Find out what it means to me

by Jinryu

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Today was the first day that I was training for the ECore position with S.  She’s a great coordinator, but honestly, she’s a bit wary nowadays because apparently security was a bit late the last time she coordinated, and that’s when a parent got in her face and had a hand raised up right in front of S’s nose.  S thought she was going to get smacked.

Today, the day started off in the morning with about 6 hours worth of backlog– that meant that for category 4-5 patients (the vast majority of patients) you had to wait 6 hours before being placed in a room.  It might take even longer before a doctor had the chance to come and see you.

Today, at the peak of my evening shift, the wait time was a bit shy of 8 hours.

There was a bit of a situation today, in that while S was teaching me something at the coordinator’s post, two families showed up.  One was an angry mom who was certain that her kid had appendicitis, that we had a shitty nurse working at triage didn’t know jack, and that my job existed to provide disservice to patients who had the real problems; the other was a mother and father who were outraged that their son had to wait so long to have a tylenol given to them for their son’s fever.

I’d rant about what children they were being, but I wont; because today, after the events of yesterday, I just honestly felt sorry for them.  I did.  I didn’t have it in my heart to really imagine myself beating the crap out of them today as much as that really felt like my first thought yesterday (all be it thankfully inhibited).  I just felt sorry for them.

Of course they don’t want my sympathy.

This situation escalated because wheras S and I normally had enough going for us that we could calm a single parent, perhaps two of the same family, two separate groups of parents doesn’t work well.  The first lady started complaining and the next think you know the second family was agreeing with first family.  They were feeding off of eachothers’ anger and frustration, and compounding!

“I don’t understand why this is so complicated,” said the first lady.

“Yeah!  This is emergency!  But at this hospital, we are treated like…” and then he makes a stomping motion as if we’ve been kicking his baby in the face or something.

“Oh, you know what, I’m not putting up with this,” S says, and walks away.

“And yeah, that’s it.  Just walk away,” calls out Mrs. Appendicitis.

  And I don’t hold it against S– S isn’t a big person, probably 5′ tall at most– and this crowd of people who are getting increasingly loud at the desk probably doesn’t strike her as appetizing, especially considering her recent skirmish.  Immediately, I stepped into the area beside the counter so that the parents couldn’t enter our zone.  I put the two mothers between the man and I and I calmly explained the sitaution to them.

But it got worse.

I think I have to be a bit more assertive with the situation next time because I keep on thinking that they want someone to listen to them– they don’t.  These aren’t people who are here for a rant, they’re here for results– so I have to stay focused on that next time, and assure them that the results come with their patience.

In any case, Doctor [B] came in suddenly from behind and told them, very calmly, first of all, to stop it.

“Hi, I’m the doctor in charge tonight.  First of all, do not yell at the staff.  Do not.”  He goes on to explain the situation exactly as S and I did earlier to back us up.  “We are here to help you, nobody is preventing you from being served, nobody is at fault.  We are simply working as fast as we can humanely do so, and you will have to wait your turn in fairness to all the other children here.  Do not yell at the staff.”

“I wasn’t yelling,” mumbles the appendicitis lady.

“Do not disrespect the staff, and it doesn’t have to be yelling.  Everyone here is doing their job as best as we humanly can.”

The mother/father combo suddenly realized though: this is what they wanted!  They wanted some attention for their kid!  So they start repeating the situation about their kid, the one that S and I had heard several times already.

And then Doctor [B] matter-of-factly explains simply that he cannot see them right now.  He backs S and I up by not cutting them any favors, which reinforced the idea that you can’t try and weasel your way through the system just by being assertive.

I really, really appreciated that.  I’ve worked at too many jobs (including the last hospital) where people who had power to do things would grant favors to make themselves seem like the good guys, but then leave their teammates hang out to dry, and every time that happened I hated it.  Why have a system if that’s what we were going to do?

But Doctor [B] stuck to the system.  He did it in a measured, calm way, withotu being insulting, and he helped retrace the line that S already drew with those parents.

It didn’t make the parents any less angry, mind you, but at least it reaffirmed that they weren’t going to get any favors due to agression.

And then something funny happened– a pair of security guards had magically appeared, and so when Mr. “You’re Kicking My Baby while He’s Down” turned around, he had a moment of startled shock when he saw one beefy 180lbs guard and another 220+lbs guard standing just a few meters away, looking quite literally like immovable statues.

What a team play!  Really.  I didn’t realize that when S turned away she was actually calling security.  When the security guards showed up, I didn’t even notice them; man they were like freaking ninjas, and that’s no small thing to say of men of their size and stature.  And Doctor [B]?  He’s just fucking awesome for holding the line.

I’m really glad I’m working with who I am working with.

It’s the first time I can say that my employees are mostly all chill.

Well, aside from my bitchy first trainer. I came in an hour and a half early for work today.  Whenever I did the day shift, I finished at 3pm– so I assumed that the evening shift, which I was working for the first time tonight, began at 3pm.  Wrong, apparently– apparently, the evening shift begins at 4:30pm.  Well, it was an honest mistake and no harm came of it– I didn’t honestly care too much.  But Ms. Bitch had to throw in, at once smug and nonchallant, “I told him he had to read the manual.”

The fact that two other coordinators also made the same mistake in the last two weeks suggests that perhaps a single little sentence in a manual that is literally over 100 pages long, which we are expected to memorize over the course of  one month, and annotate with the billions of exceptions, well, maybe we’ll forget a thing or two like that.  But thanks for all your help.  And thanks for the attitutude, as always.

But aside from her, most of my coworkers are just awesome.  Doctor [B] and S are mentioned today, but there’s also N, C and Sp who are all great as well.  I’d mention more but I don’t know all the names yet.  I have a great deal of respect for all of them.

I also got to work with Doctor [E] today, but I might as well call him superman.

When Doctor [E] is working, the entire Emergency department transforms into his support team.  There are special procedures to take when he’s with us, lots of little quirks, meant to speed up his ability to see patients.  And then, he just clears them out.  He gets in there and just goes through patients like a machine– and in a single hour and a half, he clears out almost the entire waiting stack!

I suppose this doesn’t sound all that interesting to you if you don’t know what I’m talking about, but basically it’s this– Doctor [E] singlehandedly reduced the time to get a room from 8 hours to about 1 hour, and he did this in an hour and a half of time.  Those numbers are simply insane.  He’s a demanding commander-in-chief, but he’s very professional.

He doesn’t know my name yet so he calls me [Jinryu]EricJonathanJason to cover all his bases.

“[Jinryu]EricJonathanJason, what room’s XXXX in?” he calls out from down the hall.

“23, sir!” (yes I actually yelled out SIR).

“Very good.  Hold off on the 4s and 5s for a bit, lets clear up the 3 stack first.  Float it at about 5 kids total.”

“No problem.”

S gives me a thumbs up.  “Lets get him those red cards.”

And off Doctor [E] walks, his cape trailing behind him.

It’s not that parents are the enemy.  But they can either fall or put themselves in that position.  It is the Dark Side– when asking nicely doesn’t work, we make that progression from fear to anger that in theory can be solved by the brandishing of power.

Angry parents, like a cough, a fever, pain– they are a symptom of a problem in the child.  They often don’t go away, unfortunately, until the root of the problem is addressed.  In the absence of a cure, there is only self control and discipline to stave off the symptoms.