Kentucky Places: The University of Kentucky Chandler Medical Center

When you're from a rural Kentucky town, you tend to identify yourself with a "home city."  You go to Lexington, Louisville, Nashville or Cincinnati for big shopping excursions, social events, and healthcare.  You don't really even think about the distance.  It's just where you go.
Last week, my father had surgery at the University of Kentucky Medical Center.  Now, Lexington is my family's "home city", despite the fact that it's a nearly two and a half hour drive from my parents' house.  Similarly, UK is our "home school", despite the fact that most members of my family hold degrees from other universities.  We all cheer on our Wildcats, we've all attended meetings and classes on campus, and we all revere the first-rate healthcare services that the University provides.

 
Commonwealth Stadium, #RISE
It was an interesting experience to walk the University's campus with a focus on the Med Center, rather than on the school itself.  I went past so many sites that held rich memories of my own grad school years and beyond.  As I took breaks from the waiting room, I walked past the football field where I've tailgated so many times and noted the Greek housing where many of my friends once lived.  I passed the buildings where my beau and I each earned our graduate degrees.  I stopped for a second to salute Memorial Coliseum, where I've had the good fortune to watch some of the University's basketball greats practice.  So many campus buildings held such specific family memories -- there's a building named for my grandfather's least favorite professor, there's the building where my beau conducted a hilarious B-school project -- and yet, I was rushing back to the hospital, a site far removed from these happy memories.

Photo Wall, Chandler Medical Center
At some point during our hospital visit, I stopped focusing on the dichotomy of school and fun versus the scary hospital.  I listened to my aunt's stories of bringing my cousin (a toddler at the time) to the Med Center Courtyard to visit my uncle during the few brief breaks he could take during his medical residency.  And, I started to really focus on the hospital's decorations -- a dynamic photo wall of Kentucky images, a painting by my dad's distant cousin, quilt wall hangings -- which reflected the communities from which the patients and employees hailed.  The Chandler Med Center, I realized, was embracing its role as many Kentuckians' "home hospital." 
Waiting Room View
We left the Med Center on Saturday with plenty to smile about -- an excellent prognosis and the Men's Basketball Team's impressive win over North Carolina.  While a major family health crisis will never be as fond a memory as rushing the football field, earning a degree, or even an outstanding fraternity party, I was so impressed by both the standard of care and the commitment to patient comfort at UK.  I found myself suddenly paraphrasing Coach Calipari, as I began to think of the Med Center as The Commonwealth's Hospital.