Anmed Health Medical Center ER Staff

A recognition and thank you.

I have spent a few hours in the ER today, not for my neighbor but for myself. Apparently a 3 day virus has taken over the city. That, on top of horrendous sun and heat that has knocked everything and everyone here down, took its toll on me. I left ‘early’ because there were 18 people waiting in the hallways of the ER proper and I had yet to be called back. I had been through triage and had an IV in but felt I could make it back home and nurse myself. I am sipping ginger ale and nibbling crackers..

I told the nurse who spoke to me last that I had previously written an essay titled “The Hospital is a Holy Place.” I think she anticipated that it was criticism. I pointed out to her that I had observed much compassion when I was here several months ago. She was credulous; she remarked that I must have been thinking of ICU or the Heart Center. No, I was talking about the patients and their families waiting in the outer waiting areas. She found that difficult to believe so I will attempt to pass this and that other essay along to the ER staff…somehow.

As I drove home, though, I remembered that my previous essay did not say much about the staff of the ER…if at all. Granted, I was writing about what I observed from the external waiting area because, as I was not family, I spent my time out there…not among the staff members. What I observed among the staff today was a great deal of tension and signs of strain, stress, and (although swift, alert, and competent) emotional stretching. I am not implying today was atypical but what I saw caused my soul to desire to extend compassion and gratitude to the staff of the ER.

No one was short-tempered with me. In fact, the technician/nurse who inserted (and then later removed) my IV, or maybe it was someone else, added that if I need to come back, they are always open.

So, this post is dedicated to them…the devoted staff of the Anmed Health Medical Center Emergency Room.

As I rested in the post-triage waiting area, my thoughts drifted to my previous visit and how I had been poised to address whatever Jesus pointed out to me. So, I queried in my heart, “Are you here, Jesus?” As Jesus is omni-present, omniscient, and omni-personal, of course He was there. But I sensed His focus was elsewhere…not on me. I took that to mean I would be fine. So, I turned my intention to what He may have been focusing on. My first suspicion was to the enormous amount of suffering and intense emotion felt by all of the patients throughout the whole hospital…not just the ER. Then I wondered in rhetorical amazement: How do You handle all of the trauma, pain, and need…not only in this hospital but in all hospitals as well as in this world? That just made me feel dizzier and weaker.

But now that I am home, I speculate the He was just as concerned with the members of the staff. Many times during my wait I overheard calls concerning the need for immediate attention at various entrances, transport areas, and sections of the ER. These men and women were spread thin and stretched to the max…but their service and skill never showed it…not that I noticed. They were not overly chatty or smiling, but when I spoke to them, I had their undivided attention. They did not rush me along or dismiss my situation but seemed to have a keen ability to prioritize and assess. In other words, they were sharp, keen, and on top of a very bad situation. They did their jobs well, and I commend them.

I still feel compassion toward the woman who found it difficult to believe that I had observed compassion among the patients duri9ng my previous visit. I overheard concern among strangers in the post-triage area today, as well. I hope those interested will go to my previous essay and gain from my observations.

(Jesus, bless those capable and over-extended staff members, individually, if you would, because I am also aware that they have families, bills, worries, and illnesses of their own. They seemingly give 175% to their vocations and we benefit from it and never, or almost never, say thank you.)

The Hospital is a Holy Place

I spent most of last night in the local Emergency Room with my next-door neighbors.  As I was not technically family, (I was her driver), I spent most of my time in the outer waiting room.  Although last night was not the exact full moon,* it was definitely a full-moon-night at the ER.  There was everything from vomiting children to psychotic teenagers.  But during a quiet spell, I remembered a truth that dawned on me a long time ago: there is a lot of holy and spiritual activity in and around a hospital, all the time.

There is the constant battle for life over death.  There is the constant struggle of good (health and wholeness) over bad (illness and brokenness).  There is also a great deal of fervent praying going on, the desperate begging of God for more time for oneself or for a loved one, promises to God and pleadings for forgiveness before it is too late.  There are priests and ministers giving last rites or hearing confession.  Children, as well as parents, are whispering their last good-byes…often with Jesus standing to one side.  Spirits are being released from the deceased.  Babies are coming into the world with souls newly sent from God.  With so much divine presence, I would not be surprised to see someone drop to a knee before entering. God dwells in such places.

Later in the evening, when the seriousness of the issues increased, I noticed even more God stuff going on among the people waiting to be ‘taken back:’ mothers were holding and comforting their sick children (temperatures seem to go up after sunset); men were wrapping blankets around their elderly parents or grandparents or wives; people were sharing personal and sometimes intimate stories of pain and hardship to total strangers; a father told of raising his children alone; young men accompanied by three or four policemen were relating sensitive details of their circumstances with them; another young man had an ankle cuff attached to his right foot…he and his friend were conversing in a casual, kind, and gentle way with other people waiting to be processed.  Some people were hungry and food was shared with them.  A white station wagon careened into the pull-through with horns blaring, doors opened before the vehicle had come to a stop, “She’s having a stroke!”  The entire family was there in desperate support.

When I made a food run, I noticed many people sitting alone or in groups of two or three outside in the warm night…waiting…one seemingly napping against the brown brick wall (perhaps he was praying or dreaming); others were talking quietly among themselves.  Even the exhausted drive-through attendant, used to the round-the-clock need for food to be taken back to the hospital, spoke in soft, hushed, gentle tones as if in respect for the serious circumstances surrounding the ones who had come to her for sustenance.

When I returned to the ER, the outer ‘triage’ waiting area was empty except for my neighbor’s wife to whom I had brought something to eat.  The gentleman, whose intended meal was also in the bag, had already left.  My neighbor said a silent grace over her hamburger.  We ate without speaking.  We were out of words and she was exhausted.  After another hour or so, I drove her home and came back to stay with her husband until he was released.

At some point during the ordeal, I noticed how within the walls of the hospital, just as within the walls of a church, no one requires an introduction to speak to the person across the way or sitting beside them; you are both there for a common purpose:  healing and help.  Words of encouragement or hope are shared without forethought or agenda; blessings and well-wishing are sent without concern for a return; gestures of kindness and consideration are extended regardless of race, age, or circumstance.  Pain is a leveler.  Fear and despair know no boundaries.  Disease and injury are no respecters of social standing or wealth.  We are all broken and in need…and that fact is well comprehended.

I never saw looks of judgement or disapproval.  I saw teary eyes of compassion and knowing eyes of having been there….eyes of tolerance and perhaps a look of relief as if in thanks for one’s own comparatively light burden, reflecting “there, but for the Grace of God, go I.”

 

*The next full moon will occur on Friday, April 22, 2016. It is known as the Pink Moon and may look full a day before and after to the casual observer. – See more at: http://www.space.com/16830-full-moon-calendar.html#sthash.NPzYK34A.dpuf  Apparently, last night, I was a “casual observer.”  The image of the moon, up top, is borrowed from the internet: (www.universetoday.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/full-moon.jpg)