I left the “big free” in 1990 so many of my Charity memories are hidden in my brain somewhere. I do remember that the book “House of God” by S. Shem was popular when I was going to nursing school at Charity Hospital School of Nursing (where REAL nurses were created) and many of the terms in the book I actually still use today. “GOMER” and “GOMERE” come to mind. How to turf an undesirable patient to another service: example put the bed in the highest position with the side rails down ultimately leads to turfing to neuro service. I am sure there are others. I worked night shift in the Emergency Department mostly in the “Worst Admit” (West Admit) department. After a year of rotating with another supervisor, I became burned out with the nightly gunshots and stabbings and deaths mostly related to the drug issues of the time. A lot of victims were teenagers and young children. I found that I preferred the “mystery” of the medical patient. I remember the interns developed the “Louisiana black snake award” for the patients with overdoses. There wasn’t a lot of down time in the emergency department so there were antics involved on the night shift. I wish I could find the 50 question nurse test that we included in our nursing orientation packets for the ED with questions like What is the typical response from respiratory therapy when you request a ventilator? a. We don’t have any. b. I will have to put one together. c. A what?! d. Hmmm… may take a while.
I recall being in primary triage in the waiting room and hearing the cock of a shotgun and a man shouting, “Where is my old lady?!” and ducking down behind the wooden triage desk. No bullet-proof glass or protection of any kind back then. Then the day a prisoner stole a prison guard’s sidearm – very scary. On the positive side, the lives saved in Room 4 – receiving a patient, intervening and documenting in less than 5 minutes and transporting the patient to the operating room. Most of these trauma patients, unfortunately, did not make it but every once in a while we would get a return customer with the horizontal chest scar from a previous visit (even less likely to make it the second time).
There were long waiting times in the Emergency Department. You could estimate the wait times by the trash in the waiting room, especially the Popeye’s and other fried chicken bags. Let’s not forget those famous “egg” sandwiches. I do recall an 80-something female sitting in a wheelchair (hard to find) whose name was called earlier that date but was in the no answer pile of charts at secondary triage. We always recalled patients 3 times to make sure they were not still there. The primary triage nurse called me at that time and reported that a visitor had come to her desk stating that a woman in the waiting room looked “funny.” I went out to check and the elderly female was lifeless, no breathing and no pulse. Her elderly brother was sitting near her and had not heard her name called earlier. I brought the woman in the wheelchair back to the code cubicle in MER (Medical Emergency Room, West Admit) and we placed her on the stretcher. Rigor had already set in so we could not straighten her out. We did not proceed with resuscitation at that point.
I am sorry that I did not write a lot of things down during my time at CHNO. There were depressing times but also some good times. We did a lot of good there with little resources. I especially liked the night shift on Mardi Gras day. So many inebriated patients who made the night go by faster. Lots of banana bags.
I hope people contribute to this website and/or book.