As long-time HealthBeat readers know, I have some reservations about hospitals plunging huge sums into plush hotel-like amenities—spas, gourmet food, marble lobbies, mahogany-paneled doctors’ lounges . . .. See “Who Will Pay for the Waterfalls?”
I tend to think that hospitals should plow any extra money into programs that will protect patients: infection control, electronic medical records that would prevent medication mix-ups, and so on.
But patients can’t see these improvements. And in competitive urban and suburban markets (where, typically, too many hospitals are vying for well-insured patients) hospital CEOs know that the cosmetic improvements appeal to upscale, well-insured patients.
In recent years, as hospital competition has become more desperate, some hospitals have taken the amenities race to yet another level. Thanks to HealthBeat reader Brad F. for calling my attention to a story on Boston.com which reports on recent “luxury” improvements to Boston-area hospitals.
For instance, Boston.com reports, Newton-Wellesley Hospital has added 48 new private rooms that Dr. Michael Jellinek, the hospital’s president describes as magnificent: “They are larger, very airy and all have nice big windows.”
Moreover, these private rooms have, not one thin-screen television, but two. One for the patient, and you guessed it, “one for the visitors.”
Keep in mind that, these days, most inpatients are pretty sick. (If you’re having a simple procedure, such as knee surgery, you are normally treated in the outpatient clinic and sent home.)
Imagine that you are an in-patient who has undergone a major procedure; you may be pretty tired, you may be in pain. But when a relative or friend comes to visit, you’re grateful.
Consider how you would feel if, after talking for 10 or 20 minutes, your visitor looks around, and asks: “Hey, should we turn on the TV?”
“Sure,” you say. You don’t really care. You are exhausted.
Twenty minutes later, your brother-in-law comes into the room. “Sue is coming later . . . so how are you doing?” He notices your other visitor: “Aren’t you watching The Game?”
Within ten minutes, your brother-in-law has settled into The Game on the second TV.
Two televisions are now broadcasting into your room, keeping your visitors entertained. No doubt, they will tell everyone they know that this is a First-Class hospital.
And this is supposed to be restful?