Let me just say, that I’ve had my fair share of hospital stays in my life. Actually, way more than the average person should.
My first hospital experience was when I was only four years old; I was just recently diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis and was also diagnosed with Pneumonia in both lungs. I was young and relatively healthy back then, so it was easy and I only needed to stay in the hospital for four days.
Over the next couple of years, though, my body and health started getting weaker, CF regimens got more intense, the bacteria I was growing in my lungs started resisting the antibiotics, etc. This led to my four-day hospital stays turning into one week, then two weeks, and now sometimes even two and a half or three weeks.
Words cannot even describe how grateful I am for modern medicine and my doctors. They are literally the reason I am alive today, able to sit here and write this article. But, when I am in the hospital treating my lungs and trying to get better for a long period of time, the hospital starts to have an adverse affect.
First off, patients get little to no sleep. There is constant beeping and buzzing going on ALL night. Whether it be from my heart monitor telling me my heart rate is dropping, (which, newsflash, everybody’s heart rate drops when they are sleeping!) or my I.V. pole going off indicating that my antibiotics are done, or hearing other patients own beeps and buzzes or cries and screams in the middle of the night. Getting a good night sleep in the hospital is nearly impossible. Now, remember, I’m usually in the hospital for at least two weeks. Not sleeping for that long can make anyone feel sick and/or irritated.
Secondly, the way that hospitals are built can have an effect on patients as well. Most hospitals that were built in the 50s and 60s are very outdated, dark and dreary. They have incredibly small rooms, tight nit bathrooms and usually no window. Most patients are in isolation, which means that they are stuck in these small, dark rooms for a week or more and are unable to leave. This can start to have an effect on their mental health, which is just as important to patient’s recovery as their physical health. There was even a study done where patients with bipolar disorder were randomly assigned to brighter rooms with a visible window, and these patients were released quicker than the patients who did not have a window in their room.
Lastly, hospitals have a frequent problem of hospital-acquired infections which are a large contributor to illness, longer hospital stays and can even be fatal. These type of infections actually affect up to 30 percent of intensive care patients. This is a real and scary circumstance that could be avoided by eliminating shared rooms and only housing patients in private rooms, doctors and nurses wearing masks and gloves when entering multiple patients’ rooms and many more protocols that can and should be followed by hospitals.
Hospitals save lives every day, mine included. But everything has room for improvement; improving noise control, building and/or remodeling hospital’s architecture and following protocols that can decrease the risk of hospital-acquired infections I think is essential, especially when it could enhance the recovery process and the well-being of patients.