The angels of Villa Joyosa


DO YOU hate going to see your doctor? Do you hate being ill? Does the thought of going into hospital alarm you?

Well I know how you feel because I’ve just done all of that. Falling down a flight of stone steps is not a good idea especially when you end up with a fractured thigh! However I am gradually recovering thanks to a team of dedicated people who are there to make quite sure your recovery is thorough and swift.

Being admitted as a patient is a strange experience which, I’m sure most of you have endured for one reason or another. Let’s face it, hospital, any hospital throughout the world, is hardly home from home.

From the moment you enter, those ghastly smells of medicine and disinfectant soon attack your nostrils and make you feel alienated from the comforting smells of your own home! My first ever experience of being pushed around on a trolley stretcher was hearing the rather posh voice of an English woman bellowing out: ‘HELLO!’ ‘HELLO’ every few minutes and throughout the night. Coupled with the sound of a young man yelling out the pain he was in I was beginning to think they had brought me to a lunatic asylum! But the nursing staff both male and female knew exactly how to deal with it, mainly with humour, which I found infectious.

Hospitals, by their very nature are part of life’s drama. We see their stories played out in countless television soap operas, but they never project the real stress and tensions on the wards. The Hospital of the Villa Joyosa Marina Baixa seems to me to be the perfect Spanish hospital. It’s efficient, clean, and, on the whole welcoming. You may remember that some years ago there was a television soap opera in the UK about nurses in a teaching hospital called Angels.

Well Marina Baixa has plenty of its own angels, both male and female, and the noticeable advantages they have over their present day British counterparts are compassion and patience. For most of us, being admitted as an in-patient at a hospital for an operation is a traumatic experience. You need to be treated with care, understanding, and tolerance. Indifference to fear is quite simply unkind. But my experience of Spanish hospitals so far has taken that into account. Especially amongst the angels of Marina Baixa. Let me give you an example.

The day I was admitted for my operation I had to share a room with a British man who had come to Spain with his wife and daughters for a three week holiday. Unfortunately he was taken seriously ill and was sadly diagnosed with terminal cancer told that it was too dangerous to fly home and that he would have to travel overland. The cost of sending an ambulance with full equipment from the UK was £10,000. Needless to say the nursing staff couldn’t contribute to such a large amount but every one of them made him feel that as soon as he got home he would make a full recovery, which in reality is very unlikely.

The angels of Marina Baixa struggle hard to help every patient in their care, many of whom cannot speak their language. But one thing they all agree upon is that if you want your loved ones to recover quickly then regular visits to them are essential. I was lucky because I had visitors practically every day, but it was heartbreaking to see some patients from the UK, lost in a land where very few people spoke their language, their eyes permanently fixed on the door waiting for a familiar face to appear.

So please visit your loved ones and help the angels of Marina Baixa, and every other hospital throughout the land, to do the job to which they are so dedicated.

What do you fear most about going into hospital in Spain? Let me know by writing to

By Victor Pemberton

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