Hospitals Are Not Restaurants

A Blank List photo: jparadisi 2012

My horoscope says today is a good day for diversion, but I disagree. This is one of those mornings I wake up with a to do list forming in my head, which means I am already behind. One of the things on the list is writing this post. Be charitable as you read it; I haven’t finished my coffee yet.

This feeling of being behind before the day begins is familiar in our home. David, a hospital pharmacist, and I work the same weekends, and this weekend we both worked the Saturday, Sunday, Monday stretch. For some reason, all hospitals I’m familiar with staff units lighter on weekends: no unit secretary, linens are not delivered, IT support is unavailable. Pharmacy has less support, meaning nursing waits for medications to arrive; everything slows down.

This mindset is a puzzlement. Why would weekends be more or less busy in a hospital than any other day of the week as if they are restaurants?  I’ve worked in food service. For restaurants, happy hours and dinners are consistently busier on Fridays and Saturdays than weekdays. Restaurants catering to the business lunch crowd are understandably busier Monday through Fridays.

People do not schedule how sick they are going to be according to the day of the week.

Granted, most doctors’ offices are closed, and surgeries are usually not scheduled on weekends. I get that. However, this leads to the proviso that people who are admitted for hospitalization are too critical to wait until Monday for surgery or treatment. Trauma and sepsis do not wait until the doctor is in. They keep the weekend health care team pretty damn busy.

I’m not complaining, just pointing out a reality of life in health care, by way of explaining today, our first day off, both David and I are feeling a little frazzled. The evidence of this is on our dining room table. Rather than a place for a leisurely, home cooked meal, over the weekend it has become a catchall for the implements of our trades: his messenger bag, my tote. Both of our notebooks charge quietly, their green LED lights reflected in the luster of the table’s finish. Valentine’s Day cards, still without a permanent home, remain on the table.  Although our home is a disorganized mess, there is love.

We’re out of food though. Add a grocery store run to the to do list.


  1. My husband is a Fire fighter/ EMT, I am a nurse and agree with you 100%, so glad our “catchalls” and homes look the same!


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