Pains in my Fifth Point of Contact

Cletus and the sick note

Perhaps you have heard of The Cornosvirus, aka The Wuhan novel Coronavirus, aka the WuFlu, aka The CCP Pox, aka The Shanghai Sniffles. Now known, PC-ly, as C.O.V.I.D. (sounds like a Bond villain, don’t it?). So, TINS©, TIWFDASL©, and Cletus, trivially ill, wandered in, requesting a test for the Coronavirus as well as a return to work note (he related that he had called off sick for a couple of days, and, and needed a doctor note in order to return to work). He related that he had run out of paid time off, and needed to return to work.

The next day, my registrar hunted me down, and presented me with the dilemma: his employer had called, asking what to do about Cletus. Cletus had evidently informed his employer that he, Cletus, had been tested for the WuFlu, and they (the employer) were asking what to do about Cletus returning to work?

“My note stated that he was medically released to return to work, once he had a negative coronavirus test result in hand.”

My registrar returned, “But his result won’t be reported for another 4-5 days.”

“Yep. And, once he has that negative result in hand, he can return to work.”

“I told them that. They are on hold, still asking me what to do about Cletus.”

“Lemme talk to them!”

I picked up, announced myself, and asked what I could do for them?

“We don’t know what to do about Cletus, since he does not have his test result, but your note says that he can return to work.”

“Ma’am, my recommendation is that you follow your organization policy regarding employees who have been tested for coronavirus, and pending results.”

“But, he doesn’t look sick, and we don’t know of any exposure to C.O.V.I.D.!”

“Uh-huh. So, what do you folks do about any other employee who has been tested for coronavirus, and does not have results yet?”

“They have to quarantine at home, until ten days or a negative test report.”

“Perhaps it would be a good idea to follow your organization’s policy in this regard.”

Fun And Games · Gratitude · Life in Da City! · Pains in my Fifth Point of Contact

Random Thoughts Part VI

Assessment of the elderly, sounding confused.

When I am assessing a patient, and ask, in my interview, ref location/day of month/day of week/name/etcetera, when you are not the patient, and YOU answer, talking over the patient, please realize that IDGAF about YOUR mentation, and when you coach the patient, it really, really interferes with my assessment. Plus, it is entirely likely that I myself KNOW the place/day/date/season/etcetera, because, you can bet your ass that if it were NOT Tuesday March the 41st, I would certainly be somewhere else, doing something else, other than attempting to struggle my way through your interruptions of my evaluation of your parent.

In a similar vein, when I ask Jim-Bob where he hurts, probably, when you coach Jim-Bob, admonishing him to “Tell the doctor where you hurt”, you are not really contributing any value whatsoever to the interview. If Jim-Bob indeed comprehends my question, you are only adding noise and distraction and likely, that is NOT helpful. If, on the other hand, Jim-Bob does not understand my query, your repeating it IN THE VERY SAME FREAKING WORDS, neither adds to the information that I require, so that I may care for Jim-Bob properly, nor facilitates timely implementation of that care. So, unless Jim-Bob does NOT speak Engrish, himself, please STFU, and allow me to interview the patient. Or, perhaps, go boil some water, gather a fresh newspaper and some clean shoelaces, right now, please.

Which will, of course, require you depart the exam room and allow me to complete my interview and examination.

Thank you.

Thoughts about Cost vs Price:

Lowe’s “bargain bin” AA battery powered cell phone charger: $10

Having several in your Bag-O’-Tricks at work, so you can hand one to a patient you’re sending to ED via ambulance, whose phone is dead: Kharma.

Having that guy get my cheap-o, bought-on-a-whim charger back to me, with a thank you: PRICELESS!

EMS LAW OF ALTITUDE: Patient’s weight divided by number of floors above street level equals a constant, “K”. Therefore, a 300 pound inert patient on the first floor is roughly equivalent to a 1200 pound patient on the 4th floor. With no functional elevator. And the first due engine company out on a working fire.

(redacted)’s Law: (I don’t have permission to use his name, but it’s not *MY* formulation) When responding to an EMS call, and you are pretty sure that you are on the correct block, but, for some reason, folks in this neighborhood do NOT have any house numbers, seek out the most tumbledown anonymous house on that block, and knock, Your patient awaits inside.

