Inside the Patients’ Library

The University of Iowa Hospitals has world-class medicine and treatments to help patients from all different walks of life, but one thing no one thinks about very much is how they keep the patients entertained. While the patient’s library gives people access to books and movies of amazing variety, it also provides patients with the ability to check out things such as Nintendo Wiis, Xbox Ones, and PlayStation 4s.


Aisle of the Patient's Library

The best part of working here would have to be working with all of the volunteers and staff to help exceed patient expectations every day.”

— Mindwell Egeland


The first thing that people think of when they hear Patient’s Library are books and movies, but the Patients’ Library has much more than that. It has video game consoles that the patients can check out, including Nintendo Wiis, Xbox Ones, and PlayStation 4s. They can request certain games to come on the console that they can play. However, the games that they can play are limited. The hospital does not let the patients play online multiplayer games, such as Fortnite or Player Unknown’s Battlegrounds (PubG). The Xbox One requires players to have an Xbox Live Gold account to be able to play online multiplayer games, and that costs money to access. The patients can sign into their accounts to play games, but other people can access the accounts if they are not removed in between patients using the console so the patients are not told about this feature. This is, of course, to protect the patients, even though some patients find it disheartening. The Patients’ Library staff is experimenting with a prototype cart of consoles that will come with one of every console that the library has to offer: a Wii, an Xbox 1, and a PlayStation 4. This will allow patients to play all of the games they want to across all of the consoles that they know.

 Of course, as in any hospital, the materials that patients use have to be cleaned. Most of the time, the library staff will use a cleaning wipe called TrueD (picture will be at the right/left, depending on what side it is on). This is a strong blend of chemicals in the wipes to kill most of the germs. Unfortunately, sometimes the wiped don’t do the whole job. If this is the case, then the hospital will have to take more drastic measures. A bleach ‘bath’ is used to clean the materials if the ailment that is afflicting the patient is unknown to the hospital. One of the biggest ways that the library is able to keep the materials as clean as they do is by encouraging people to clean their hands. This is emphasized heavily with signs, posters, and hand sanitizer dispensers all over the hospital. The library prefers to keep its materials clean since there will be many more people who handle them.

  The physical cleaning of the materials is not the only type of cleaning that goes on in the consoles. When a new patient is ready to receive a console, there are several steps to what has to happen. First, the staff has to wipe the console of all of the games requested by the previous patient to make room for the games that the next patient wants. This is a time-consuming process. This is because oftentimes, the games that patients request have a large amount of data that needs to download, which takes a while. This also affects the time that it takes for these games to delete off of the console. The larger the number of games that a previous patient has on the console, the longer the process of deleting the games will take.

  The patients have several ways of checking out materials from the library. One way is to have a volunteer that works in the library deliver it to them. The volunteers are a group of people who have gone through a rigorous process to be able to help in the library. The library is almost completely run by volunteers. They deliver requested items to patients who are unable to come up to the libraries themselves. 

Under the direction of the library’s director, Mindwell S. Egeland, the library can run mostly smoothly, aside from the days when the library has no other staff other than Egeland. “It can get a little chaotic from time to time,” Egeland said. Even though it can get very busy, it is still a good time for Egeland and the volunteers. “The best part of working here would have to be working with all of the volunteers and staff to help exceed patient expectations every day,” Egeland said. 

Another way that patients can get materials from the library is from the free book cart. The free book cart is just what it sounds like. The patients can find them throughout the hospital. “Most of the books get taken within a couple of days,” said Laura Fuller, a child psychiatrist that has a free book cart stationed near her office. The patients can take a book free of charge that they can read and enjoy. They are not required to return the book, even though it is through a function of the library. The library staffers always make sure to include a hand wipe container on the cart, too, to help reinforce the idea of clean hands to all kids who take a book.


Print Friendly, PDF & Email