Thursday, January 28, 2010


When I work shifts in the hospital, I respond to certain overhead pages--codes, of course, and then various "Alerts." A fairly common alert is a Cardiac Alert, which is sounded when a patient displays a suite of medical indicators that suggest the ticker is not ticking as it should. A Cardiac Alert generates a team of individuals who gather at the patient's bedside--portable X-ray, portable EKG, lab, nursing, a cardiologist, and a hapless chaplain, whose job is generally that of escorting the patient's family and friends to the appropriate waiting room. Cardiac alerts sometimes are called in the emergency department even before the patient arrives, which causes the assembled team to stand inside the ambulance entrance like some demented Welcome Wagon group. I feel at a loss there, with no machine or basket of tubes or white coat. I have to bite my tongue to keep from saying, "Welcome to XYZ Hospital. Would you like coffee, tea, or an angioplasty?"

One day a husband and wife were in the emergency department because the husband had been taken ill. They were in a room, a doctor had seen them, he was feeling a bit better, and they were watching TV and waiting patiently. Over the loudspeaker they heard the page: "Cardiac alert; emergency department; room 7. Cardiac alert; emergency department; room 7." The husband said, "Gosh, someone here must be REALLY sick." They took a moment to hope the person would pull through. Then the husband wondered, "Is this happening near us? What room are WE in?" The wife stepped out to look at their room number. "Uh... We're in room...7..." Seconds later the cardiac alert team burst into their room. I would imagine that if he wasn't having a heart attack before he had one then. Truly he had no idea; whatever the doctor had said to them, they didn't see this (us) coming.

He DID pull through, and what a story for the grandkids.


Blogger WordDoc said...

I like your hapless chaplain stories.

8:57 PM  
Blogger StorytellERdoc said...

LOL...oh crap, we're in room 7! I can just imagine those faces when they realized it. Glad he did well! great post!

4:53 PM  

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