Welcome to The Show City Non-Emergency Room, where we treat your emergency like it isn't, because we're busy treating other people's non-emergencies like they are.
Dear Show City Non-Emergency Room,
Last week I took my daughter to the Show City Non-Emergency room because, after three weeks of unanswered questions, a seemingly unconcerned/passive doctor, and a day of extreme, intolerable physical pain, Amelia needed to get some care in an urgent way. You could say it was an emergency.
However, I failed to read the signs that were clearly marked all around the hospital. I guess I just assumed that they said Show City Emergency Room, so I didn't read that carefully. Imagine my chagrin when I left the hospital in extreme frustration and, for the first time, saw the sign clearly, which indeed said: Show City Non-Emergency Room (SCNER). What a difference a prefix can make.
If I had read correctly the first time, both my daughter and I would have been spared the agony and irritation of waiting to be seen while gazing repeatedly around the room at the other patients that we mistakenly assumed were also emergencies. When we did finally get called in by the triage nurse we were able to see the computer screen listing the NER patients and their ailments such as sore throat, or headache, cough, or stubbed toe.
I would also have understood why, when we entered the NER, the intake clerk looked at my daughter's sobs, tear-stained face, and inability to walk with the blankest of all blank expressions in the history of the medical profession. I thought for sure when a medical professional saw someone in extreme pain they would do everything they could to help the situation, possibly even placing them ahead in priority of the woman with a light, infrequent cough. But of course it turned out they were only in the business of treating non-emergencies.
As we sat and waited hour after hour, the amazement and alarm in my mind grew. We saw several people in seemingly good spirits and no apparent discomfort sitting peacefully, watching late-night TV, chuckling softly in peaceful glee. We saw a family with two happy little girls consuming product after product from the vending machine, as though the whole thing were a picnic. Around one a.m. we noticed a couple making out and snuggling against the wall just before being called in for treatment. A couples retreat to the ER? Then there were the people absentmindedly snacking on Cheetos at 1:30. That really didn't seem like an emergency.
Around 2:00 am we noticed three female college students who were snuggling together, laughing, reading the bible aloud to each other, and singing softly with each other This just about pushed me over the edge. WHY ARE THESE PEOPLE IN THE EMERGENCY ROOM?
It was a few minutes after that that Amelia turned to me and said, "Dad, let's just go home. This is doing no good. At least at home I can try to sleep before we go to the CT scan appointment in the morning."
And after four hours, out we walked. Fortunately, Amelia's pain had subsided a bit for the time being.
Of course, hindsight is 20/20. I should have made a big fuss, I have now learned that. The squeaky wheel gets the grease, I now see. But that became a moot point once I correctly read the sign; had I squeaked I probably would have been given a response like, "Oh, I'm sorry sir. This is the NON-emergency room. You'll need to go to another hospital if you have an EMERGENCY."
So why then, am I writing this letter? Just to make a teeny weeny suggestion. How about having the intake nurse clarify that your facility is a NON-Emergency room, right up front? Maybe highlighting that fact that is so deeply buried in the pages of paperwork would help as well, asking responsible parties to initial, showing that it is not place to go if your case is urgent. Then patients would better be able to find a facility that treats EMERGENCIES.
Thanks for nuthin,
Jason Show disclaimer: The writers of this episode understand that Jason is not a medical professional, nor could he possibly understand the inner-workings of an emergency room. This letter was written in frustration from the point of view of a dissatisfied hospital patron whose daughter was in extreme pain during the time that treatment was sought. The Jason Show would also like to encourage individuals who have emergencies to just call an ambulance, which would ensure prompt ER treatment.