Believe it or not, given what a hassle airports have been lately, this is a good thing. Well, not entirely a good thing, there was one bad thing, which I'll get to below, but otherwise, I was pretty impressed.
So here's the set-up. I accompanied someone to the hospital this week for what they call "Ambulatory Surgery," aka "Day Surgery." It was a major procedure because it required general anesthesia, but it was non-invasive, so it wouldn't require an overnight stay if all went well.
The procedure was a laryngoscopy with a an injection. The anesthesia was because it was extremely delicate and had to be done just right, and they couldn't risk even the slightest movement once the patient was on the table. But once it was done right, it's actually just a tiny thing. Nevertheless, both the patient and I were somewhat anxious, she, because she's petrified of general anesthesia, and me, because, well, there's no such thing as a "minor" procedure at that age, as both Andy Rooney and Dick Clark recently demonstrated.
So we show up to check in with both of us a little nervous. The lady at the desk performs her standard checklist and when she gets to the general anesthesia part she asks, "Oh, you need someone accompanying. Are they on call or will they be in the waiting room?" I pipe up, so she checks my name and relation to patient on the forms, then hands me the card reproduced on the right.
"Huh?" The lady points over our shoulders and says to watch the monitor.
Turns out, they have a system so family members in the waiting room can follow the progress of the surgery which works just like an airport waiting room. We walked from the check-in desk and looked up at the monitor:
We matched up the number on the "Boarding Pass" with the number on the "Arrival Monitor," the color code was correct (white), then we followed along when the lady led us to pre-op. After a while they kicked me out, of course, and I went back to the waiting room to do what that room was designed for. Within a few seconds of the scheduled start time the color switched from pink to green. Damn, thought I, that's really cool.
Nothing else to do in the meantime, so I amused myself on the internet, keeping an eye on the monitor, until my phone rang 45 minutes later with my sister asking how things were going. "Oh, I said, she's in the procedure right now . . . no, wait . . . they just finished as you called and now they're bringing her to."
How do you know that? my sister asked, "You in the room?"
"Nope," I replied, "They have this monitor in the waiting room so you can follow progress and just when you called it turned from green to yellow, so they're finished. I'll call ya back when I hear from them in person." About five minutes later, just as I was thinking, oh, this actually sucks because I know they're finished and now most people--including me--will expect the doctor to come to talk to us, the doctor came out to talk to me. So that was really cool, too.
In a little while, sure enough, the color changed from yellow to purple so I knew she was in Recovery, and then, a couple of minutes after that, the funniest thing happened. Not only did they inform me she was in recovery, but, exactly like at the airport when you're waiting for someone but you don't exactly where to go yet until they add the gate assignment, the monitor added her room number.
That I positively giggled at, then a bit later the nurse came out and led me to the recovery room. The procedure went just as planned and we left a few hours later relieved and satisfied and my trip to the airport was over.
Oh. Almost forgot. The one bad thing about this system. Me. I was very bad. When the lady handed me the Boarding Pass and I looked over my shoulder and noticed the monitor and realized I was in an airport, well, you know how you're not supposed to joke about bombs and stuff at an airport?
Well, I started to make the most morbid, tasteless and obvious joke you can possibly imagine in those circumstances, namely, "What color does it turn when the patient dies?"
But then I realized that not only did my Mother raise me to have good manners, but she was two feet away and sure to teach me them all over again like she did the first time, so I kept my mouth discreetly shut. Until now.