Sunday at St. Joe’s


The day begins at 2:10 a.m. when the phone rings, waking me up.  I answer it but there’s nobody there.  This is the fourth hang-up phone call I’ve gotten since I stood up on my hind legs (this being just a figure of speech) and started filing complaints last week.  My guess is that, as a result of my complaints, some nurse has been closely questioned and she’s harassing me in retaliation.

I shoot an email to the manager of Security Services, Parking & Access Control, who has assured me that he can back-track the calls if the caller leaves the line open for five seconds.  I want this silly bitch fired.  A nurse who’s harassing a patient?  Duh.

Here’s the thing, anybody who is doing their job right has absolutely nothing to fear from me.  However, if you are taking public money to provide a service and are not meeting the standards set for performance, then you’ve got a problem with me.  All I am is a reporter; I report what you are doing to people higher up who can make sure that you stop doing it.  It’s that simple.

So the Security manager is a nice guy, which is unusual in that every other executive I’ve talked to here is female—one vice president and two directors.  Does it matter?  As of this writing, I have no opinion.  The security guy’s biggest problem is that when they built the new Emergency Department (it’s a building, not a room) they put it in his biggest parking lot.  That cost him three hundred parking spaces and now he is negotiating with Centro bus company for a solution.

It is my personal opinion that some woman with two sick kids should not have to schlep up the hill in the snow from a parking lot down below while her doctor drives into the covered, attached parking garage.  He stays parked while a succession of his patients do the schlep thing.  If I ran the hospital, doctors would use the valet parking and have their cars deported to Solvay until closing time.

I wake again at six or seven o’clock, all depending.  Day Light Savings Time ended last night and I don’t know whether my clock got turned back by the Great Godfather of Timepieces or whether I’m still on DLS time.  It turns out that I’m still on DLST.  Some rooms were not properly wired for clocks, therefore some rooms—mine, for example—have battery operated clocks.  Some guy’s got to come around and hand re-set my clock while the Great Godfather machine re-sets everything that was plugged into the wall.

Pat, who is a nice old nurse—about my age—comes in.  We do our water-Accu-Chek-juice thing every morning.  I like old nurses.  They settle into a routine and get it right on a regular basis.  Then a new patient is admitted and they get into a new routine.  The young nurses are making it up as they go along; they haven’t figured out yet that it’s just a series of interchangeable routines.  I ask her if there is a protestant service.  The answer is no.  Mass is at 9:00 a.m.; it is now 8:30—unless it is 7:30.

At ten minutes of seven—or eight—I order breakfast from Room Service and am told that it will arrive within forty-five minutes.  It does not.  It arrives in fifty minutes and the eggs, sausage and toast are stone cold.  The meal was cooked and plated, then it sat somewhere while it cooled off.  The coffee is still hot but I ordered two cups and the order-taker only entered it as one.  I am too hungry to wait another hour for hot food, so I eat it cold and order another coffee that they say will be sent right up.  It arrives half an hour later.

The nurse helps me get cleaned up—Jody’s been doing this about seventeen years and knows what she’s doing.  That’s the good news.  The bad news is that she only does it on weekends.  Weekdays she does school nursing and home nursing.  Could St. Joe’s be making better use of her expertise?

Jody calls Transport to get me to Mass.  Transport says they don’t transport to Mass.  Jody thinks it’s because they don’t have enough people.  I think it’s because they don’t the right priorities.  What kind of people put medicine ahead of God?  Oh, gee, all of America.  What kind of a Roman Catholic hospital won’t take patients to Mass?  I am seriously considering ratting them out to the Pope.

Doctors go to Aruba for vacations.  Nurses buy $80 shoes in the lobby.  Patients get cold food because there aren’t enough “hostesses,” and can’t go to Mass because there are no transporters.

Teach us to care and not to care
Teach us to sit still.

Pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death
Pray for us now and at the hour of our death

About annecwoodlen

I am a tenth generation American, descended from a family that has been working a farm that was deeded to us by William Penn. The country has changed around us but we have held true. I stand in my grandmother’s kitchen, look down the valley to her brother’s farm and see my great-great-great-great-great-grandmother Hannah standing on the porch. She is holding the baby, surrounded by four other children, and saying goodbye to her husband and oldest son who are going off to fight in the Revolutionary War. The war is twenty miles away and her husband will die fighting. We are not the Daughters of the American Revolution; we were its mothers. My father, Milton C. Woodlen, got his doctorate from Temple University in the 1940’s when—in his words—“a doctorate still meant something.” He became an education professor at West Chester State Teachers College, where my mother, Elizabeth Hope Copeland, had graduated. My mother raised four girls and one boy, of which I am the middle child. My parents are deceased and my siblings are estranged. My fiancé, Robert H. Dobrow, was a fighter pilot in the Marine Corps. In 1974, his plane crashed, his parachute did not open, and we buried him in a cemetery on Long Island. I could say a great deal about him, or nothing; there is no middle ground. I have loved other men; Bob was my soul mate. The single greatest determinate of who I am and what my life has been is that I inherited my father’s gene for bipolar disorder, type II. Associated with all bipolar disorders is executive dysfunction, a learning disability that interferes with the ability to sort and organize. Despite an I.Q. of 139, I failed twelve subjects and got expelled from high school and prep school. I attended Syracuse University and Onondaga Community College and got an associate’s degree after twenty-five years. I am nothing if not tenacious. Gifted with intelligence, constrained by disability, and compromised by depression, my employment was limited to entry level jobs. Being female in the 1960’s meant that I did office work—billing at the university library, calling out telegrams at Western Union, and filing papers at a law firm. During one decade, I worked at about a hundred different places as a temporary secretary. I worked for hospitals, banks, manufacturers and others, including the county government. I quit the District Attorney’s Office to manage a gas station; it was more honest work. After Bob’s death, I started taking antidepressants. Following doctor’s orders, I took them every day for twenty-six years. During that time, I attempted%2
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2 Responses to Sunday at St. Joe’s

  1. Marie says:

    Anne, You are such a wonderfully-detailed and gifted writer. I just wish you didn’t have to write about wrong decisions, substandard care/methodology and contradictions. I hope and pray that the outcome of current investigations along with your common sense reporting leads to improvement for you and all others there. Much respect, Marie

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