(redacted’s partner)’s Corollary Number One: The one house on the block with ghetto gates (bars on the doors and windows), is your call.

Corollary Number Two: Occupants of the house with the gates KNOW who is performing all the neighborhood B & Es.

Corollary Number Three: There is nothing inside the grilled house worth stealing. The decor is milk crates, cast offs, soiled mattresses on the floor. Even odds that the smell makes the place a haz mat scene.

Final Thought”

Please, please, please! If your physician has ALREADY prescribed a medication for your affliction, take the freaking med, BEFORE your come to my clinic stating that you require treatment for that selfsame affliction! Because, it could happen that my self control may lapse, and I may, indeed, ask you just how exactly I may help you, when you not only were prescribed, but physically picked up, the very medication that I would have prescribed (and, indeed, wound up prescribing) for your problem.

But, OF COURSE, you weren’t here to get a work note! Totally!

Duty · Having A Good Partner Is Very Important! · Life in Da City!

Paying Attention Is Important

So, TINS (c), TIWFDASL (c), and working in Da Corridor. This was Da City’s, well, let us say, in paraphrase of the immortal words of Old Ben Kenobi, “Da Corridor: You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy!” So, not the nice part of Da City.

I was working “The Corridor”, and an academy classmate, let us call him Gordon Lightfoot, was detailed in that day from another house. At this point of time, TBTCIDC was closed, as they were in the midst of moving kit and caboodle to the shiny, new, and in-the-medical-center hospital they had just opened. (Well, it had not been opened, just yet, and that little detail will figure prominently in this tale!) The hospital that was TBTCIDC’s “stand-in” was NOT generally the trauma center, but was in the medical center.

We caught call after call, transported sick (and a lot of not-so-sick) people, and generally saved lives. Our next run was on an asthma patient, and off we went. In fact, this particular address was only a block from the medical center.

We arrived, announced ourselves, and acquainted ourselves with this person’s malady. I brought the stair chair, and we wheeled this soul out to the ambulance, and settled them onto the cot. I had JUST entered the cab, preparatory to a leisurely trip to The Stand In Hospital, when Gordon stuck his head through the window connecting the cab with the patient compartment, and bellowed, “Reltney! He’s arrested!”

I hopped around to the back, and helped Gordon get set up for a spot of in transit CPR. Once he was set, I re entered the cab, and called dispatch: “Medic One, Code One, Stand In Hospital. Cardiac arrest, witnessed. Eta One Minute!”

Dispatch acknowledged. I tuned in the hospital alert frequency, and called: “Stand In Hospital, come in for Priority One traffic!”

They acknowledged, and I started my turn out into traffic, lights flashing, and siren wailing. “Witnessed cardiac arrest! CPR in progress! ETA one minute!”

The nurse on the radio was not clear on the message. “Say your ETA?”

“Open the doors! We’re here!”

Fun And Games Off Duty

Toddler Logic

When my daughter was just a toddler, she began to dress herself. Of course, it had hit and miss days. This day, she would be appropriate, that day she would be attempting to go out doors in 50 degree weather in shorts and a tank top.

So, one day, her mother was off at school, I had the day off, and Brenda came downstairs in long pants, over which she was wearing a dress. Overtop this she had a long sleeved blouse, which was peeking out from beneath a sweater.

I stopped her. “Honey, you need to dress in one outfit, not several. You look like a bag lady.”

At three, she had her own mind. “I’m NOT a bag lady!”

I agreed. “That’s true, but you are dressed like you were a bag lady. Go back to your room, take that stuff off, dress in one outfit, and put the rest of the clothes away.”

She crossed her arms, and laid down the law. “I am *NOT* a bag lady!”

I repeated myself. “honey, I realize that you are not a bag lady, but you are dressed in something like a bag lady uniform. Now, go back upstairs, select one outfit, wear that outfit, put the rest of those clothes away neatly, and come back downstairs. You cannot go out dressed like you were a bag lady!”

She set her feet, crossed her arms, cocked her head, and set me straight.

“I’m *NOT* a bag lady, you fat old man!”

Duty · Having A Good Partner Is Very Important!

