You see all types of injuries in the Accident Room at Charity. Most were knuckleheads shooting each other over drugs or drug territory; or drunkards doing things that made no sense to a sober person. This self-destructive behavior kept the Charity Accident Room busy and trained lots of young doctors and nurses. But there was also a lot of trauma where the patient was just a victim.
I was on call for orthopedics when a woman in her mid-thirties was wheeled back to the orthopedic area of the Accident Room on a gurney. She was covered in mud and wet clothes and had one black eye swollen shut. She had a plaster splint on her right wrist that was also muddy and wet. After assessment and x-rays – she also had a dislocated shoulder, broken ankle, broken femur, and a broken wrist that had been recently splinted. Her main concern that she told me over and over was, “please don’t make me talk to the social worker.” Honestly, I didn’t know that there was a social worker at Charity. I told her not to worry, she did not need to see the social worker. We reduced her shoulder and replaced her wrist splint in the Accident Room and later did surgery on her ankle and femur.
She was a country gal. She lived out of town on some Bayou – she could speak Cajun French and English. After several days in the hospital, I asked what had happen to her and why the worries about the social worker. She was reluctant at first, but eventually opened up. About a week before this hospitalization, she was beaten by her husband giving her the black eye and broken wrist. She had been brought to Charity by a friend and had the wrist fracture treated. While at Charity, a social worker had talked to her about domestic violence. The social worker told her to let her husband know that what he did was illegal and she could press charges. During the next abusive episode by her husband, she mentioned what the social worker had said. He did not like the social worker’s advice.
He put her in the trunk of his car and took her out in the Bayou and threw her off a bridge. She eventually climbed up the embankment near the bridge and tried to flag down a car. It was dark and she was hit by the car she was trying to flag down. She was then brought back to Charity wet and muddy and with all the injuries. She did not want any more advice from the Social Worker.
When it was time for discharge, her sister came to Charity to take her back to her place. She told me the local Sheriff was looking for the husband, but he had disappeared into the Bayou.