We sat in the main entrance of the hospital, surrounded by fellow seniors. Seniors volunteer at the information desk, and help direct people unfamiliar with the registration process. Notably, seniors are the majority of the people who have business at the hospital as well.
At registration, where you take a number, every wicket opened as patients checked in for procedures that day. We waited for the number to be called as the seats filled up around us, everyone needing directions to the appropriate clinic. Among those checking in, a child, young adults and middle aged people looked out of place.
Listening to the conversations around us, some like my husband and I, waited with a friend who had an appointment that day. People spoke of pain and its management, doctors they liked and didn’t, wait times in spite of appointments. Some sat alone and waited quietly. Several people used canes as friends linked into them, everyone eager to get on with the day.
We sat in several areas during the day. Young people had day surgery while family members waited. A roomful of grey heads occupied the eye clinic. The cancer clinic embraced people of various ages. A family waited excitedly as a young mother gave birth just as we had done when our first grandchild was born. In the chapel several people sat in quiet thought or prayer.
By supper time, the registration area and the various clinics and collection areas had emptied out. Patients left in wheelchairs, with patched eyes, casts on legs and arms in slings. A construction worker limped to a waiting vehicle. Otherwise, as earlier in the day, most were seniors, accompanied by fellow seniors or younger family members.
A day spent in a hospital watching the proceedings gave me pause.