At our hospital, there are a lot of bare feet. There are also a lot of open-toed shoes worn by medical professionals. Lastly, there are special close-toed shoes you can put on if you are going into the operating room.
At our hospital, there are sometimes goats. Not big ones usually, but little black goats, inside the hospital grounds, skipping in between the buildings. Someone is usually following them, to get them out. But they are there nonetheless.
At our hospital, there is no parking lot. This is because there are remarkably few cars. Most people arrive at the hospital by walking. If they cannot walk, they will sit on a bicycle, while their family pushes it, or maybe be carried in a hand-made litter with poles.
At our hospital, jeans are “dress clothes,” because they are fancy, I guess. I’m not arguing.
At our hospital, the nurses will sit outside the pediatrics ward to work on putting a new IV in a child, because it’s simply not well-lit enough inside.
At our hospital, we needed to check a lady for protein in the urine, but we had run out of test strips in the lab. Then we remembered that another patient of ours had bought some test strips for his diabetes (from a nearby town), and those strips checked both sugar and protein in the urine. So our diagnostic plan for the day was to ask the second patient if he wouldn’t mind giving one of his strips to the first patient to check for protein. He didn’t mind at all.
At our hospital, there are not many shops in the neighborhood, but you can buy scratch cards to add minutes to your mobile phone. The story is that, a while ago, a certain woman was brought to the hospital paralyzed and then abandoned by her family. In the face of this difficult situation, the hospital eventually decided to give her one of the private patient rooms, which is where she now lives, invariably in good spirits, earning her living by selling mobile phone minutes, 30 cents at a time, for honestly a pretty steep rate, but hey, she’s got a corner on the market.
Pretty much all of these distinctives are the result, directly or indirectly, or poverty or scarcity, and our attempts to live life in the face of it. And there are disadvantages to each of them (e.g. there are reasons why US hospitals required closed-toe shoes), and if all goes well, I imagine some of these things will change.
However, there is a humanizing informality about all these things, as well. There is a redemption in the response to the scarcity that creates a home-ness, a sense of “our hospital.”