LESLIE CRISS: Classic TV makes doctors’ waiting room happier place

By Leslie Criss/NEMS Daily Journal

“I find television to be very educating. Every time somebody turns on the set, I go in the other room and read a book.”
– Groucho Marx

“The television, that insidious beast, that Medusa which freezes a billion people to stone every night, staring fixedly, that Siren which called and sang and promised so much and gave, after all, so little.”
– Ray Bradbury

“A chuckle a day may not keep the doctor away, but it sure does make those times in life’s waiting room a little more bearable.”
– Anne Wilson Schaef

Early Tuesday morning I arrived at Wesson & Mothershed Eye Center. It was time for my annual visit with Dr. Matt. I checked in, sat down and realized the television monitors in the waiting room no longer were showing me an ongoing loop introducing me to folks who work at the eye center and all the services offered there.
Of course, there was nothing wrong with that. But once I’d watched the loop three or four times in one sitting, I felt like I knew everyone employed there on a first-name basis and understood all I needed to about available procedures and services.
By about the sixth or seventh time around, I was getting fidgety and more than ready to be called back.
Well, Tuesday was refreshingly different.
An episode of “The Andy Griffith Show” was playing on the monitors. I watched the end of one with which I was unfamiliar.
Then another episode began. As I watched with my fellow waiting room sitters, I heard laughter emanating from different directions. I looked around to see big smiles on most faces.
No one seemed agitated or impatient or angry. No one was consistently checking the time.
I’d watched only a few minutes of the second episode before I heard my name.
For a second, I thought about telling Amy, who’d called my name, “Could you go ahead and take someone else before me so I can watch the rest of this episode?” But I didn’t. Work waited, and I needed to get on back to the Journal.
So, I followed Amy. With my eyes peering through a machine at a road going up to a red barn and telling Amy which picture looked clearer, I asked about the waiting room programming.
Not only does the eye center show episodes about the good folks of Mayberry, they have other classics from back in the day when good writing seemed to be important.
“We have ‘I Love Lucy,’ ‘The Brady Bunch,’ ‘Bewitched,’” Amy told me.
I told her I was mighty impressed.
I told her I have good friends – some who lean to the right; others who lean to the left – who get upset, agitated, nervous when forced to watch either CNN or Fox News while they wait to see a member of the medical community.
Seems to me it would be better for the patients to feel happy and calm before seeing their physicians. I would imagine, as well, it would be easier on the docs to see happier, calmer patients.
It’s hard enough on us waiting – often for a long time – and worrying about our health or the health of a loved one to have to sit and hear ad nauseum about how our country’s going to hell in a handbasket.
Take a lesson from Dr. Mothershed and Dr. Matt. Offer something light and cheery for patients to watch while we wait.
It will make a difference your patients will appreciate.
leslie.criss@journalinc.com