Friday, November 23, 2012

Silence, Please! (SOS for Maternida de Linea Hospital

Silence, Please! (SOS for Maternida de Linea Hospital) / Rebeca Monzo
Rebeca Monzo, Translator: Unstated

I got up a dawn to go to America Arias Hospital, more commonly known as
Maternidad de Linea. I was there to accompany a friend who had gone to
terminate a pregnancy. Just like everyone else, she had been given an
appointment for 7:30 in the morning.

This beautiful Art Deco hospital, designed by the architects Govantes
and Cabarroca with some Romanesque-inspired influences, still retains a
few of its original light fixtures which denote the year of its
construction, 1930. Notable also are the beautiful granite floors with
their motifs of contrasting colors. The wonderful stained glassskylight,
in danger of being lost, still bathes the walls with soft pastel light,
while the allegorical sculpture depicting motherhood on the first floor
stands in front the main entrance to the building.

In the large waiting room, whose entrance faces H Street, we found
ourselves among a large group of patients and those accompanying them,
who had been there since early in the morning. The murmur of voices was
growing, filling up the space. Suddenly, a deafening noiselike the roar
of an enginewas heard coming from the adjoining the room. This caused
those present to raise their voices in order to be heard to the point
that the noise became unbearable. Then, the scrawny woman in a
custodian's uniform, who was supposedly keeping order in the place,
shouted, "Quiet in the room!"

I had to keep from laughing. I went up to her and quietly asked, "How is
it you are asking people to be quiet when in the other room there is a
noise that sounds like it is coming from an airplane?" She smiled and
said, "They are doing some construction and what you are hearing is
equipment removing the debris."

I looked through the glass door to the other room and was astonished to
see an artifact that looked like a small tractor sliding with great
effort over those wonderful floors and almost grazing the central
columns of the main entrance.

At that moment a young woman dressed in a denim mini-skirt, that covered
her only just above the legs, and a short tank top, that left her ample
midsection and an odd tattoo right above her tailbone exposed,made an
appearance to ask the ultrasound patients for their referral papers. "An
odd look for a hospital," I thought.

Motivated by the delay and the wait, I decided to go the the hospital's
management to complain about the noise and rude treatment, and to offer
some suggestions regarding the inappropriate attire of some of the
hospital's workers. Judging by the look on the face of the director's
secretary, my complaint was not well received. As a justification she
told me they were doing as best as they could considering that there was
reconstruction taking place so that they could continue providing
services not only to their patients, but also to other hospitals in the
area, which were experiencing similar problems. She told me to file a
written complaint with my name, address and ID card number, to which I
responded that she could count on it.

Finally, at 11 AM a nurse popped into the waiting room to inform
everyone that she was sorry, but that the exams would be further delayed
because there was only one anesthesiologist in the entire hospital, and
at that moment he was in surgery. After an hour they began to let in the
restless and nervous patients based on their order they had arrived.

The uniformed woman blocked the door so that those accompanying the
patients could not enter the exam area. Then began the skirmish to offer
small gifts such as packages of cigarettes and little "empanadas de
enfrente" in hopes they would be the key to get through the barricaded door.

Armed with empanadas and other treats, I managed to get to the second
floor, where the procedures are carried out, in order to lend moral
support to the patient like the other friends and family members who
were doing the same, offering moral support to our patient. There I
observed that approximately a third of the beautiful facility was closed
off with signs saying "closed due to danger of collapse." It also pained
me to see how the construction workers mistreated the floors, carelessly
dropping their heavy tools.

Nervously, I watched the coming and going of the only wheelchair, that
was missing the foot supports and the rubber rims on the wheels, being
used to bring out the patients who were coming out of the anesthesia.
Finally, the creaking rhythm of that chair revealed my friend, who,
happily, was responding well and recovering quickly from that painful
mishap. The complete of our beautiful architectural heritage, which we
left behind and whose abuse I witnessed for many hours.

November 19 2012

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