Welcome to the Hotel
October 9, 2010 3 Comments
There are nights when being a physician in the emergency department is like working as a hotel manager on an event weekend. Tonight was one of those nights. Rather than saying, “My name is Dr. ___, and I will be taking care of you. What brings you into the emergency department today?” A much more fitting opening for most of last night’s shenanigans would have been, “Welcome to Motel 9. We have a beautiful ground-floor view of a drunk man stripping his clothes off just beyond that half-opened curtain. On the other side of the building, we have a free live music performance – a patient clucking continuously for all to appreciate. In the corner we have a young woman and an elderly man arguing over who will get to have their c-collar taken off first – that is, which one of them will be sober first. Pick your poison. This is a full-service operation, 24-7. The customer is always right!”
We aim to please.
“Doctor, I need a sandwich.”
“Doctor, I’m cold right now. I need more blankets.”
“Doctor, I really need to go to the bathroom. Now.”
“Doctor, you can’t let me go home. I’m not sure if I can get into my house.”
Yes, right after I take care of one or two dying people, I’ll get right on it. Full-service motel. We wouldn’t want any of you to go without a sandwich for more than two hours in the emergency department. That would be pure sacrilege.
And so I am drained. Ready for a reprieve from constant service, constant sacrifice, constant work. In time.