August 3rd, 2004

White Coat

Dear George...

I heard it as I was sitting in the charting area, at the end of the day. Social Work says to a nurse, "Your grandmother did it too?" She's got a letter from a 70-year-old patient in isolation. It's to the President, from whom, allegedly, she has been receiving letters asking for money to help with back troubles. Dear George, it reads. Please do not ask me to help you any longer. I cannot afford to pay for my own medical bills. Twenty thousand dollars, this woman has sent to scam artists claiming to be the President or someone else important. And why? "She says," Social Work tells the nurse, "that she was raised to help someone who needed it. How could she not help?"

I don't know the patient. All I know is that he was naked and outside and hyperglycaemic. "No, that's all the story. We don't know what happened. He doesn't remember."

I miss O, my resident at $county_hospital, calm and brilliant and organized. S is a good resident; he wants me to have a chance to get to know the system before becoming overwhelmed by patients. And he covers my patients as if they were his own. My patient, rather, as I had only one admission today from the shining new and modern Emergency Room at $hospital where I will be spending my next month. I am capped - no more than 2-3 admissions a day, no more than 5 or 6 patients at a time. I will be taking call with S; most nights, at least. He doesn't want me to take call with him on a Sunday, that's too much work, so I will have to find another time to take a call in order to make up my 5 required calls. Today, I took orders and made phone calls and suggested things. Today, I got a handful in my one patient, and we wonder if he'll be here in the morning.

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Perhaps, O Best Beloved, I understand more than I think I do.
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