PROFESSIONALISM, PART II

So, Carmen, my grand daughter, had a couple of additional Magical Mystery Tours of Peds ICU. Brenda, her mom, wound their way through the maze of physicians, and specialists, treating, and attempting to diagnose, what was underlying our recurrent Monday-evening-Grandpa-visits.

Eventually, one of the specialists determined that a surgery would mitigate Carmen’s breathing difficulties, and so a surgical date was set, in a distant Big City Medical Center. Brenda told both of her parents, and her conversation with me went along the lines of “Dad, so Carmen is going to have surgery on (date), at Big City Pediatric Hospital.”

(Dad): “uh huh. I’ll be there.”

(Brenda): “Uh, Dad? So, Mom is gonna be there, too.”

(Dad): “Uh huh. Why would there be any question about that?”

(Brenda):”Well, I know you guys are going through that divorce, and things might be…tense..if you were both in the same room.”:

(Dad):”Well, Honey, your mom is a grown up professional, I flatter myself that I am a grown up professional, and while we are there with you, for that time, what I think about your mother, or what she thinks about me, well, nobody cares. This is about you and Carmen, and nothing else is on my plate for that time. I don’t anticipate any drama coming from either of us. I know I won’t cause any drama, and I am confident that your mother will not, either.”

So, we met at the appointed time, and greeted each other. Carmen received her IV, and was pre medicated, and rested on her mother’s lap, soon falling asleep. I have a photograph, somewhere, of Carmen, relaxedly asleep, on Brenda’s lap, Brenda appearing fatigued herself.

Carmen went for her surgery, and returned, post operatively. Carmen had an uneventful post operative course, and Brenda took her child home. Today, a dozen years later, Carmen is newly adolescent, The Big Sister, and perfectly healthy.

Oh, and my pre and post op interactions with The Plaintiff? Benevolent, professional, and child (and grandchild) focused. No drama.

Duty · Fun And Games Off Duty · Gratitude · Pre Planning Your Scene · Sometimes You Get to Think That You Have Accomplished Something!

PROFESSIONALISM

While my divorce was unwinding, I was working midnights in the ED of Mid Sized Hospital in the Adjacent Relatively Big City. I had a seven on/seven off schedule, which worked out pretty well for the week on/week off custody schedule for the youngest two kids.

So, TINS©, TIWFDASL© (well, to be precise, I was standing in my kitchen, looking around to see what I had forgotten to pack for the night to come), when my phone rang. My darling daughter was on the line. “Hey, Dad! How would you like to come over and take a look at your grand daughter?”

“I’m always up to visit my grand daughter, as well as her mother! What’s the occasion?”

“Well, Carmen is having some difficulty breathing, and I’d like you to look at her and tell me what to do.”

“Be right over. Unlock your door!”

A couple of minutes later, I was knocking on her door, stethoscope around my neck. Brenda opened the door, and I heard Carmen wheezing from across the room. “Call the ambulance, right now!”

Brenda was unconvinced. “Dad, if we call the ambulance, they will simply take her to Local Small Town Hospital. They will simply wind up transferring her to Next Town Big Hospital. Why don’t we just drive her to Big Hospital, ourselves?”

Good time for me to collect data. “Honey, do either you or baby daddy know CPR?”

“Um, no.”

“Y’all have oxygen in your car?”

“No!”

“You guys have any way to alert Big Hospital ED that you are coming in hot with a critically ill child?”

“You know we don’t!”

“So, let’s call EMS, who do indeed know all those things, and have all those things, so that they can treat Carmen properly, hmm?”

“We’ll just drive her over to Small Town Hospital, ourselves.”

“NOW, sweetheart. Right now!”

“I just have to…”

“No, you don’t. Get your ass on the way, right freaking now, and no more delay. Now!”

As they cleared the door, I phoned Local Hospital ED, where I had been an ED nurse, and provided a heads up. “Hey, my daughter is on the way with my grand daughter, who is in respiratory distress. Under a year of age.”

“When will they be here?”

“Open your door, now!”

I locked up, and made my way to Local ED. Once there, I saw the staff meeting that was a pediatric critical child. The ED physician was in the room, my daughter and baby daddy, two ED nurses, a respiratory therapist, the lab, and a couple of other folks that I could not make out in the crowd. I spoke to my daughter, and told her that I was off to work, and I’d stop by in the morning to see how things were going.

