If you like this post, please read my Senior Parent Hospitalization posts: Report #1: This Hospital Gets It, Report #2: Peace and Quiet, Report #3: Four Ways to Reduce Stress for Patient Families, Report #4: Observations from My Dad, Report #5: The Emergency Room Worked Fast, and Report #6: Learning About Cardiac Procedures and Surgeries.
The last time I spent a night in the hospital, about 15 months ago, a group of dedicated professionals took care of me for about 24 hours. Yet the noise was impossible to ignore. A data monitor kept track of my pulse and other vitals, beeping along all night. Alarms went off in unseen places. My room was across from a stairwell, and all night as people came in and out of that door, it slammed. I tried closing the door to my room, but each time someone entered, my door was left open. An expansive, brightly lit nursing station was in the hallway a few doors down. Although I was not sick — I had gone to the hospital for strong heart palpitations, which turned out to be caused by a medication — I arrived home and slept for 15 hours, something I never do. While I was irritated by all of the noise, it seemed like, well, hospital noise.
This week I am noticing just how different things can be here at Rockingham Memorial Hospital (RMH) in Harrisonburg, VA, where my dad is a patient. Despite the hustle and bustle, the hospital, its new buildings barely a year old, maintains an atmosphere of peace and quiet from the healing garden and Mountain Cafe to the sitting areas, to the patient floors and rooms — even on a busy Friday. Actually I’d say an air of serenity permeates the place.
Sound attenuation features are everywhere at RMH. If you walk in the hallways along patient rooms, hearing a television is infrequent, though all of the rooms have them mounted on the walls and most are on. The patient rooms, at least on my father’s floor, have those digital data monitors that keep track of vital signs, but many are turned off except when the nurses are checking vitals. Carts move quietly, and doors close with a click. Even the dinner trays arrive without clinking and scraping noises. So far, over two days, I’ve not heard a door slam, and I’ve heard a hospital-wide announcement broadcast throughout the building just one time.
While the new green hospital campus has provided the RMH administration the opportunity to make lots of new changes, I want to note that even at the old location with a somewhat funky building, the hospital paid a lot of attention to noise problems.
Peace and quiet make a difference. It’s not perfect, of course, but there is so much less hospital noise compared to my hospitalization that is feels much better. It’s easy for my dad to sleep, and it’s easy for those of us in the family to be with him, relax, and help him get well.