Our family has been cloaked in various sicknesses for the last week, from coast to coast. Most appear to be variations of the flu, or infections of the viral kind.
This all culminated in a visit tonight to the Emergency Room at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital for Oliver. Not because there was an emergency, mind you, but simply because our family doctor was too busy to see Oliver today, and he has been running a fever of 103 for a couple of days. We’re still in the “overly cautious, better safe than sorry” phase of parenting, where the downsides of the eternal waiting room visit don’t yet trump the upsides of a professional diagnosis. So off we went.
I’d be willing to bet that the QEH Emergency Room is the consistently most stressful place on Prince Edward Island. Everyone there is sick or injured. And they’re all being made to wait a lot longer than they think they should, rightly or wrongly (yes, triage is triage, but that doesn’t matter much when you’re in pain).
Like most emergency rooms I’ve seen the inside of, the QEH’s version is decorated in a fashion best decribed as “prison modern.” There are generic, uncomfortable chairs. Old, moldy magazines. A television playing some innocuous channel that nobody is interested in watching. And the room is plastered with various warning signs from floor to ceiling: don’t smoke, don’t use your cell phone, wait your turn, cover your mouth when you sneeze, take a number, stay out of here, and so on.
It is not, let’s just say, a very welcoming place. Add to that the pall of sickness, injury and death that permeates, and the result is a place that serves only to make those forced to wait there more stressed than they started out.
I’m no doctor, but I’ll willing to bet that’s not a good thing, “wellness” wise.
What would it take to turn the QEH Emergency Room from a health gulag into something more welcoming, and, dare I say, pleasant to wait in? It’s never going to be perfect, because people waiting there are still going to be sick and injured. But surely with the investment of a small amount of money and effort, the environment could be significantly improved, couldn’t it?
Surely the benefits — less stress for patients (meaning less stress for staff) and less of a problem with long waits (because they’re not so painful) — would be worth it.