An anecdote about health care, uneven technology use, and Vermont

I was in a central Vermont hospital waiting room yesterday.  Around the large room ten people were quietly sitting.

Then an older woman was wheeled in from surgery of some kind, looking good, if tired. She stared at the room, then loudly demanded, “Why isn’t the tv on?” The person wheeling her around – an attendant? a minder? – meekly found the tv, flipped it on, and quietly handed the patient a remote control. “And no news!” the wheelchair-bound woman added.

Some kind of talk show blared forth. All people in the waiting room turned to watch.  Several eventually disengaged, while the rest remained fixed on the screen, even while standing.

Porter hospital waiting room TV

Not a single cell phone, tablet, or laptop was visible, nor were they prohibited in this space.

Ninety minutes later I and one other person were the only people remaining in the waiting room.  The other person, a middle aged woman, had seated herself as far from the tv screen as possible, and was reading a book with great attention.  I took it upon myself to track down the remote and turn off the tv.  The reader looked up at me from across the room, smiled, and added a quiet “thank you.”

“The future is already here, just unevenly distributed.”

-William Gibson

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2 Responses to An anecdote about health care, uneven technology use, and Vermont

  1. Ted says:

    I had a similar experience in a car dealer a month or two ago when getting the car serviced. I and another customer were sitting in the waiting room, TV off, both reading. An employee walked in, asked if either of us needed a ride, and when we both declined, turned on the TV to a news channel. I wandered off in search of a quiet spot to continue reading, and a helpful employee led me to a conference room. A few minutes later, I saw the other customer find a spot in a different room from the TV. When I left 30 or 45 minutes later, the only ones in the waiting room were employees watching TV.

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