I was recently visiting someone at Southampton General and it struck me that your average teaching hospital and small regional airport are becoming almost identical in terms of visitor attractions. As you walk through the main arrivals ‘lounge’ you bump into Costa Coffee, WH Smiths and most bizarrely of all Burger King. Nothing says ‘Hope you get over your bypass Dad’ like a quarter pounder with cheese.
So it got me thinking about why should a modern hospital be catering to the same behavioral mindset as an airport? The first reason is that the public, whether holiday makers of hospital visitors will eat gummy bears, slurp Venti Grande lattes and gobble burgers at anytime of the day or night irrespective of context.
“I hope Gran recovers from her stroke”
“Don’t worry son have a caramel frappucino”
“Dad, what is a prolapsed rectum?”
“I’ll tell you later son, when you’ve finished your burger”
“What is a colostomy bag Mum?”
“Do you want another Capri Sun, Tracy”
The second reason is because both hospitals and airports need to take your mind off the reality of what is happening behind the scenes. None of us really want to dwell on the dangers of air travel or hospital surgery so if we can hop ourselves up on sugar, fat and e-numbers we can fool our brains that everything will be alright.
What I particularly loved on my visit was trying to actually get some fresh fruit. Naturally you couldn’t buy any fruit in its natural state so the nearest I could find was a fairly disgusting fruit pot from Costa which I could then pick the bits out that looked half way reasonable.
So the next time you’re looking for a holiday experience without the need to book an expensive flight try your local hospital.