Why does it always have to be in the middle of the night? After a couple of rapid fire successive events, I knew I was headed to the ER in one of Springfield’s two major hospitals and, honestly, dreaded the ER more than the malady that was taking us there. Unbelievably, there were just a couple of folks in the waiting room and my symptoms garnered the immediate attention of the triage nurse and boom……I was in the system and taken to a little room buried in the bowels of the ER. Today I write about that experience and the changes in the way hospitals are run. They may not be what you remember from days gone by.
The emergency room doctors and staff were as might be expected. They were compassionate, concerned and busy sticking needles in my arms. In the middle of the initial response, the usual concerns about financial responsibility were addressed and a very nice lady asked me to clarify my wishes in response to intubation should the mornings activities go south. I told her my directive was on file and the nice lady sitting in the corner, would make whatever decisions needed to be made. Reassuring……..not in the least. At this point it is important to note that blood doesn’t bother me at all, unless it is mine and there is a lot of it. I was not in the mood to discuss legalities. To add to my angst, a surgeon, at 4 AM mind you, walks in to the room, shakes my hand, and says he will be happy to take care of me should we need to “go upstairs”. I was beginning to get the feeling that I should have spent a lot more time in church.
After things calmed down, I then endured the next 17 hours on an ER bed designed to have a board placed on it for CPR. Why, you ask? Because there was “no bed for me upstairs”. Actually that was misrepresented and I was not buying it. After a subtle interrogation from a guy who used to do that all the time, the nurse admitted there was no staff to attend to patients. Beds they had. Finally, after my stay in the ER listening to any number of psych patients screaming through their meth addled delusion, I was taken upstairs, deposited in a room, and an hour later, met by an astonished nurse who had no idea I was being entrusted to her care. This began two days of massive IV antibiotics, a liquid diet, blood draws every 6 hours, a little morphine to take the edge off and a gentle conversation with the best patient advocate ever, Miss Sharon. The pain began subsiding, the bleed was staunched and I began to take notice of the current state of affairs. Of the 7 nurses that I came in contact with, 6 were “traveling nurses”. They were paid SUBSTANTIALLY more per hour than were the regular staff nurses that remained loyal to the system. Their abilities were without question and their level of care as high as anywhere I have been. So the nurses from city A travel to city B and vice versa. They meet on the road motivated by higher pay, control over their hours, and the ability to visit places they enjoy. You simply cannot argue with their logic. Anyone who has supervised folks can see the problem this causes. Why is this happening, Covid and mandatory shots. I will NOT be drawn into a discussion about this mess. It is simply the reality.
Hospitalists are next up. You no longer see your PCP on rounds as in the old days. You are handed off to a hospitalist, a doctor who takes over your care after admission. Honestly, while I would rather see my regular physician at the start of the day, these guys (and gals) were very much involved in my care and I had only positive interactions with them. The lady Doc who made the decisions on my last day, prescribed meds and established follow up care with the appropriate specialists. She was a angel. She was as knowledgeable on the matters at hand as the specialists that streamed in and out of the room during this stay.
Of interest. Covid and the response to it, with mandates and political intrigue in the mix, has changed the landscape. This hospital is forcing life altering decisions upon it’s staff, yet does not enforce the anti-covid protocols in their own lobby. It is my absolute belief that politicians need to stay the hell out of the practice of medicine and the individual response we all have to it.
I have lived to fight another day. A special thanks to the men and women who delivered me back to my front door, weak but getting better. A final thank you to Sharon. She is a wonderful lady and terrific advocate. She can go from demure to Beth Dutton with the flip of a switch and watched every move on my behalf during this event. When you are scratching around in your overnight bag, looking for your directive, it pays to have folks like her in your corner.
Have a great weekend!