Our local hospital ERs compete for customers by advertising wait time. But a visit to a British Accident and Emergency Department (as they call it), convinced me there are better ways to make this often harrowing experience more user friendly.
As friend Terry made me realize (having spent all night in the ER when his wife had pneumonia, as it took that long to get X-ray results, then a bed), the advertised wait time until first seen is a bit of a joke.
But when I went to the A&E Department of University College Hospital in London with my brother-in-law, Olly, when he was having heart problems, there was solace provided by what I have often told people about, but was worried was just a sentimental memory from the old days.
As I sat there with Olly, anxious and bored, and in need of some kind of comfort, this apparition appeared. Like an angel of mercy she came. Like Mary Seacole must have appeared to the wounded soldiers on the battlefield at the siege of Sebastopol.
Slowly there appeared a large trolley, clattering with tea cups, pushed by a genial lady in a house coat, with a giant pot of tea and some ginger-snap biscuits for the likes of us as we waited.
I was gratified to see that such a source of homely comfort was still to be had in a bustling high-tech temple of modern medicine.