I have been in hospitals all over the world, even in the area of famine in Haiti. No one, except the seriously ill, wants to go to a hospital. Sleep for long is almost impossible. The area near the nursing station is almost always noisy, and your are awaken very often, to check your vital signs, draw blood, etc. Often, there is a minor problem with either the phone, or new automatic equipment. One of the larger difficulties is being hooked to a tower with some substance going into your veins. This means you must either pull the tower with you when you go to the bathroom, or go to the bathroom through the laborious difficulty of being unhooked, and rehooked, when you return. Also, there is the embarrassment of showing the staff the full "monty." In all, the sum is to want out as soon as ambulatory.

Recently, I went to the new wing of Jacksonville's Mother Frances Hospital and was proud that Jacksonville had such a facility. While the always present problems of hospitals were there, their presence was muted and quickly addressed. It was orderly, clean and downright efficient. Rooms and bathrooms were private, and the place had a family aura to it. Most wonderful was the staff. I have never seen such a dedicated, cheerful staff with joy in performing their duties. In five days from a big toe festering, I got to know most of them - their origins, their family composition, their taste in music, and indirectly, their spouses and siblings. In one case, there was a childless Hispanic woman. Her beloved dogs live a life many a dog, and a few people, would envy. The dogs unlike many children, worshipped their "parents," and joy and contentment reigned. Being with no children myself, yet many animals, I most identified with her.

I told the staff a few, brief jokes, recognizing they must protect their time, and when I left the hospital, a young woman said I had made her head larger with compliments. Yet, it is I, who must salute them, and store the good memories of them. Even the doctor who has been to almost as many countries as I have, took the time to share his adventures with me of places far away and long ago. Hospitals throughout the land should study their operation. But my advice to patients is this: Be a better patient, and you'll have a better staff.

Ray S. Cryer

Rusk, Texas

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