Saturday, August 22, 2009
Not An Auspicious Start
First call of the morning. It's early, about 0600. I'm working on a large cup of Dunkin Doughnuts coffee, and my partner for the day is driving the ambulance. We respond to a low-rent "hotel" to a woman with pregnancy complications.
Upon arrival we're met by the fire department who have been on-scene for a few minutes. The patient is in bed on the second floor the hotel, and clearly displeased with more than a few things. She's "insisting" on going to the hospital RIGHT NOW and is demanding an ambulance and a paramedic to take her there. When I tell her that I'm the paramedic she tells me that there's no need for an assessment, exam, or conversation. She wants to go now!
In the ambulance she balks at an IV, but I hold my ground and tell her its required. I decide to let my EMT partner "tech" the call while I drive to the hospital 20+ miles away. During the trip her boyfriend sits next to me in the front seat and insists that we drive faster. "What, no lights and sirens?" In the back I hear the patient criticizing everything that my partner is doing. I know that my partner has a short fuse for rudeness and I'm waiting to hear her go off. She keeps her cool.
In the hospital there's no need for registration or nurses, the patient wants a physician...NOW. She refuses to move off my stretcher onto a bed, which ties me up in the hospital longer than I wanted to be there. The nurses are frustrated because they can't do their job. I reclaim my stretcher and beat feet with my partner.
In the end, the patient will not pay a dime for the care that she received, regardless how substandard she thought it was. No insurance, no job; she will never even see a bill. A half a dozen firemen, a fire engine, an EMT, a paramedic, an ambulance in the early morning; nurses, hospital administration, lab technicians, and a physician... all for free. I'm saddened that there wasn't an ounce of gratitude for anyone's efforts. I failed to hear a "thank you" or a word of appreciation the entire time. Not an auspicious start to the day.