Home » Caring for Dad - Healing Myself » Dad Diary: I can’t visit you if I can’t find you! Lamentations of hospital wayfinding.

Dad Diary: I can’t visit you if I can’t find you! Lamentations of hospital wayfinding.

I have yet to visit a hospital campus that doesn’t tax even the most clear-headed person. I often wonder if the configuration of parking garages and hospitals are built as some kind of intelligence test. I parked on level purple 6 and I have to make my way to the third floor of the garage, which is a different floor number in the main building. But, that building is not the building that I need so I find myself back out on the street. Now, I have to cross the street, enter on the ground level, take the escalator up to the main lobby and find the main elevators amongst several banks of elevators. Oh, but you can’t ride the elevator occupied by the medication robot and you can’t take the express elevator because it doesn’t go to your floor. This elevator is for patient transport only and you need a key card to use this other elevator. I can’t even begin to outline the litany of doors, floors, elevators and landmarks it takes just to get from Point A to Point Dad.

Every visitor looks like a nomad in a foreign desert, wandering towards a mirage of a person willing to help. What’s even more frustrating is that when you do actually find someone kind enough to give you directions, you have to have a decoder ring and a sherpa with you just to figure it out. “Head down this hallway and make a left at the second sets of chairs. Then go down that hall and make a left by the Starbucks and continue until you see the dancing clown who is holding a map that will take you to your unit.” Honestly, wayfinding in a hospital is ridiculous.

I miss the old days of colored dots on the floors. I just follow the green dots until I get to where I need to be.

No wonder visitors to the hospital are cranky and tired before they even see their loved one. And, I live less than two miles from this particular major medical center. What about the folks who drove two-plus hours from the country into the city?! They deserve a medal just for making it to visiting hours.

Whatever happened to directories in the elevators to tell you what floor each department or unit is located? How about a color coded map similar to a bus schedule. If you want to get to unit 4H, pick this map up and you can go from the main lobby to that unit? Or, better yet, the good ole’ ‘You Are Here’ map! Then, at least I can get a big picture of where I’m standing right now and the possible paths that Pac Man can take to get to the cherries.

A hint for those who manage the hospital experience. People are not in their right minds when they are coming to visit you. They are harried, scared and they’re mind is not firing on all cylinders.

Today, as I waited for the elevator, and the medication robot to vacate the area, I noticed a sign that struck me. It said, “Be kind; everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” It’s so true. And, for those of us navigating the gauntlet of healthcare just to see our loved ones, the quote should read, “Be kind; everyone you meet is lost in this place.”

About @susanharkema

Susan is the creator of MyHealthVoice.com, built upon her 20+ years in healthcare and her experiences as a caregiver and patient. She is a writer, speaker and advocate for people living with chronic or life limiting illness as well as their family and professional caregivers. Learn more - www.myhealthvoice/susanharkema/.

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