I called my daughter the next morning, on my way out of work, and met her at the Big Hospital Peds ICU. She told me that, unsurprisingly (to me), Local Hospital had tested, x rayed, oxygen-ed, and IV-d Carmen, and then transferred her to Big Hospital, via Peds Mobile ICU ambulance. Carmen was considerably improved over last night. I could not hear any wheezing, and she appeared to breathing easily within her oxygen tent. I said my hello to Carmen, ascertained if my daughter needed anything from me, and said my goodbyes to return home, and to bed.

Carmen was discharged the following day, and Brenda had a ream of instructions, as well as the opportunity to administer breathing treatments, as well as oral medications, to an infant several times daily. As a civilian, not a nurse.

A couple of weeks later, I was again preparing for work, and, again, received a phone call from my daughter, again inviting me to visit Carmen. “Always delighted to visit. What’s the occasion, this time?”

“She’s struggling to breathe, and the breathing treatment did not seem to help today.”

I instructed Brenda to immediately go directly to Local Hospital ED. “But, they will simply send her to Big Hospital again!”

“Yep, that is entirely likely. As is the fact that they will send her in a peds MICU, with a physician, respiratory therapist, and a couple of paramedics. All of which I highly approve of. Now, get going, right now!”

I, again, met Brenda at our local ED, again Carmen was the center of a veritable staff roll call in the treatment room, and, again, that evening she was whisked as described, approvingly, above, back to peds ICU at Big Hospital.

I stopped by the next morning. Brenda greeted me. “Dad, just like you said, they transferred her by ambulance back here. When we arrived, all the ICU nurses remembered Carmen, and were crying as they brought in the vent, the crash cart, and the intubation cart. Mom was here, and, gotta tell you, I was trying as hard as I could to keep it together for Carmen. The nurses’ crying was *NOT* helping! If mom had not been here, I would have lost my mind!”

I replied, “Honey, your mom is a pretty good nurse, and she keeps her head really well in a crisis. I’m really glad that she was here for you!”

And, at that point, I did the smartest thing I had done in a while. Right then, I shut up!

Gratitude · Having A Good Partner Is Very Important! · Sometimes You Get to Think That You Have Accomplished Something!

“He Didn’t Have To Be”

Well, campers, the sun is shining, it is 40-something outside, and that means that, in The Un-Named Flyover State, it is time to start sunbathing!

Well, almost, but not quite. In any event, it is time to reflect, gratefully, on the looming advent of spring. And, that turns me back to my recent theme, gratitude and thankfulness.

In 2006-2007, The Plaintiff divorced me. It was a dark time. I had taken-for-granted (perhaps, one of our problems, right there?) that she would always be there, and that we would always work through our rough spots. I was, of course, mistaken, and the divorce provided irrefutable evidence of same.

I was immersed in depression, and found myself weeping at traffic lights, for example. (Has anybody else experienced the angst, the melancholy, pouring out of a RED LIGHT?) (uh, no? oh, ok. Maybe it was simply me…..)

It was in the midst of this self pity party, that my step daughter (who I have everywhere else referred to as my daughter, as that is how I view her, notwithstanding the fact that she has none of my chromosomes) made for me, and gave me, a Christmas gift, that I treasure to this very day.

Brad Paisley has a song, on his Who Needs Pictures album, entitled “He Didn’t Have to Be”. The narrative is a step child (in Paisley’s, and his co writer’s case, a son), who gets included early on in his single mother and (to be) step dad’s activities, and how that forms a family. My daughter copied that song, and created a slideshow, set to that song, of photographs of my children, their mother and I, as our own family formed, and grew.

I wept. At the time my daughter created that slideshow, she was, herself, a single mother, working full time, as well as going to school full time. Her child, my oldest grand daughter, had spent more than a little time in pediatric ICU. My daughter had spent who knows how many hours collecting those photos, organizing them, arranging them, including that song, knowing that it would touch my heart, perhaps knowing, even, that I *needed* that memoir.

That was the single nicest, most apt, most engaging Christmas present, that I have ever received. She gave it to me for Christmas 2007, and I played it, again, today.

