Monday, July 19, 2010

ED switch - first day

The next day I was back at my one-day-a-week place. This time I started in the ED and spent an hour or so with a very helpful long-term volunteer who took me around and gave me a quick and dirty introduction to what I'd be doing in the ER. She'd been volunteering there and at the other site for many years and also acted as an interpreter for Polish and Hebrew. There's a main room ER, a "fast track" for problems easy and prompt to remedy, and a pediatric ER. The RN trainer also told me that it's one of the few places in the country with psychiatric ER and she told me that there are psych patients in other ERs around the place waiting for appointments since few other hospitals are set up to deal with this kind of emergency. In other words, if you're going to suddenly go loopy, do so near this place! This RN then spent some time with me introducing me to various people, to the colour teams and how they work. After that, I was by myself. I spent the time circulating around the various parts of the ED, looking for stuff to do. Suddenly I saw our priest and stopped to talk with him: he was there since his elderly mother had fallen and broken her hip. Some time later, I went to speak with the trainer RN, to whom I mentioned that I'd seen our priest. She was amused since she'd seen a priest sitting outside a room and had thought, that doesn't look good. It's OK, I said, her son just happens to be a priest, no one is dying!
My duties in the ER include, assisting new intakes and orienting them, fetching food trays for those who need them (whichever is there, the name is irrelevant - this I took on board when I decided to give the only "real" lunch to the HIV +, dehydrated man living in an SRO who clearly needed it way more than the rather overweight woman whose name was actually on the tray, and a choice subsequently lauded by the volunteer trainer RN). I spent the time either actually taking things to the lab or blood bank, or putting them in the containers and sending them by "tube". I walked around asking for jobs in the various departments, fetching food trays, offering and fetching ice water, or just chatting with people. I almost got to see a lumbar puncture, but the patient decided not to have one - he'd previously had that experience and, upon discussion with the doctor, it seemed highly unlikely that it would have been very helpful since he almost certainly did not have the meningitis the LP would have found. He had shingles on his head and, while the doctor stated that he was pretty sure he didn't have anything else at this point, the LP would completely rule it out.

In the end, I did more than my 5 hours. Much more interesting and "happening" than patient rounding.

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