Since I married a doctor while he was still a med student rotating from specialty to specialty, I've been in plenty of hospitals. Among them, VA hospitals. Most of those are enormously sad; dark, often smelly and grim, especially compared to private institutions. And we all read those terrible stories about Walter Reed Medical Center.
So, much as I love our friend, (we'll call him Fred here) I dreaded my visit to him yesterday; dreaded entering the kind of public hospital environment I knew from our years in New York. Boy was I wrong. The DC VA seems to be sunny, with lots of windows, very nice people, well-informed volunteers and committed and apparently knowledgeable medical staff. Even the guards were nice. Granted, Fred is so lovable, well into his 70s, that it would be tough to be mean, or even impatient, with him, but believe me, harried hospital staff can be, well, brusque. Not here.
I didn't do an expose, go examine day rooms or rehab floors, food services or ICUs but from my limited exploration, and the karma in the lobby and the halls, reception by volunteers, charge nurses, orderlies, other patients and even the doctors, it was, for a hospital, a pretty good place to be. No big news bulletins, but when there's so much bad news out there about how our veterans are treated, this is just a little bit of the better.