It’s puzzling… it’s perplexing… it’s Passavant

By Ken Bradbury

No, no, no. This is not a medical investigation, a criticism of Passavant or anything of the sort. I had the good fortune to spend a few days as a patient in our local hospital, and yes, I said “good fortune.” I would defy anyone anywhere to find a more efficient and hospitable hospital than what we have in our own backyard and I have nothing but praise and admiration for everyone from the doctors to the little gal who dusted my floor each morning. But….let’s face it. That makes for some pretty dull narrative, so I’ll instead describe a few of the quirks, the eccentricities, the …well…mysteries of Passavant.

Like….THE DINNER GUEST SENSOR. When you recline in bed with nothing but re-runs of the Danny Thomas Show and Gomer Pyle for several hours you get hungry. Either the Passavant food is unusually good or I was abnormally famished, so even though I was a bit ill I looked forward to meal time. But somewhere hidden deep under the floorboards of the Passavant hallways are sensors that are triggered by the hot food cart. These sensing devices send rapid and unseen signals to visitors down in the lobby, indicating the arrival of your dinner and within seconds of attendant uncovering your pot roast a flurry of guests will appear at your door. My mamma always told me it was impolite to eat in front of people who don’t have their own food and even if my visitors insisted I ended up with meal after meal of cold mashed potatoes. The visitors aren’t to blame and I appreciated their presence, and the food service certainly had no hand in this mysterious occurrence, but why would they put these sensors in the floor?

And speaking of food brings me to THE MYSTERIOUS HOT PLATE. No matter when my meal arrived, it was hot. There were no electronic devices hooked to the tray, simply a large stoneware dish that somehow stayed warm. When the aide left the room I picked up the plate to examine it. No wires. No batteries. Yet the plate was hot to the touch. How do they do that? Perhaps it’s the kitchen crews last-ditch attempt to overcome the visitor sensors in the floors.

All up and down the Passavant hallways you can hear the beep-beep of monitors, most of which are attached to IV bags delivering vital fluids to the patients to make up for the cold mashed potatoes caused by the DGS (Dinner Guest Sensors). Okay, nothing strange there, but most of them are pitched at a perfect A-flat on the musical scale. Is there a reason for this? Has CEO Doug Rahn and staff discovered a secret curative quality in the tone of A-flat?

COLOR THERAPY. I know it’s been a long time since I’ve stayed overnight in a hospital. . . I think I was five and clinging desperately to my tonsils, but I distinctly remember that long-ago medical world being a sea of white. White smocks, white skirts, white nurse’s hats, plus a collection of walls, ceilings and bedpans all bathed in the same whiteness. What happened? In my recent stay I didn’t see a single white uniform anywhere with the exception of Doc’s Prabhakar and Eladasari who when they stand in the hallways together look a great deal like a couple of elegant chess pieces. Every nurse and aide who entered my room sported another brilliant shade with pastels leading the way on that particular week. I thought this addition of professional pigment added a great deal to what might otherwise be a colorless four days. I’m tempted at this point to give special mention to a pair a hot pink pants on my final day, but I saw a wedding ring on her finger and will tame my comments down to a simple, “That was nice.”

THE KNOCKERS. It may be a small thing, but used to be when you went in the hospital, all hopes of privacy flew out the window. For the entire four days each staff member knocked before entering my room. Cool. And if I didn’t hear the knock I always noticed the whrrr-whoosh-psssst of the disinfectant dispenser, the necessary calling card of each entrant.

SIMPLE CONVERSATION. And this was perhaps the most therapeutic and helpful innovation I witnessed. At each shift-change the new nurse would stand beside my bed along with the gal who’d been with me for the past eight hours, and they’d simply go down a checklist of how I was doing. So simple, but such a blessing to me to be able to get a progress report twice a day. I was astounded at my progress. My oxygen level came up? I peed that much! Wow! Why didn’t Hippocrates think of this instead of going around Greece spreading his oaths everywhere?

If you want cured, go to a good hospital, but if you want both the cure and a good mystery, make it Passavant.

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About the author

Ken Bradbury is an adjunct instructor of theatre at LLLC after retiring from Triopia. He entertains on the Spirit of Peoria riverboat and is the author of over 300 published plays. Website:

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