The Sage Connection

Hospital stay musings, then and now


Recently I spent a few days as a patient in Providence St. Peter Hospital. I have not been in any hospital since 1976, so to say things have changed would be a major understatement.

When my last stay took place, I was seen by my primary physician and my surgeon daily. We would chat a bit, and then they would leave with the promise to return the next day. Because I was a young mother with four children, they were not in as big a hurry to release me as I was to get home.

I was supposed to be on bed rest for another week at home, and my surgeon explained his reluctance to kick me out this way; “I know how you mothers are. You will start out for a couple of hours in your bed and then move to the living room, where you can keep an eye on your kids. Then you will notice there is dust on your coffee table and soon you will be running the vacuum around the house.”

He wasn’t far off.

This time around was very different. First of all, I was sent to the emergency room (ER) by the doctor I saw at urgent care, where I had been sent by my primary physician, who couldn’t fit me in that day.

While I was in the ER, I was seen by five different doctors, none of whom I had ever met before. I arrived around 10:00 am and was admitted around 4:00 pm. No regular rooms were available, so I stayed the first night and all the next day in a room in the ER section.

One of the doctors I met in the ER followed me during my stay. I had to Google this doctor’s name to find out who he was and what his specialty was.  I did not see any of my regular doctors until I was discharged.

My room in the ER was next door to the psych ward, and I was informed by the nursing staff that I might hear some strange noises, but not to worry; there was a police presence there at all times – a little nerve-racking, but all went well.

When I finally was moved to a room upstairs the following evening, I was very surprised to find it was a private room with a wall-to-wall window, couch, desk and two rocking chairs. The room was formerly part of the maternity ward.

The next surprise was the staff members. They were, as you would expect, all very caring and compassionate. Interestingly, two of my assigned nurses were from out of state, part of the Traveling Nurses Program.

One hailed from Dallas, and since I had spent several years there myself, we enjoyed discussing the pros and cons of that city. The other traveling nurse was from Iowa. Both nurses enjoyed being able to travel the country, meeting new people, and seeing new places while they worked their thirteen-week rotation. They also explained that they sometimes extended their stay in certain hospitals if they were still needed and it was a good fit.

The traveling nurses must find their own places to stay while in the area where they work and usually stay in rented rooms or bed and breakfast inns.

All the nurses were working twelve-hour shifts – three days on and four days off. Despite the long hours, they were as dedicated and pleasant at the end of their shifts as they were in the beginning. The IV and respiratory techs were still on eight-hour shifts and also very friendly and caring.

I mention this because I believe attitude is very important both for myself and those around me when I am not at my best. Positive reinforcement is a big plus in my book, and I received plenty during my stay.

In my opinion, the housekeepers – unsung heroes all – slipped quietly in and out of my room each morning. And every day a new lovely floral card appeared on the shelf above my sink with a note that said call if you need anything, signed by whomever was on duty that day and their phone number. Simple but so thoughtful.

One of the biggest surprises was the food. A menu, not unlike one you would find in a restaurant, offered many choices of entrees, sides, desserts, and beverages. The surprise came when I was told you simply call and place your order when you are hungry - anytime between 6:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m.

So, my stay lasted seven days, I received excellent care and I am now familiar with the local hospital routine.

And hopefully, it will be another 47 years before I have to repeat it.

Kathleen Anderson writes this column each week from her home in Olympia.  Contact her at or post your comment below. 


2 comments on this item Please log in to comment by clicking here

  • DiWeShoot

    Wishing you well for the next 47 years.

    Wednesday, May 17, 2023 Report this

  • Writersuntied

    Thank you - me too! Kahtleen

    Thursday, May 18, 2023 Report this