Unpopular opinion

This mural greets me every time I enter the hospital from the elevators.

There are several hospitals in Ottawa and I’ve used almost all of them. I’ve used them enough that I even have a favourite.

The Riverside hospital is the first one I came to when I moved here because it houses the diabetes and endocrinology clinic. Its also the hospital where I spent many hours in the medical day care unit, over the year and a half that I received monthly IVIG infusions, chatting with the nurses and other patients.

The Riverside is smaller than the others, it requires a quicker, more direct bus ride to get there, and it has a little coffee shop on the main floor that makes a great BLT sandwich.

At least it did until four days ago.

I arrived this morning and saw that the coffee shop has closed down. Taped to its doors were signs advertising the cafeteria.

I’ve been coming here almost 15 years and never even knew there was a cafeteria. It’s on the lower level. I never even knew there was a lower level accessible to the public.

Of course I immediately went to check it out. And it felt like every other hospital cafeteria in that strange but familiar way. Posters of health care workers and patients smiling at each other. Cracked vinyl seats on the chairs. Tables place haphazardly around the room. Friendly staff working at the grill and the cashier’s booth. And hospital staff everywhere – buying coffee, debating getting soup, catching up with coworkers, comparing their schedules for the week, teasing each other and rushing off to their next thing.

Here’s my unpopular opinion – I love hospitals.

I love them in a general way- they feel welcoming and safe – but specifically I love catching glimpses of the back side of things.

It’s the same with restaurants. You can go to a restaurant repeatedly but you only ever get the same customer experience unless you get to go behind the scenes. Walk into the kitchen and it’s a whole other place. It’s loud and hot and wild and fun.

Hospitals have their own back side. Typically I get the up front customer experience as a patient. But I love those glimpses into the lives of the people running the place. I’d love to work in a hospital some day to be part of that.

It turns out that the cafeteria also makes great BLT sandwiches.

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