Patients Have the Right of Way
Earlier this week I took one of my patients to the hospital lobby so we could work on walking in a distracting environment. There is a world of difference between walking in a relatively controlled environment of the unit and walking in the real world. This time it wasn't the patient being challenged, it was me. I was so shocked by how many people got in my patient's way, I could barely concentrate on helping her.
Back in the day, the patient always got the right of way. It didn't matter how slowly we were walking or how much hall space we took up. People got out of the way. No one got too close. People stood at a respectful distance and waited. I can remember seeing parents holding small children so they wouldn't get in the way. Not anymore.
In the course of a 60-minute treatment, two separate women pushing all terrain strollers nearly knocked my patient over in their efforts to get past. Nearly a dozen people walked right in front of her in their hurry to get to the escalators we were walking toward. One man was so busy on his phone I had to grab her to avoid him. The lobby is huge. There is plenty of room for all of these people to get around us or, as in the case of the stroller women, use a different ramp.
The only obstacle we missed was small children coming out of nowhere to run into us. That happens regularly on the floor. I've been scolded twice by parents for asking their children to stay out of the way while I walked someone. Another woman yelled at me when I asked her child to not play on the training stairs. I was afraid he would get hurt or accidently kick my patient while he was swinging from the handrail. I don't' understand what these people are thinking.
What is going on with these people? It seems like they've forgotten the patient is the reason the hospital exists. My patients are unstable enough without having to run an obstacle course of non-observant pedestrian traffic. At least I hope they're non-observant. I would hate to think these people can see the situation and don't care. Lately the only ones who get out of the way are the doctors and they're the last group I would expect to yield the right of way.
I've had housekeepers move furniture for me. Others have waited with linen carts for us to either pass or get out of the way. Even people pushing huge trash carts will wait for us. Why can't the pedestrians do the same? I can't believe the extra few minutes makes that big of difference to them. I hate to say it. I think the answer lies somewhere between rudeness and lack of consideration. A whole generation of parents didn't teach their children any manners. That is sad.
I realize I take up most of a hall when I have a patient, a chair, a tech, a wheelchair and an assistive device. I know we're moving slowly. Anyone who works with this population knows nothing comes quickly. All I ask is a little patience from everyone else.