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No Vacancy

Joan Robertson


NO VACANCY is a reflection by Joan Robertson, a member of our Mornington congregation and recently appointed as a Parish Steward. We encourage other Parish members to reflect on day to day experience as Joan does on the inestimable value of a hospital in any community in the world. Thanks Joan.


There are no glitzy signs outside, but there is hardly ever a vacancy: beds emptied in the morning are filled in the afternoon.

It’s not the Hyatt or the Regency, that’s obvious. The building is rather drab on the outside, and, inside, the decor could do with a makeover. There’s not a queen bed in the place, and the suites are Quadruple share! There’s no guest email access, and there’s only Channel One on the TV..

True, the room service is excellent, meals can be delivered right to your bed, and the staff are friendly and helpful even though they are often very busy. And from the upper floors there are some great views of the city and harbour.

And they say it’s not at all a cheap facility. The strange thing is that the money has gone into providing expensive equipment that the average guest may not even get to see. They may see something of the operating theatre’s newest technology through blurring eyes, or be monitored on some fancy piece of machinery, but by and large the attractions of the place seem minimal.

Until you need to be there, that is. A few weeks ago, I did need to be there. A planned appointment for a day procedure at our local public hospital (which came with an “invitation” to come prepared to stay the night!) led to a five-night extended visit. Once again, as on previous visits, both planned and unplanned, I found my stay an interesting experience, full of tragedy and comedy, annoyances, pain, and heaps of love…

In brief:
Hospital is being looked after and cared for.
Hospital is watching nurses cheerfully performing distasteful tasks you had almost forgotten doing when you had little children.
Hospital is getting to know three complete strangers, or more, with whom you share a room, and also, their families and friends.
Hospital is patient tea-makers gently inquiring of deaf or forgetful patients if they want tea or coffee, and do they take milk and sugar with that.
Hospital is caring nurses multi-multi-tasking and still remembering to bring the extra pillow for Mrs P.
Hospital is blood-tests in the middle of the night.
Hospital is gifts of grapes, and remembering the old Punch cartoon of three patients up and out of bed after the visitors have departed. With night shirts lifted up, and slippers kicked off, they gleefully stomp the grapes…
Hospital is making friends.
Hospital is waiting for your doctor’s visit.
Hospital is being there while your neighbour hears bad news.
Hospital is family visiting with clean laundry, and magazines, but no flowers, thank you.
Hospital is, for most “guests” a healing experience, but for all, it is caring and heaps of love.



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