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Day 144: Sad Portrait of a Failing Hospital

Tonight I present an email from a nurse who explains why she will no longer report for duty at a big medical center in Brooklyn. She asks not to be identified. I’m withholding the hospital’s name, too. (I slip sometimes, but I try not to promote or make examples of institutions, companies, individuals, or products.)

Thanks for trying to tell the truth but you don’t know the half of it.

WILLIAM BLAKE: NURSE'S SONG“_____ has people piled in corridors. The cafeteria is jammed with patients. They all say they just came down with flu no matter how long they had it because the [city’s] guidelines say Tamiflu and Relenza only go to people who went symptomatic less than 48 hours ago. We ran out of ventilators the first day and what we have are breaking from overuse and use by people who were never trained to operate them. There’s hardly any oxygen left to operate them with anyway. We use throwaway masks over and over, marked with our initials. Nursing assistants are running ICU beds on their own.

“Management is totally mixed up. They suspended regulations and qualifications so they don’t know if the people they’re talking to know how to do anything right. Doctors are losing it. Nurses are dying. My best friend turned purple yesterday. She’s stuffed in a freezer. She was 29. I heard there’s no more room down there. Where would they put me?

“My kids need me more than I need the money. School is closed. How is my 9 year old suppose to watch the others? I didn’t sign up for this mess. My husband’s a cop risking his life in a million ways wearing a paper mask they gave him. They don’t want either of us to wear the ones we got on your site because they violate standards by being better, for God’s sake. Anytime my husband could bring bird flu back with him. I’m going to stay home from now on to back him up and give our little ones a fighting chance.

“That means at least the end of my career if they don’t arrest me for desertion or something. Under the emergency, we have to stay here til they say we can go. They do anything they want with regulations, the unions, professional practice, “ethics,” whatever. Lucky they have no place to sleep us so I get to see my kids. What if I make them sick?

“I didn’t accomplish much in 15 hours today anyway. Lied to patients surrounded by people leaking blood and gasping to death. Told them help was coming when it was going to be a dental student who hasn’t had any sleep.

“They should have planned better. It’s all a wreck, everybody for himself. I’m for my family. Keep warning everyone to stay home. Did I mention the MRSA?

I have nothing to add to what she wrote. Readers who live in areas not yet affected should yell at their authorities to prepare FASTER! Any talk of heading off the pandemic is nuts. Sick.

She referred to MRSA, which can come with influenza. As with bacterial pneumonia, staph infections are taking advantage of flu-weakened bodies—particularly in children—to infect people. Hospitals are hotbeds of MRSA transmission….

Earlier I saw the bald guy stomping around his living room, waving his mantis arms like semaphores. I couldn’t see what his friend was doing. But he saw me and slammed the curtains so hard I could just about hear the fabric flap. He’s an insect version of the guy in Rear Window.

Stop telling me to go out! What’s the point?

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