Over 13 years later, I wept, again. Thank you, honey. You have touched me, again. Still.

For so many reasons, I am grateful for my children.

Fun With Suits! · Having A Good Partner Is Very Important! · Pains in my Fifth Point of Contact

Kharma

This looks like it’s going to be a lengthy spiel. Hope y’all are ready!

Perhaps, in previous ramblings, I have touched on the assertion, I credit it to Ragnar Benson, relating that, if one were to consider the deaths and illnesses attributable to contaminated water supplies, it is not unrealistic to consider that it is entirely likely that plumbers, and assurance of safe water that is their stock-in-trade, have preserved more lives, and done more to alleviate human illness and suffering, than all the physicians ever born.

I remember this thought every time that I am credited with saving lives, or some such stuff. I am as good as I am, in large part due to the folks with whom I work.

And, then there is the lay-of-the-land aspects that can accompany cordial relations with your co-workers.

So, TINS©, TIWFDASL© in a walk in clinic in Da Nawth Country. It had been somewhat tumultuous , negotiating with my locums company, as they had contracted that I start on “Date A”, yet, 4 or 5 days prior to “Date A”, had informed me that things were not organized as needed, and some aspect of my credentialing was awry, and therefore I was not going to start on “Date A”. Therefore, I was not going to be getting paid, starting on “Date A”.

I acknowledged this tidbit. I asked when they anticipated my starting work, and starting receiving pay.

My recruiter could not tell me.

I noted that I had a contract stating that I would be working for The Locums Company, starting on “Date A”, and I anticipated starting to receive pay from The Locums Company, beginning on “Date A”.

The recruiter protested that, since I was not fully credentialed, I could not work, and therefore I would not be getting paid until all these wonderful things came together, and I was, indeed, working.

I set a limit. A hard limit. “Well, simply so that you understand how things will work, *SOMEBODY* is going to be paying me, starting on “Date A”. Your input into this conversation, is will it be The Locums Company, or will it be somebody else. And, just to make everything even plainer, whoever is paying me on “Date A”, will have my loyalty. That means that, if you folks are *NOT* the ones paying me, and you abruptly get your shit together, and invite me to start working at your client’s clinic, well, I am not about to pimp the folks who are providing me with a paycheck, simply because your organization is so grabasstic that you cannot get your credentialing in a group, by the date that *YOU* specified.”

He sputtered, “We have a contract! You have committed to work for us!”

I had read that contract. “Yep. You committed to pay me for my clinical services starting, oh, next Monday. Now come you, to inform me that you are not planning to pay me, starting next Monday. Now, I am not a lawyer, I do not play a lawyer on TV, and I did not stay in a Holiday Inn last night, but it certainly appears that you are proposing to breach one of the foundational elements of your contract, and thereby nullify the entire thing. If you are paying me, then my time is yours. If you have breached that contract by not paying me, then you can go piss up a rope.”

He continued to sputter. “I cannot simply approve paying you for not working.”

“Cool story. Howzabout you speak to somebody who can, indeed, authorize you to abide by the terms of your contract, and let me know how that turns out? As for me, I’m looking for work. If you get your shit together before I find other work, perhaps we can move forward in a mutually profitable way. If not, well, toodle-oo!”

The call terminated. I placed a call to Another Locums Company, with whom I had worked, and who had demonstrated that their stool was, indeed, in a pool. That recruiter and I had a cheery chat, and she promised to see what they had available, and call me back as soon as possible.

The next day, The Locums Company recruiter, who triggered this rant, called me back, breathlessly informing me that they *WOULD* pay me, as if I was working 40 hours, 9-5. In return, I would be on a 24 hour alert to report to the client clinic, upon The Locums Company’s notification that all had been ironed out. His tone was consistent with “…and don’t you try to weasel your way out of it!”

My response was, “Well, if you are paying me, then my time is yours, and I will be available to report for work as soon as is reasonable. 24 hours sounds reasonable.”

So, I hung around, puttering around, and after a couple of days, received The Call, shortly followed by a call from The Client Clinic. These worthies articulated concern. “Uh, you know we are up north, right?”

