I have always had a dreaded fear of hospitals, just the thought of all the depressed people finding out that their loved ones are terminally ill always repelled me. So, when my sister asked me to accompany her to her appointment to have her permacath for dialysis put in, I wanted to scream ?No?. Instead I decided this would be a prime time to do my ethnography. At the corner of Marshall Street and 13th street stands an eight story beige cement building And Virginia Commonwealth University in big black and gold letters.As we made our way up to the fourth floor waiting room I find my mind racing with preconceptions of skinny sick people, with dull complexions, crying family members, and a thick sense of dread filling the room. Ironically, these misconceptions that a lot of people have of illness and hospitals are what caused me to choose this waiting room as a place to do my research. On August 17, 2012 as I entered the waiting room at 8:45am my preconceptions still stood strong as we were the first ones there besides a few nurses, doctors, and receptionist that we say getting ready to start the day. As we walked through the waiting room I positioned myself at the second column in front of the receptionist office so that way I could observe all the people coming in and out and their conversations.
Around 9:00am everything started to change as an African American family came in named Myers. The mother was approximately between the ages of 45 and 55 and wearing a denim romper and orange t-shirt. She was accompanied by her daughter who was between the age of 18 and 25 and wore a dark blue and neon green shirt with black skinny jeans and white sneakers. After they signed in at reception they sat down approximately two seats to our left. As they started to talk about what was going on in their lives in a vague attempt to preoccupy them in the sterile environment. Not long after another family comes in. Mr. Pulling arrives in his blue and white striped shirt and black slacks and his wife in her flowery blouse and blue jeans. As they sign in at reception and cordially greet the staff in reception. They then sit down and Mrs. Pulling proceeds to take out a crossword puzzle book for her husband and an Ipad for herself. Next comes in the Wright?s a Caucasian male who is over weight being pushed in by his daughter who is wearing a multi colored shirt and blue jeans. At ten o?clock a nice Caucasian nurse with blonde hair in her early twenties pops around the corner in black scrubs and starts to call names off of a list she holds in her hand on a clipboard, ?Mrs. Cook, Mr. Wright, Mr. Pulling, and Mrs. Garcia please follow me your beds are ready?. My sister stands up and slowly hands me her keys and says see you in four hours. As I look around I see everyone else doing something somewhat similar. The room is filled with a sense of dread as well as relief at almost being able to leave and go home.
After the patients left the mood seemed to lighten as if we all felt we couldn?t enjoy our selves with our family members being ill. The Myers girl asked Mrs. Pullings about her Ipad and Mrs.Pullings moved closer to her and the conversations seem to take on new light and enjoyment during the first hour everyone there talked about how expensive everything was at the hospital, how long it takes for dialysis, and even how they were waiting for transplants for their relatives. At twelve o?clock the lunch rush began and we began to see three nurses and two Doctor?s pile out of the surgery suite going to the elevator to go to the cafeteria. They walk pass completely focused on their phones and talking to the other doctors and nurses next to them. Everyone then turns their attention back to their phones and distraction materials and the television. Until it was time to go home and dialysis was over.
August 20, 2012 10:12am we arrived late to my sister?s dialysis treatment. As we walk into the waiting room we see a lot of the same faces Mrs. Wright this time in a green t-shirt and jeans. As I walked into the waiting room I was greeted by Mrs. Pulling and Mr. Garcia with a ?hello?. They both were talking about a recent wave of crime that had hit Richmond. For some reason everyone was more excited than there usually dreary selves and how happy they were that this days dialysis treatment would only take two hours. At about 11:05am a couple I had not seen came into the room. The Bhavnagar?s where of Indian ancestry a female between the ages of 60 and 70 years of age in a wheel chair. She wore a green Kurti and Harem pants with goldish brown accents. She was accompanied by her what appeared to be her son a male about 30-35 years of age. He was wearing a pair of black slacks and a dress shirt. He kept looking at his watch and pacing the floor. They were accompanied by a female between the ages of 20 and 30 years old and were in her last trimester of pregnancy. She was dressed in a red Kurti and harem pants with gold accents at the neckline and ankles. As they entered the room went quiet and went from telling jokes and boisterous talking to whispers and nods. As if they where afraid of the new arrivals to the group.
