I am not going complain about my hospital’s ability to care for you if you need to be cared for. They have great doctors, a huge medical school and research department. They are polite, accommodating, and have more than enough parking — and even though you have to pay for it, it’s not expensive and it’s really convenient, especially when walking isn’t something you are good at.
The University of Massachusetts Hospital, aka UMass, is huge. It has five really big buildings on the main campus and at least four other campuses with multiple huge buildings all up and down route 9 in Worcester. They also have (or used to have — I don’t know what has happened with COVID) the best cafeteria I’ve ever seen in any hospital (and better than most restaurants) including a fine professional fresh Sushi counter.
Like most modern hospitals, once you get into the hospital, finding anything is a matter of luck and bumping into people the hallway who know where something (other than the place they work) is located. This can be a problem. Everyone knows where their own office is, but no one seems to know where anything else is. If it isn’t their specific area, they are as murky about location as you are, which is pretty murky. And therein lies the problem.
New England in general has an issue with signage. There an attitudinal issue that if you don’t know where you are, why are you here? Massachusetts is the worst. There may be signs (MAY be) at intersections, but you can drive for miles and there’s no sign telling you what road you are on. If you stop and ask for directions, inevitably the person you ask isn’t from “around there” and only knows how to get to that place because they work there. They don’t know about anything else. Even in the hospital, if you call and ask where a particular department is, the person on the phone pretty much never knows the answer. They can barely find their way to their own place of work, much less yours.
Like most hospitals, it was planned one way and has expanded well beyond its intended size and capacity. New departments have been added hither and yon, wherever a space could be found for them and many are divided between multiple buildings. Garry’s hearing department is in two separate buildings and two different campuses. The Cardiac Department is on two floors and your doctor may work on either one, depending on the day.
There are parking garages everywhere and long sidewalks between buildings. A trip to UMass can be a lot of walking for someone who isn’t a good walker. And now, with COVID, they won’t let both of you into the doctor’s office at the same time.
Today I realized that what they REALLY need at UMass are signs. There aren’t even signs on the front of each building telling you what is in that building. The main building on the main campus must have a dozen departments in it, including the day hospital for minor (and not so minor) surgery. The Cardiac unit is tucked into the end of a building built for research, and it’s a long walk from the elevator. Nowhere is there a sign pointing you or your car in the right direction.
I do not have a sense of direction. I am permanently lost, on foot and in the car. Even though I’ve been in that building at least three times before, I can never find it and always wind up in the research department or Medical School.
I am lobbying for signs. You can buy them in the hardware department of Home Depot or Lowe’s. Or Ace. Wherever stuff for homes is sold, they have signs. Give me a hundred dollars and I’ll buy the signs and a roll of duct tape. I’ll go all around the campus and put up signs everywhere. If they want to get fancy, they can — when they are feeling flush. In the meantime, I want arrows pointing me to the building where the cardiac unit is. To each building’s valet parking. I want arrows telling me which elevators go to which floors AND what I will find when I get to that floor. I want signs telling me where to find the door that goes to my valet parking or garage.
I told them: “You buy the signs. I’ll bring duct tape!” I was there for close to an hour before I finally discovered my doctor’s department and fortunately, the doctor still in it. I want signs. Arrows. Information. Please?