When people in health services are pleasant and friendly, it changes our whole attitude

By Fr. Michael Commane - The Way I See It

Published 26/05/2015 | 00:00

Fr Michael Commane
Fr Michael Commane

On Thursday I went to visit a school friend, who is in hospital. He's a patient in the Mater Public Hospital in Dublin.

It's some time since I had been in the hospital so I took a bus to Dorset Street and walked up Eccles Street, passing the Mater Private Hospital and walked up the short entrance to the public hospital. To my surprise there was no reception desk, at least I didn't see one.

I was getting a little irritated. It's a busy hospital with plenty of people coming and going. I saw a woman carrying a large bundle of files. I stopped her and asked her where the reception was. At times, even unbeknownst to myself I may sound a little harsh or abrasive. Once I asked the women, she then asked me where I wanted to go in the hospital. I told her I was visiting a patient. She politely brought me to a small office, turned on a computer, keyed in her password, asked me the name of the patient and gave me the information for which I was looking. And she did all that in the friendliest and politest manner. She then explained to me that the main reception area had moved to the new building on North Circular Road.

I was greatly taken with her kindness. She was a busy woman, carrying files. She could so easily have been as snooty as I was but instead she was friendly and kind.

That was not my only experience of kindness on my visit. Later I was looking for a toilet. Again I asked a member of staff and she duly directed me to the said place. I noticed there was no sign on the door designating it as a toilet. So when I was finished I went back to the lady and explained that it would be difficult to know that it was a toilet. Later passing the door I spotted a toilet sign had been placed on the door. On the hospital ward a nurse was extremely kind to me.

I've been thinking about the experiences. What it means when people are pleasant and friendly to us. It changes our whole attitude. At least it does mine. Indeed, I might well be a very subjective person but I have a sneaky suspicion we all are. Surely we are all influenced by how people treat us. If people are nice to us we will respond accordingly.

I have been telling people about my experience in the Mater and certainly I have a different attitude towards it now than I had before my visit on Thursday. And my God, does the opposite hold true too. When people are nasty and abusive to us it's most likely we respond accordingly.

The world needs a little bit more kindness. It is estimated that worldwide there are about 600,000 violent deaths annually and 340,000 of these are thought to be at the end of a gun. It is estimated there are over one billion guns in the world and 12 billion bullets are produced every year. Give me kindness over guns any day.

It turns out that the main reception for the Mater Public Hospital is now in the Whitty Building on North Circular Road. The new building is called after Mercy Sister, Mother Mary Vincent Whitty (1819 - 1892) and was opened in June 2012. Mother Mary Vincent worked with Catherine McAuley in Baggot Street and was later involved in the planning of the Mater Hospital. The new building is an expansive clean-cut and most attractive structure.

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