I don’t know how many hospitals you have been in lately, but I have become a keen observer of hospital staff, food, etc in the last few months.  Our niece started her quest for health and recovery in July when she was diagnosed with recurrent stage 4 Hodgkin’s Lymphoma-culminating in a bone marrow transplant December 18.  You can imagine the number of visits to labs, specialists, hospitals this degree of illness requires.

I have been struck by the “bed side” manner of these professionals and how they interact with their patient.  Warm, friendly, caring-there have been a few crabby folks but we just figure they are overworked and wanted to go home.  Even the food delivery is personalized-you call down and order off a menu and within half an hour a light tap on the door is followed by a pleasant “room service.”  Medicine and how we care for patients is evolving-there was music therapy, dog therapy and hand and arm massage-on staff chaplains dropped in for a kind word of encouragement and social workers wanted to know what they could do to improve quality of life upon release.

What does this have to do with silver, you say?

DSC03382Years ago we were lucky enough to visit the tiny island of Malta-rich with history of wars and a revolving door of conquerors.  The most significant aspect for me was that Malta was the home of the hospital run by the Knight’s of St. John.  The Knights wanted the patient to feel the pure love of God while in their care, so they treated the patient with utmost respect and courtesy-a bit like royalty.  Thus, the silver-rather than serve the food out of a wooden bowl on a wooden tray-their patients were served their food on silver platters with silver candelabras lighting their rooms.  The Knights were the first to separate patients and give them any sense of privacy-they were treated as individuals-not a ghastly mass with leprosy and the plague.

Not surprisingly, the patients at the hospital run by the Knights recovered-most hospitals in the 11th century were set up for people to just go there and die.  We now understand that being served on silver was lovely, but more importantly sanitary-the porous wood bowls served as an agent to spread disease.  Silver did not retain the germs and was easily cleaned.  Separate rooms?  Nice, but more importantly safe.  Separating masses of folks with communicable diseases reduces the risk for everyone.

During this flu season, I’m not suggesting you serve dinner on a silver platter (or maybe I am!) but be good to yourself.  Treat yourself like the daughter of God that you are-sleep well, live well and be well.