I had the opportunity, a couple of years ago, to speak with an police officer who
personified the “Protect and Serve” mindset. An elderly, very confused
gentleman, with a baseline mentation deficit, was brought in to the hospital
at the instigation of the officer.
Having been dispatched for a "welfare check", he found this soul confused,
and in the officer's estimation, "looked sick." We evaluated the patient, and
tried to (start to) fix his medical issues. While waiting for the lab results, the
officer and I chatted. The officer related to me that he was an officer,
“not for the attorney with a 150,000 dollar car and a nice house: he doesn’t
need me. That guy, over there: he depends on me to do the right thing.
He is why I took that oath.”
Once we had finished caring for the gentleman, and were ready to discharge
him, another officer from this same (yeah, rural) department came and took
him home, seeing him safely into his apartment.
Another occasion, same rural police department, same officer. This time he
accompanied an EMS transport. This soul was in custody, so the officer parked
himself outside the room, to keep an eye on his charge. During their stay, in
the room across the hallway, was a child, who was very dubious about the
entire "going to the hospital" thing. This officer was approached by the fearful
child, who momentarily had his fears overcome with curiosity about a
live-and-in-person police officer. This officer was very engaged with the child,
producing wide eyed interest as the boy lectured the officer on the ins and outs
of frogs, and minutiae of their lives in the wild. He (the officer) offered a few frog
insights of his own, and the two of them had an animated conversation there in
my ED hallway.
The rest of my encounter with the boy was made considerably smoother, when
the officer asked the boy, "Are you behaving for my friend Reltney? Yeah, he
may be a doctor (well, a PA at this point, but, ya know...), but he's pretty nice.
Give him a chance, wontcha?"
My point? There has been come conversation of “Officer as social worker”
becoming part of the police toolbox. This theme is not new, although it used
to be called "walking the beat, and knowing your beat". Some officers, who
are each a credit to their profession, have been employing that tool for a
long time. And, in some regards, to steal a phrase from the American
Nurses' Association, "Patient Care is Everywhere!" Some of the practitioners
are not formally licensed in health professions. And, some of us simply see
it as being a good neighbor.
One thought on “Patient Care Is Everywhere!”
On occasion I hear that debate: peace officer vs law enforcement officer.