Saturday, May 27, 2006

A Tale of 2 Hospitals

Like most medical schools, our university is associated with two hospitals: the university hospital and a large county hospital. They sit on opposite sides of both our campus and the spectrum of luxury.

The university hospital is the nicer, more luxurious private hospital while the county hospital is a large, crowded, and understaffed monster of an institution that serves anyone who walks through the doors. The large county hospital is where we do nearly all our clinical rotations, but occasionally, for certain rotations or events, we get to work in the university hospital. Being used to the county hospital, most of us students get used to its inefficiency and dark, depressing corridors; but when you come over to the university hospital you immediately realize what the outside world is like.

Even though this is our hospital, and it's a great place to get trained as a medical student, you can't help but wish the county hospital was a little more like the other. Exactly how are they different?
  • That hospital has way too much money; there are new fancy buildings being erected every year. This hospital has has government money ... which ends up meaning no extra money.

  • Patients of that hospital have tens of millions of dollars to spare and then donate. Patients of this hospital can barely find two nickels to rub together.

  • Patients of that hospital include prominent celebrities like athletes, actors, and government officials. Patients of this hospital are homeless.

  • In that hospital halls are brightly lit, and rooms are spacious and single. In this hospital, the lights are orange and dim, and rooms are packed with 8 patients.

  • That hospital has 2 CT scanners for its 300 patients. This hospital has 4 scanners for approximately 800 patients -- and 3 of the scanners don't work (no joke).

  • In that hospital, ordering a test as "STAT" gets it performed immediately; in this hospital, STAT ends up meaning do it in a few hours -- unless, of course, the nurses don't feel like it.

  • In that hospital has air-conditioning; this hospital does too -- except it doesn't work, it isn't repaired, and it makes the summer months sweaty and miserable.

  • The cafeteria staff at that hospital learns your name and makes dishes according to your preferences. The staff at this hospital will never admit to recognizing you if you forget your name badge, and they make you swipe your badge twice if you want extra portions of food.

  • That cafeteria is well-lit and lively. This cafeteria keeps the lights dim so you don't see the mice running around.

  • Those patients, when discharged home, invite you to Pebble Beach to play golf, and sometimes they offer you a new car. The patients here, when discharged "home", go sit on the stairs just outside the hospital because that is their home.
This listing isn't meant to be scathing or bitter; it's merely a factual comparison between two hospitals separated by one physical block but by worlds of money.

Luxurious as the university hospital may seem, you can't beat the training you receive at the county hospital -- in terms of patient load, exposure to obscure diseases, and responsibility. And believe it or not, if you spend enough time at this hospital you might even begin to enjoy all its "features".

1 comment:

Jan said...

My guess is LAC/USC vs University Hospital.
Have rotated thru the former as a nurse many years ago, then was at the latter as a patient - again several years ago.