Saturday, August 22, 2009

Not An Auspicious Start

The ancient redwoods of Muir Woods outside of San Francisco

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.


Arli said...

Wow. Sending you a THANK YOU for doing your job so well, without thanks from those who should be so grateful. I have never called on an ambulance or F.D., but it's nice to know you are there and so good at what you do, should the need arise. Thank you.

lorraine said...

Read this today. I'm a Reg nurse in a low income area and man the same song is sung at our hospital ER and on the floor also. They wait 20 minutes and freak out that it takes so long - mind you they WALKED IN - how much of an emergency can it possibly have been? Emergency means life and death - those people don't walk - anyway when they are admitted it's - why aren't I getting more pain med?, this food (food that is prepared and handed to them on a tray) sucks, My bed is dirty and they haven't changed it since last night, that night nurse was mean, they took hours to answer my light (real time 10 min), this hospital is the worst I have ever been in (why did you come here? - 5th admit this year) yada yada yada. No one else will admit them. They have COPD and won't stop smoking. They have alcohol complications - won't quit. Crank problems - won't quit - weight problems 369 - won't work on it - diabetes complications - won't control it. Where do I stop? - there is no stopping. The complaints don't stop either. We get stuck with these guys for weeks because they keep hanging on with constant additional physical complaints because they don't want to leave but they also non stop complain about the care they get???? All being paid for by - take a bow - those of us who are taking care of them and working. Unfortunately our line of work just is like that but then there are those sweethearts that make it all worthwhile. We show up for work for all of them - the good, bad, and the ugly. Take care and keep writing and I'll keep reading. lorraine