I bypass them all heading for psychiatry, because that's where my brother is.
It lies beside the sea, this hospital, where clean winds blow, its neat roadways are bordered by green lawns and flanked by long, low buildings that reach away in far perspective, buildings of corrugated iron, of wood and asbestos, a very city, but one where there is no riot and rush of traffic, truly a city of peace and brooding quietude.
The paramedics quickly park the truck in the employee parking lot and take him out. They hurry through the double doors, the wheels of the stretcher and my pounding footsteps the only thing I can hear. "Miss Kegan, you cannot follow them." The receptionist stops me with a manicured hand. My heart sinks into my chest as the stretcher disappears from view.
"Why?" is all I can choke out, as my mind fills with a succession of horrible outcomes, each worse than the last.
"You must wait in the waiting room like everybody else," she says in educated but clipped tones and gestures to where she was talking about. She watches through perfect mascara as I sit dejectedly in one of the hard plastic chairs.
The common area on the ward was a television and plastic chairs. It was about as comfortable as a train station.
sterile; calm, unhurried efficiency; latex and packaged gauze
If you look to your right there you’ll see the old Riverview Hospital, stunning isn’t it? The land rolls smoothly under the grass like it was sculpted, it's an arboretum too, so many tree species. Up there is West Lawn, the first large building they put up to house the mentally ill. It's a classic mansion of redbrick and white columns, left to decay with weathering and gravity, yet ten times the size of even the most ostentatious of local dwellings. In the name of progress they kicked out the patients to suffer and be abused on the downtown Eastside. But I digress again, another topic for another day. We’re past it now anyhow...
Found in Are you awake yet? - first draft, authored by .