Their where many differences between this dialysis facility and others I have been to at this facility it took less time for dialysis do to less frequent breakdown of the machines. It also was more hygienic but less friendly than others I have been to. The patients as well as family members where treated with respect at all times. Patients and the health care professionals had a division amongst them. Even though the health care professionals where respectful and smiled at the patients as well as their family. No one would chat with them on a friendly basis when several of the healthcare professionals came and ate their lunch in the waiting room no one spoke to them, patients in their general area would get up and move to different locations. When a man of Pacific Islander ancestry who worked on the maintance crew came in and ate lunch there he was greeted and a conversation was held with him. It was difficult because I was taught to not listen to other peoples conversations I was also worried about if someone would catch me writing about their conversations and appearance.
August 17, 2012 8:15am to 10:45am
Myers -African American female between the ages of 18-25 years old dark blue and neon green shirt with black pants and white sneakers. She comes in with older African American female between 45-55 years of age who was wearing a denim romper dress with an orange shirt.
Caucasian nurse in her mid-20 with blonde hair and black scrubs comes goes in to offices.
Pulling- Caucasian Male about 60-70 years of age gray hair 6 ft tall blue and white horizontal stripped shirt and black slacks. He comes in with Caucasian female between ages of 50-60 years of age she stands substantially shorter than he she has short brown hair and is wearing a pair of blue denim jeans and a flowery blouse and carrying two lunch bags and a bag full of crosswords, an Ipad, and work.
Wright- Caucasian male between the ages of 60-70 years of age morbidly obese in a wheel chair. with oxygen. He is wearing blue shorts and a blue shirt. He is pushed up by his daughter a female who is between the ages of 35-40. She is wearing a Coogi multi colored t-shirt and tight blue jeans. She has tattoos on her left arm.
Jackson- Receptionist African American female in 20?s wore red top and black suit.
Holcomb- Receptionist Caucasian female she wore yellow MCV button down blouse and black slacks in late 40?s to mid 50?s.
Banks- Caucasian male between the ages of 70-80. wearing a white button down and khaki pants. He is accompanied by a woman between the ages of.
Dr. Gheer- Kidney specialist Caucasian male wore teal green doctor?s scrubs.
Al-Fayyoumi- Is an Middle eastern man in his 40-50?s he was wearing an dress shirt and slacks and is an doctor of endoscopy at the Alvin W. Zheiss endoscopy suite at MCV hospital.
August 20, 2012 11:12am-2:00pm
Wrights- Mrs Wright is wearing a green t-shirt and a long blue denim dress
Jackson- Receptionist wore a black slacks and a sleeveless pink top
Pulling- Mrs. Pulling is wearing a yellow t-shirt and black denim pants
Holcomb- Receptionist white polo and black slacks
Garcia- man of Hispanic descent between the age of late 20?s to mid-30?s. He wore a red t-shirt and blue denim jeans she wore a red and white t-shirt and blue denim jeans.
Banks- male wearing pale blue button down dress shirt and black slacks
Female wearing black sundress with red rose print
Dr. Gheer- Teal green doctors scrub
Al-Fayyoumi- White dress shirt and black dress slacks
Qian- Nurse light blue scrubs
Zhou- black scrubs
Qian- Asian Nurse in her mid 30?s at the hemodialysis unit she wore a set of light blue hospital scrubs with a white paper apron on top.
Zhou- Asian male nurse black scrubs
Kang- Asian intern teal scrubs female
Bhatnagar Indian female between the ages of 60-70 years of age in an wheel chair she wore a green Kurti and haram pants with goldish brown accents. She was accompanied by her son a male between 30-40 years of age wearing a white dress shirt and black slacks. They where also accompanied by a female between the ages of 30-40 years of age who was in her third trimester of pregnancy and was wearing a red Kurti and haram pants with gold accents along the neck line and leg of the pants.
Muhammad-African American male between 20-30 years of age he wore a egg shell white shalwar kameez and a kufi. His wife also African American was between 20-30 years of age wore a middle eastern black Thobe with gold accents around the neck line and hijab .they were accompanied by two children little girls ages four years old and eighteen months. They wore pink and white stripped dresses.