I just watched this amazing documentary last night called The Waiting Room, which focuses on a 24 hr cycle at Oakland’s Highland Hospital waiting room.
It’s completely authentic. While Highland isn’t where I work, it’s awfully close (geographically, and socioeconomically) — and there are so many parallels. People getting trapped waiting for care with no where else to turn, the hospital doing all it can as fast as it can but still being completely swamped — the patient populace, of people down on their luck who have no where else to go, from the people who just want to be well enough to go back to work, to the people who couldn’t stay straight if you gave them a person sized ruler who’ve gone and blown their last chance, the staff who try to give their patients dignity and a maintain a sense of humor throughout everything — it’s just amazing. And it’s only streaming on PBS for three more nights, so you should check it out while you still can.
Ironically, while I was writing this post, my own work called for me to come in early. We’re slammed, again, and they need all hands on deck. I’m going to turn my normal 8 into a 12 (and going to try to nap for a bit in a second here to brace for the onslaught when I get there.) I cannot explain to you how busy we’ve been lately, but we’ve been running our asses off with no breaks for a month. I mentioned this on twitter, but it’s worth saying here too, that you don’t go in early for the overtime — you go in early to try to get the prior shift out of the weeds so that your own shift isn’t quite so fucked, heh.
At least on my floor though, our patient population is variable. Sometimes we really are slow — plus, I’m part time. I have no idea how full-time ED nurses and doctors do it, day after day.
Anyhow, time to nap now. But watch that documentary before it goes away — it’s a real look at hospital work on the front lines.