Of course an ER holiday story won’t contain sugarplums, tinsel or Bing Crosby. Nevertheless, I am compelled to share this because it reflects who we are and why we go to work. More importantly it reflects how professional and wonderful our nurses are.
Paramedics brought in an elderly lady who was “found down.” We know that EMS message doesn’t portend good things. Her thoughtful landlord had called 911 when she didn’t answer the door. Cold, decubiti, confused, profoundly dehydrated, and transferred to our bed covered in stool and urine. She was wearing eyeliner, hair done. What had happened?
As we prepped her for CT, her primary nurse asked me if she could clean her up.
“Not yet, let’s expedite the CT,” I said.
She had a brain hemorrhage but it would take the radiologist longer to read the neck CT with all the arthritis. Her nurse expertly started the bair hugger, the treatments for renal failure, while I talked to St. Luke’s.
“Can I clean her up?”
“Not yet, I’m waiting for the c-spine results. Don’t move her.”
Her nurse started a second IV and hung more fluids.
And as the “no acute fracture” reading came through and I headed back to reassess her, there was her nurse. “Can I clean her up?”
Who, working on Christmas Eve, asks not once, but three times…eagerly, for the approval to clean up someone covered in stool and urine? An ER nurse. A medical professional of the highest training who nevertheless understands the indignity for the elderly lady who took the time to do her hair and make-up before a brain hemorrhage knocked her to the ground.
It is a privilege to work with such professional and kind people.
With much appreciation for those who smuggled in the cookies and fudge I scarfed down against the best intentions of JCAHO during this shift, and with the best wishes for health and happiness in the New Year,