Sunday, January 25, 2015
In with the New, Missing the old
It is a big week in San Francisco. The new UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital (UCSF/BCH), as well as a woman's hospital and a cancer hospital are open for business on February 1. The project has been in the works for many many years. I have been involved in it for about the last nine years as a member of the Family Advisory Council at UCSF.
This is a big deal for this City. While there have certainly been remodels of existing hospitals over the years, I do not recall a brand new hospital (let alone THREE) opening in San Francisco in my lifetime. There will be lots of news coverage regarding this. I have already been interviewed by the SF Chronicle and will participate in a a press conference on Thursday. This is not the norm for me and it is a bit exhilarating.
But with one door opening, another closes. The current site of UCSF/BCH on Parnassus Ave will remain, but the Children's Hospital, which is located on three of the fifteen floors of that building, won't be part of it. There's a lot of Maggie in that building. The place she received her care, the place her life ended will have a different role now.
Strange as it may seem, it feels like a little bit of a loss to me. Don't get me wrong, the new hospital is fantastic and will make things so much easier for patients and families. But there are so many memories in those hallways, some of them horrible, some of them great. It was a huge part of our life because so much of our life was spent there.
I work at the hospital two days a week and will move to the new hospital. People recognize that saying goodbye to Parnassus is difficult for many staff members. Folks were invited to take part in a video/slide show holding up a sign saying what they would miss. I saw signs that said things like "the fantastic views"(they are awesome) or "Sunday morning Bagels" or whatever other things. They were sweet. Though I'm certain it would have been welcome, I'm not sure any sign I might have held would have had the same light tone.
With all the loss we've experienced, this hospital move is really small potatoes. It is only a place where so many memories were made. The memories are still there, but the place will be different. But I have learned the importance of recognizing loss and its role.
I will miss Parnassus. Maggie spent time in every single room on 6Long or in either of the two PICU units at one point or another. My sons would spend time in there doing (or not doing) homework. They would play with the gloves and head down to the cafeteria to see how big they could make an Ice cream cone only to find out they charged by weight. (I think they are the only ones to make an $8 ice cream cone in the 90's). Steve would sneak wine for us to share while we ate takeout around Maggie's bed. Maggie learned how to operate the bed and would make it go up and down even in her sickest days.
All of those memories will be relegated to the history of the building. No one there will remember Maggie or know any of us. New and better things are coming for the patients, but the history won't go with them. It is a bit like losing an old friend - or maybe more like saying goodbye to a teacher you didn't really like, but respected because you learned so much in that class.
Though ignorance is bliss, I definitely learned a lot in that place.