My sister and I had stayed to pack up the hospital room and my stepmother had gone in the ambulance with my father. We were about 20 minutes behind them by the time I had thanked hospital staff, collected various bags of all the home type stuff we had brought in to make his room happier and paid the parking. (And as an aside, I really resent the way hospitals load parking charges to exploit relatives of sick people.)
We got back to the hotel (where my dad’s apartment was two stories on the uppermost levels) and immediately upon walking into the lobby, we were met with the sight of the stretcher, my Dad and the two ambulance guys, making there way out of the lift. my father’s back was to me and one of the ambulance officers looked up and said, “I am so sorry”.
I immediately thought he was dead; that the shock of transport had been too much for him. My sister thought the same thing, as we discovered when discussing it later. It was a visceral shock.
What followed, however, was almost worse.
It turned out that they hadn’t been able to convert the stretcher back down to a folder type, so that he could go up the stairs to his bed. (A little backstory here: my stepmother didn’t want his hospital bed downstairs in the living room – living room and kitchen were one and she was worried that she would ever afterwards associate that area with his dying) but no company was willing to take it up the stairs, due to OHS regulations. I had made the decision that they could just deliver the bed into the living room and arranged for all my male relations and friends to come around that afternoon and we would carry the bed up the stairs into the bedroom. Dad would already be deposited in his old bed and we would move him into the hospital bed once it was upstairs.)
Not only had they not been able to get him up the stairs, due to equipment failure; they hadn’t even been able to get him in the front door of his apartment.
Apparently, they needed space in order to try and convert the stretcher to a folder chair type and the hallway up there didn’t provide it. They asked the hotel manager if there were any spare rooms. There weren’t. The hotel staff loved my father and they said to break the stretcher down there, in the lobby; that they would deal with any negative repercussions. The only other alternative was the pavement outside – even more public.