current events

A night in the ER

I have not been to the Emergency Room since the beginning of Covid. I readily admit that, in a weird way, I’m lucky that I’m in healthcare and work in a clinic. If need be, I can receive healthcare fairly quickly. Well, for the small stuff. The downside of being in healthcare, of course, is that I have constant potential exposures to Covid. There’s always plusses and minuses to everything.

After two years, I went into an ER. This past week, I accompanied a friend to the Emergency Room and I sat there quietly watching workflows and protocols in action. It was an odd feeling to be there. At times I felt like a Martian who just landed and was sitting back learning about planet Earth. Whay I experienced was hard to stomach at times. It’s not easy being in healthcare at the moment. There’s many “opportunities” for things to go wrong and for fear to permeate the air. And, in an emergency room even moreso.

I will not name the hospital. But here is a bit of what I saw.

Right off the bat, one could see there were different levels of comfort with masks. Some staff did not correctly wear their masks. And one took off his mask for about 30 minutes to talk about his previous evening adventures. How someone would do that so easily in an ER confounds me. At the clin8c, and as a visitor to the ER, I was double-masked.

There’s no doubt thatbin New Uork we are experiencing a rise in crime and a rise in the number of people who need immediate mental health services. As I sat there, many patients came accompanied by police handcuffed to the gurney or their feet shackled. Further, one such patient kept screaming “help” while everyone seemed to ignore that plea. I couldn’t tell if he was just protesting his handcuff situation or he was truly in dire medical distress.

Meanwhile, in terms of biohazards. At the other end of the room, someone vomited onto the floor and housekeeping was not paged for over an hour. Yikes. I was seated right near it and thankfully my n95 mask kept me from smelling it.

What about covid? There were two people who were there to get the PCR test after having tested positive at home. They were allowed to intermingle with everyone else who was there for other reasons such as abdomen pain. It was a bit netwrecking.

I get why people are afraid to go into a healthcare facility. It’s scary out there. Maybe I shouldn’t even put this experience out there. I’m not criticizing the facility I went to. We are a fractured and injured healthcare system. Many are trying their hardest to provide the best care they can. However, at the moment staffing shortages, lack of childcare, a pandemic are creating an environment where patience may be a virtue but it’s being heavily tested.

10 replies »

  1. In Quebec, the government has mandated that health care workers can and must work, even with positive COVID tests! I live in a rural area of a province that is strongly antivax/masking, so i’m very grateful to live on a farm and be able to mostly isolate.

    1) Thanks for your work,
    2) Stay as safe as you can,
    3) Wow… Just, WOW.

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  2. Every night, every little twitch of my chronic illness, I pray this is NOT the night when the ambulance will be called to our retirement community to take ME to an ER for something serious.

    Because I’m going to feel like an utter fool if it’s not necessary, and it’s going to take an unbelievable amount of energy to simply survive the procedure, and I won’t be able to write for a long time after expending that energy I don’t have.

    Seems to happen – the panic that it might be this time – a couple of times a month.

    I have a rule for myself: if it’s not serious enough to consider waking the husband (he needs his sleep), then I can probably tough it out.

    But I put the emergency bracelet on – the one I’m sure I will be able to manage to press the button on if I have a stroke – and take the portable phone with me to the bathroom so I can actually talk to the front desk instead of pushing the big emergency button on the wall (which will lead to a phone call to our apartment asking what’s up before they do something – and that phone call will NOT wake the sleeping husband).

    Because I don’t want to experience what you just experienced – and wonder if I picked up covid and made everything far worse.

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  3. For Every First World Problem
    There are Still Even Worse Problems
    Than Third World Realities At Home
    SMiLes i Tried to
    Explain that to
    mY Wife
    When Fixing
    All the Insurance
    Company Mistakes
    Just Last Night Again
    As Usual i’m Surely Glad
    i’m NOT in Charge
    of Anyone
    Else’s
    Mistakes Now
    It’s Not Easy Being
    A Perfectionist that
    Way As Far As i Know
    Its Potential is to End Life
    While Those Who Don’t Care Continue
    to Dog Paddle The Water Where They Stay
    SMiles There ComeS A Day When Ya Let A
    World Just Float On Ya Shoulders Away As We Stay too..:)

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  4. unfortunately, yours is not an isolated incident. Healthcare systems are not only short-staffed but forcing underpaid workers to work the toughest shifts. Plus, our ERs are filled with people that shouldn’t be there but forced there due to lack of insurance. Additionally, there’s the bureaucracy of putting so many regulatory measures in place, we forget to use our triage skills or common sense. My husband, the MD, was once in ER due to GI-related illness. When I arrived 9 hours later from out of town, he was still waiting to be seen and passed out on a gurney from dehydration. Apparently, “policy” was to deny water to anyone with stomach symptoms. My advice to those with illness is always to visit an Urgent Care facility. If the condition is severe enough, they will send you to the ER via ambulance which immediately prioritizes you to those in the waiting room. If it’s not severe enough, you will still be seen and receive treatment at lower prices than those of the emergency room. (This does not apply to Stand Alone Emergency Clinics).

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  5. Due to a recent medical emergency in the family, I spent the summer visiting several hospitals. I noticed all the those things noted. I also met some amazing nurses, doctors, and various staff members that were seriously professional regarding how they handled the environment. No easy answers, hospitals are just little cities, with the same attitudes I find in all human gatherings. Enjoyed this post.

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