Opinion

A hospital in a heatwave is no place to be

When temperatures soar, Kelly Smith spares a thought for patients and staff on the wards

As summer finally appears, we get ready for the onslaught of moans, groans and battling around the shops to get the last electric fan. While most of us can either find some shade or turn up the air conditioning, I feel sorry for nurses working in this weather.

Last summer, I had the misfortune of having an elderly relative in hospital for a few days. The heat on entering on the ward was overwhelming. As I sat with my relative and melted, I had to remind myself that hospital wards need to be kept warmer due to unwell, immobile patients - even more so with older people.

As a non-nurse, but someone who works in the industry, I spared a thought for those working on the ward. One nurse I had got to know over the short period of time my relative was admitted was particularly flushed as she simultaneously did her medication round, helped a patient to the toilet, and consoled a lady who was visibly upset.

As she came over to our bay, I resisted the urge to complain about the heat, smiling as she did observations and checked charts. My Irish ancestry, and inability to cope in weather over 18 degrees, must have shown on my face as she immediately asked if I was okay.

Feeling slightly foolish, I said I was fine, but she insisted I have a glass of water. She then checked my blood pressure and took my temperature. I left the hospital feeling very humbled, and grateful knowing my relative was getting the best care.

Returning to work, I was grateful to be back in the air conditioning. So when we find ourselves wishing it was cooler, think of our nurses who are looking after us and our loved ones all year round.

About the author

Kelly Smith is an advertising executive at RCNi

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