Tourist-friendly, patient-oriented

by Evans Yonson

(Note: In the next three weeks, I will be writing about Hospital Sant Pau. Later on, I will be blogging about Barcelona’s interesting sites and places like the Sagrada Familia, Las Ramblas, the Barceloneta, and many more.)

I decided to go to the emergency room of the Hospital de la Santa Creu I Sant Pau in Calle Sant Antoni Maria Claret. I have been to this hospital before as a tourist. I came here in 2004 alone with my camera. I entered the hospital grounds and I was filled with awe by the architectural designs of the buildings. This time I will be entering the hospital and seeing it from another perspective. I chose this hospital because it is very convenient for me as I live near. I arrived at ten in the morning of April 10 (Good Friday). I planned this day because I wanted to see if there are people coming to the hospital before going on a long weekend holiday. I intended to observe for four hours today. It was drizzling outside and there were several tourists coming in and going out of the hospital’s main building.

There are three entrances to the hospital. The first one (at the corner of Calle Cartagena and Sant Antoni Maria Claret) is for those tourists who come in droves every single day. The first entrance has a picturesque view of the Sagrada Familia’s Nativity facade. The second (along Calle Sant Antoni Maria Claret) is the emergency room entrance where ambulances and emergency patients arrive. The third is the new entrance along Calle Sant Quinti for the medical staff and patients with cars.  Upon entering the hospital, I looked for the entrance to the emergency room, which I found out is different from the regular entrance door. The scent of medicine filled the air as the emergency medical staff was running here and there. The ambulance people are wearing fluorescent yellow-green jackets with dark blue suit and pants under.  They look like the Guardia Urbana police in some aspects who are well-built men and their presence is so commanding.

I entered immediately the waiting room area and I committed a mistake of not reading the signs. I passed by what looked like a reception room with three women-nurses wearing white dresses. This room is separated from the hallway by a glass window. There were two couples talking to the nurses by that hole in the window. I entered the waiting room for children-patients. Suddenly all eyes were upon me. It dawned on me that those who enter this room must have a child in tow. The parents were looking at me with this gaze in their eyes as if asking me, where is your kid, while their sick children were unmindful of my presence. I started writing down something on my notebook. I was pretending to be waiting for someone. In this room of about 16 square meters, the seats are situated on the walls. There is a small table at the center where a child was looking at a book that looked like a fairy tale story. There are no toys on the table except for that old book. The windows are on one side of the room. The moment I entered the room, there were four children with their parents. Three of these children were with their mothers and one was with both of his parents. These children have their strollers. The children were heavily coughing and sneezing. After about 15 minutes, a mother, with her child, comes in with the child crying and coughing. The cry was so irritating that everybody was looking at the child.

I wanted to strike a conversation with the parents but I could not at this point in time. Everyone seemed preoccupied with their children. I looked at my watch and released a heavy breath that attracted the latest mother who came in. She looked at me and she started talking and complaining about the unpredictable weather. They were planning to leave for Cadaquiz later that day but had to drop by the hospital as her child was really sick. Her child’s name is Tamara and she is almost two years old. Tamara was coughing hard and she cried in pain. The mother said they arrived earlier but had to go out to entertain Tamara. This woman and her child have been waiting for almost two hours now for their turn. She said the doctors could not be slower this time of the week since everybody is away on holidays. The other mother replied that some doctors also went on holidays. Suddenly the room was alive. The parents were talking about the weather, which for me was indeed unusual.

Finally, Tamara and her mom were called by a lady-nurse for their turn. The mother bade me farewell. I told Tamara to get well and enjoy their vacation. She smiled back at me. One of the mothers, let’s name her Salome, started raising her voice for her son was coughing in pain and they have been waiting for almost two hours now. Salome’s son had mucus flowing in and out of his nose. The father of another child handed Salome a tissue paper for her. She gladly took it and wiped her son’s nose. Salome and the father started chatting, how Salome and her family were planning to leave for Rome early that morning but couldn’t because her son was sick. They were afraid that the health of the child was severe and in Rome, they might have a hard time staying in the hospital. They had to cancel everything. The father said his family will go on a vacation eventually in the summer, when his children don’t get sick.

Another mother interrupted that she makes sure that they get insurance when they travel and made sure that the insurance is accepted in their city of destination. The second father said that they had that experience when they went to Kenya with his wife and their four-year old daughter. The daughter contracted malaria that needed immediate medical care. Luckily in Nairobi, the private hospital where his daughter was admitted had a malaria doctor-specialist and they stayed in the hospital for the rest of their vacation. Salome replied that any vacation these days costs a lot. One has to invest a big amount of money if they are planning to go out of the country. But the second father said they would probably settle for another Spanish city than flying out of Spain in summer. The first father agreed and stood up. It was their turn now.

(to be continued, next Saturday.)