Japanese Hospital Life

Let’s say this right up front, I found the Showa University hospital (Yokohama branch) where I stayed for five nights because of my sinus/jaw infection to be very good.
The sixth floor was for ENT plus “general” if that’s the word, including cases of very old people who are heavy nursing cases. How do I know that? Because all doors to the sick rooms are open 24/7. The building is laid out like a triangle. On the long side are five-bed rooms, on the angle sides are four-bed rooms. At either end the angle sides overshoot the long side and there are a few private rooms, which cost 25,000 yen per night instead of 5000 yen per night, and they are the only rooms whose doors are closed. In both cases, add another ten percent VAT to the price. All beds in all rooms are surrounded by curtains. The four-bed rooms on the triangle’s flanks have a very nice star layout which gives each bed a window. In the five-bed rooms only two people are lucky enough to have a window. I heard the five-bed rooms are cheaper than 5000 Yen per day but I don’t know how much cheaper.
In German hospitals no curtains. In hindsight I find the curtains great, because they give you a bit of privacy and you don’t have to be conscious of other people seeing you all the time. If you’re really sick you wanna be left alone anyway (on my first day for example). Once you are better, you can wander around and go to the so called day-room for visitors and for using the phone or getting a soft drink from the vending machine. The day room is at the tip of the triangle. In the center of the triangle are the two nurse stations for the wards 6a and 6b.
The heavy-care rooms are facing the nurse station, and some guys had their curtains open, therefore I know what was going on there. Except for the heavy-nursing cases, everyone else was still able to walk around. Average age maybe 60 and I was the only non-Japanese I saw the whole time.
What I found remarkable is that all nurses were under 35 or even under 30. My guess is the more experienced nurses are in other floors where the patients are sicker. A few male nurses were around too, but not so many. All ENT doctors I saw were also very young, all of them under forty. Only on my first day, three doctors came by to say hello who were older and who looked like the head doctors of the ENT department. All nurses were exceptionally friendly and careful. The young doctors were eager and ready to help, only one woman among them, but better than no woman at all. The nurses make their tours with their rolling wagons crowned with their almighty computers and scan the wrist band you got before every load of medicine. You are allowed to go downstairs to the convenient store and coffee shop even with your infusion stand, but you are not allowed to go outside.
Since all sick room doors are open, you hear a lot of what’s going on. One night one of the heavy-nursing cases was screaming a bit, the guy in the next room had a bad cough. There was one sad/funny scene in the corridor. An elderly male patient sat in a wheelchair, his visiting wife by his side and a nurse. He wanted to get up. The nurse told him he can’t, he’ll break his legs if he tries to get up. Grandpa still wanted to get up until his unnerved wife told him to do the bloody hell what the nurse was saying and grandpa gave in with a grumble.
I found this mixture of exposure to what’s happening around you and the curtain shield quite interesting.
When I was admitted there were two ladies in my four-bed room, one looked like a thyroid case, the other I don’t know. Except for greetings I did not communicate with them. After two nights one lady was released from the hospital and the other with the thyroid operation was moved to a cheaper five-bed room apparently upon her request. For a few hours I was alone, but then they brought in another lady and from the next day onward we actually started chatting to each other. I didn’t catch for 100 percent what was wrong with her, some heavy case of tonsillitis where her throat swelled shut? She was very eager to get out of hospital. She had no husband around but a 15-year-old daughter who was now alone at home, and she also had to work, (as a home nursing helper) saying she had no money to stay in hospital for long… I’m sure she is insured, since everyone here is, but it costs a couple hundred USD to stay for a few days after all and that’s tough especially when you are a single parent… life is hard, being sick is even harder! I wish my room mate lady all the best and that we don’t have to return to hospital any time soon because of a certain virus for example!

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