What could have been a less than favorable situation has instead turned into a learning opportunity for all involved as a local hospital is holding admitted patients in the Emergency Department with no end in sight.
“I’ll admit, at first I was a bit frustrated with the whole situation,” opined charge nurse Valarie Cowell. “But, I’ve come around on the whole thing. It’s allowing our ER nurses to expand their knowledge base and see the admission process from the other side. It can only make us sharper.”
The ER, located on the first floor of the venerable St. Indignant’s, boasts 13 monitored rooms with an additional 12 hallway beds and 4 fast track rooms to serve patients. Over the past week, no less than 10 of the room and hall beds have been occupied by admitted patients suffering a myriad of ailments to include fractures, NSTEMIs, end stage fibromyalgia, and yuppy flu.
Mark Shiwani, ER nurse, spoke with us during our visit and reported that he feels blessed to work with multiple patients during their entire course of treatment. “I’ve been here for four nights in a row and taken care of Mr. Gandy in ER 7 for the last two. He’s suffering with another infected diabetic foot ulcer. But, I’m pretty sure we can get him back to 100%, or at least 91%, without him ever having to set remaining foot on another floor!”
Jim Gandy (47), the aforementioned patient and recent right lower extremity amputee suffering an infection in his remaining foot, sees value in the arrangement as well. “Mark is quick to the draw when I hit the call light for my scheduled pain meds. I’m not sure if he’s just so busy or doesn’t care, but he never mentions when he sees me with candy and other contraband food. He also seems to gets a kick out of cleaning me and the bed up when I’ve had an accident. I could probably use the bedside commode but with stretchers this comfortable, who wants to get up just to dump out?”
Sadly, there have been a few complaints. Angela Wilson, a local woman who spent 20 minutes visiting her mother Joan Schwartz, found herself frustrated by the level of noise. “I was on my iPad ignoring mom when I kept hearing ‘I’m clear! You’re clear! ‘Everybody’s clear!’ wafting from an adjacent room. I’m not sure if they’re Scientologists or practicing a dance routine over there or what- but it was noisy and almost gave me a headache. I thought I was going to have to sign in myself and then they’d have been sorry, I’m a really hard stick!”
Mrs. Schwartz, who was admitted for exacerbation of family secondary to normal progression of Alzheimer’s dementia, seemed unaffected by the incident. “This is crap,” said Wilson, “I know a hospital board member so we should not be stuck in here!”
With the weekend upon us, the Emergency Room staff is confident that they can serve the community with the 9 beds not occupied by those in medical purgatory. “It’s supposed to be chilly tonight and we have no ICU beds- if we have any ROSC patients we’ll just put them out in the ambulance bay and BOOM, instant therapeutic hypothermia,” reasoned emergency physician Don Fellner. “I’m pretty sure we have plugs out there for the vents and pumps,” he added.
As this article goes to press, late word has emerged that three medical beds have come open though the ETA for them to be cleaned is at least 6 hours. “I told them not to rush it,” charge nurse Cowell told me, “we’re holding our own and learning a lot. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got to go hang some dopamine on a gentleman sitting on the floor of the ER lobby.