Trip to the Emergency Room

01.29.09 | Comment?

Registration in the Emergency Room at Mills-Peninsula Hospital in Burlingame, California taken through iphone camera with fish-eye transformation

Yesterday, our daughter woke up with a temperature of 104 F (40 C) and throughout the day she complained of stomach pain and didn’t eat or drink much. By late afternoon, her fever had come down, but she was still not interested in eating and complained of stomach cramps.

The advice nurse and on-call physician indicated that it was probably flu (there’s a nasty bit of that going around right now) but that they wanted to rule out appendicitis. So we bundled into the car and visited the Emergency Room at Mills-Peninsula hospital in Burlingame. Not being a frequent visitor to ERs, I hadn’t realized how much they are used. And this one seemed to have a disproportionate number of solo seniors; that is to say, very elderly people with no personal escort of family or friends. In one instance, a taxi dropped off a clearly ill gentleman who had to be helped into the ER.

While it wasn’t a scene from a movie where there are bleeding people with body parts hanging off and fluids oozing all over, it was a brisk night. We made it in around 6:30 pm and checked-in. We then waited for about 30 minutes until a very nice nurse performed initial triage and recorded vital signs and administered some children’s ibuprofen. After that, we had another few minutes before the admission and insurance procedure; my daughter thought the plastic bracelet was cool at first. But that didn’t last.

After another 30 minutes or so they moved us from the waiting room into a small room inside the ER where a series of nurses, physician’s assistants, and physicians visited periodically over the time of our stay collecting more information and specimens culminating in a diagnosis that wasn’t flu and wasn’t appendicitis, but another treatable infection. Thus armed with a prescription for antibiotics we went to the local 24 hour pharmacy to acquire the treatment and headed home where we arrived about 12:30 am.

The points to this story? One, the Mills-Peninsula staff is really fabulous. They treated our daughter and us as parents with respect, dignity, and a sense of humanity. Two, sometimes an unexpected diagnosis can occur and it’s worth getting defects/symptoms checked out. And finally, with the health care crisis we’re facing in this country, we don’t often hear about the plight of these solo seniors, let’s not forget them as we change the system.

All in all, while it was a long process, I’m pleased with the outcome.

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