Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Warren Sparrow. Emergency Room Check in tips


This is a tale with an unusual twist. It begins in a place we

all dread: The Emergency Room.

How I hate The Emergency Room. The operative word for this

deadly place is "wait." The lucky ones arrive at the ER by ambulance. They

aretreated first. They are the chosen ones. Everybody else waits. Then

there are the extra-special ones. They arrive by helicopter. Let me tell you,

those cats are the pick of the emergency-room litter. The rest of us?


The next time you wait in an emergency room, perhaps you should

consider doing what one of our local heroes did last week. May I

caution you about an important detail: This plan will not work in towns which

have only one emergency room. Here is what happened:

Suffering from a substance-abuse malady, a man sought treatment

at the Wake Forest University Baptist Hospital Emergency Room. This is a

top-flight trauma center, one which sports a snazzy black and gold

helicopter. Like most folks, our hero arrived at the ER in a private

automobile. Once inside, he was told to wait. So, he waited. The

longer he waited, the more distressed he became. Sound familiar?

He watched as the ER staff flitted about, talking on cell

phones and doing things for people brought in by ambulance. Left out of the

Baptist ER loop for hours, the man saw an opportunity to change things.

At the entrance to the ER sat an unattended truck with its engine humming.

Our hero bolted from the Baptist ER, hopped behind the wheel and

drove to another emergency room a mile away. His plan worked. Of

course he was treated quickly. He had arrived at the second ER in an ambulance.

Paul Harvey, eat your heart out.

-Warren Sparrow