Last Monday, my primary physician decided to send me to the emergency room. Emergency rooms have never been noted for being overstaffed, and since Covid, staffing has been “challenging, just challenging.” as one of the nurse practitioners told me. Nevertheless, I helped as much as I could – I was a patient who knew the staff’s stress levels well; they had been my own on occasion.
When I got to the Triage desk, I filled the NP in with a concise history, mentioned that I had spent my years in operating rooms and EW’s, and understood I’d wait while acute got seen. I’m not patient, but I am sympathetic.
By about one AM, it had begun to look like every EW I had ever worked in, except exceptionally short on staff. There was the usual assortment of those in physical anguish, the supercilious insisting on immediate care for a minor abrasion, and some macabre cases that made you wonder how they had managed to avoid care for so long.
When I was shuffled into the back, there was a round of bloodwork, EKG, and X-ray. From my history, they knew of my asthma and history of asymptomatic pneumonia. Early on, they ruled out myocarditis but wanted a CATscan to rule out a pulmonary embolism – that pressure in my back was suspicious for someone my age. Lucky for me, it turned out to be my old “friends” and not a new unwelcome visitor.
About fourteen hours after entering, I was discharged with a stack of prescriptions, a bunch of follow-ups for Primary Care, and a renewed respect for the professionalism of the technicians, nurses, nurse practitioners, and doctors who staff the emergency room.
Thanks to you all. And to the rest of you, make that appointment at your Primary Care and take a load off those wonderful, hard-working people at your local emergency ward.