“Yep. I kind of had figured that out, in the course of the interactions with The Northern State Licensing Authorities. Those conversations led me to assume that this placement would be in The Northern State.”

“So”, they continued, “It’s January, and, well, we get snow here.”

“I had assumed that snow had something to do with your state’s reputation as a skiing destination.”

“So, have you ever driven in snow?”

This was surprising. If somebody had read, oh, the FIRST 6 INCHES of my FREAKING RESUME, it is exceedingly likely that this reader could figure out that I had spent considerable time in A Northern Fly Over State, wherein, every year, there was an abundance of snow on the ground for, oh, heck, 5 or 6 months of the year. My response did not, however, convey this surprise. “Uh, yeah, some.”

“Are you comfortable driving in snow?”

Another aside: it occurred to me that this particular line of inquiry might have been useful, say, during the freaking phone interview. Not the goddamned day before I was to drive my clinical ass up to start work. Again, my response was milder than my thoughts. “Yeah, I’m Ok with driving in snow.”

But, they were not going to let this go. “Are you sure? We really get a lot of snow, you know!”

I was over this line of conversation. “Look, I grew up in A Northern Fly Over State, we get assloads of snow every winter. If you have seen my resume, you will realize that, not only did I learn to drive in that state, I worked my way through Nursing school working for EMS in Da City in that very state. My children were born there, and every one of *them* learned to drive in the winter, in the snow. Since this is not Fairbanks Regional Medical Center, I am pretty sure that I have seen me some snow, and that I can handle it.”

I packed up my stuff, and set out for The Client Clinic.

I got oriented, and was introduced to the EMR. On my first day in clinic, I introduced myself to the registration staff, and the floor staff. Between patients, we swapped stories. This MA was prepping for Nursing school, that one was in undergrad for business. This other one was a survivalist, and prepping for The Zombie Apocalypse. (Kindred spirit, right there!)

A couple of weeks into the contract, things were tranquil. My MA asked me if I knew why my predecessor had quit, abruptly.

I allowed that I did not know all that much about it, simply that this soul had departed with inadequate notice.

Her eyes lit up. “Ahh! You need ‘The Rest Of The Story’!” She informed me that my predecessor had discovered that he, the clinician, had not been accredited with two of the most common third party payors in that area, and, since they were something like 70-80% of the payor mix, not receiving payment for care of those patients would present a cash flow problem of significant proportions.

It seemed that the clinic had elected to have this clinician’s visits billed as if another, credentialed, provider had in fact seen, interviewed, evaluated, diagnosed, and treated those patients. Since this was not exactly accurate, it potentially could get ugly. Very, very ugly.

When it appeared that this clinician would not see that situation remedied, right stat like, that clinician elected to remove himself from that particular pot of stew, immediately. Hence, the opportunity which featured me fighting disease and saving lives.

I spoke with my recruiter at once, and observed that, he either would provide satisfactory evidence that I was, in fact, credentialed with these payors, or I would unass that scene so fast that The Flash would ask, “What the fuck was that, that streaked right past me?” And, he did not have a lot of time to convince me that this was actually so.

An hour later, he not only effusively professed my actual credential-hood, he e mailed me copies of supporting documents, such that my black heart was grudgingly convinced that it was truff! (pronounced “True-ff”)

And that, boys and girls, is one reason that I treat my floor staff, and other co workers, nicely. That, and it is simply good manners.

Fun And Games Off Duty

More Mangled Machine-glish

Occasionally, a post will write itself. I recently received the following “comment”.

vui cung dafabet20 hours ago

Pretty section of content. I simply stumbled upon your weblog and in accession capital
to claim that I acquire in fact loved account your blog posts.
Anyway I will be subscribing to your feeds and even I
success you get entry to constantly quickly.”

Now, I am by no means the smartest guy on the block, nor am I the most literate. I do, generally, do OK for myself in those regards. I have to admit that I cannot tease any meaning out of the word salad that this “comment” is made of. I have, in fact, had more useful conversations with actively psychotic individuals, mid hallucination, than this series of words portends.

Thought experiment: what would the vocabulary equivalent of a random number generator look like? I suspect very much like this.

And, we continually get told that machines will take our jobs.

I doubt it, unless they teach AI to snark, and drink.