July 26, 2005
Just Another Night in the ER
We visited a busy downtown ER and trauma center the other night. Beeping machines, pagers, and the intercom hit us, as we walked down the corridor toward the nurses' station, the heart of the ER. Patients lay on gurneys along the hallway, with fatigued faces and weary eyes. One guy stayed close to a plastic bucket, while another man napped. The homeless check themselves in to spend the night here so often that the ER staff call them "frequent flyers." A homeless man on a gurney said that he had been stabbed while he slept in the street. Meanwhile, an asthma sufferer with a tube in her throat moaned and moaned, while the staff tried to comfort her. We spoke with a 97-year-old woman who could not remember why she was there, or when she arrived. And then the paramedics brought in a man in full cardiac arrest. He had a purple face and never regained a heartbeat, no matter what the staff did for him. It was, they said, just another night in the ER.
Posted by Polly Stryker at 06:12 PM