Okay, foreign, as in to a hospital I was not familiar with, which is sort of like (but not really) travelling overseas. Me and my wrecked ankle. Not my Emergency, mostly because some little bird told me a (figurative) bomb had exploded at Acme Regional’s Emerg, and I didn’t want adding to the clots of patients in the hallways. Going to strange Emergency Departments is always entertaining and informative, and so it was.
Arrived at 1034. (I kept notes in the margins of the most recent issue of Harper’s, where, incidentally there’s an excellent article on autism. And also, you might observe, became one of those freaky people who keeps notes about their Emergency Department visits. Emerg nurses will know what I’m talking about.)
Triaged at 1036.
Registered at 1041. Triage Nurse: “Tell the registration clerk to send you directly to xray.”
Taken by wheelchair to radiology from registration by what looked to be a 90 year-old volunteer (who wheezed as she pushed) at 1044.
Four views of the ankle at 1054.
Returned to waiting room at 1101.
Brought in by the doc himself at 1124.
Discharged at 1131. No fracture, by the way.*
I thought: Hot dog, this is how Emergency Departments are supposed to work. Patients shouldn’t be sitting in waiting rooms for hours on end, being tortured by Dr. Phil on the tube and tattered issues National Geographic twenty years out of date?
But most EDs don’t work like this. You see, it was dead quiet, as in bereft of patients, empty, unpopulated, shoot-a-cannon-down-the-corridor-and-hit-nothing, uninhabited, vacant, barren, and void. There were no admitted patients lolling about, taking up space and beds. Actual lumps-and-bumps patients, like myself, flew in and flew out. More acutely sick patients could be seen expeditiously.
We’re told constantly by the Ministry of Health that the issue of Emergency Department waits is complex and layered, which I take is Ministrese for There is No Real Political Will to Fix the Problem.
Actually it isn’t that complex or layered. This is how it works: long term care beds are in short supply, which means that patients waiting for placement are blocking acute care beds in hospitals, which means admitted patients spend days rotting the Emergency Department.
There are fixes around the edges of the problem, such the standard preventative care approach (i.e. healthy people use less services), but also such ideas as facilitating supports for in the community through Home Care, so the frail elderly can stay out of nursing homes and live at home longer — and which has been shown to have better outcomes anyway. But in the end, what’s really required are more long-term care beds, lots more, because the demographics are not on our side. Unfortunately, the provincial government doesn’t seem too keen on providing them.
*And thanks for all the messages of concern and support. Yesterday was a wretch. I’m being told I was a little bitchy yesterday. (Narcs help.) Nurses are the worst patients, aren’t they?