About an year ago, I went through a nerve wreaking experience, when I had to get my wife admitted to a hospital in Singapore, under an emergency. After examinations, it was decided by the Doctors to let her stay in the hospital for a couple of days for observation and necessary treatment. This also meant that I would have to accompany her and stay there for next two days. This was a totally new experience for me as I had never stayed in an hospital before except for a day, when I had to undergo an eye surgery. I had also spent few nights in hospitals in my home town Pune many decades before, when my grand father was admitted to that hospital, but all those places were ordinary hospitals in India with bare necessities only available.
When I entered the hospital room, I looked around with awe. Central to the entire room was a huge patient bed on the background of latest electronic controllers to monitor BP, pulse. The bed was provided with full touch controls. This meant that just by touching some blue circular dots appearing on an video panel, my wife could adjust her bed in any position, could spread the day or night curtains, set the temperature of the room, slide the day and window curtains and control the big TV screen in the front. On the side was a narrow bed for the accompanying person, a midget refrigerator, few chairs and table. The room had number of lights which could be fully controlled remotely.
The attached bathroom was something similar to that is found in a five star hotel with some added patient friendly features such as height adjustable commode seat, a water jet with controls for temperature, flow and angle of attack. Even the shower bath was such that the shower head could be adjusted easily and a shower seat with adjustable height.
The readers are likely to conclude that my wife, who was the patient and myself, who accompanied her, must have had a pleasant stay. As far as my wife was concerned, initially she was under sedatives and was in no position to appreciate the luxury around her and next day, when her pain had subsided, she wanted to get out of the hospital and was in no mood to enjoy anything. For myself, I can vouch that those two days were perhaps worst two days of my life. I was under terrible anxiety, worry and tension and was in absolutely no mood to enjoy any of the niceties around me. Both of us felt far better when we left the hospital after two days, as Doctors found nothing seriously wrong with my wife.
I remembered my horrific two day experience of last year, when I came to know about a new trend in India; of building new hospitals that give five star treatment to the patients. Besides the super comfort beds and other furniture, the new hospital rooms provide latest electronic gadgets such as Wi-Fi, extra-large LED TV sets and ultramodern gadgets. For top of the line suites, hospitals provide interpreters, personal attendants and a well-stocked pantry. Some hospitals provide pick up and drop patients in luxury cars. For overly fussy patients, hospitals even provide a gourmet fare. Hospitals even let a patient run his office from the superlative comfort of his hospital room. Some hospitals are even going to the ridiculous extent of providing movie theaters, food courts, spas, gyms and even a glitzy shopping arcade to take care of the needs of the patient's family.
All this comes with an exorbitantly high price tag; naturally. This means that these five star facilities are meant for super rich or CEO's of corporations and their brethren. Be it as it may, but do these physical comfort really help the patient? Let us take example of a busy company CEO, who might have developed a stroke or an attack of high BP and gets admitted to one such hospital. Most probably, he would be under sedatives and his relatives under tension. Who would have time and mood to enjoy the physical comforts, when there is a life and death situation lurking around the corner. Under such conditions how could a patient's family even think of visiting movie theaters, food courts, spas, gyms or shopping arcade. I find this whole concept ridiculously foolish. All that is needed really is a comfortable waiting area.
Lately, medical profession in India is changing towards gross commercialism. Gone are the family Doctors, who considered that keeping the health of their patient families was their prime responsibility. Now-a-days, we only have super specialists, who would advice you for a specific reference. In case of emergency, we no longer call our family Doctor because there is none. We have to simply rush and get the patient into a hospital, whether he needs hospitalization or not. This new trend of hospital care is a just a further step in this commercialization process. A patient who gets into a hospital, comes there necessarily because he is ailing. He needs quick and efficient medical advice, efficient nursing and a comfortable bed. All these super luxuries are of no avail.
7th May 2014