I was waiting my turn to see the emergency room doctor when a young mother came through the doors with her child, maybe three or four years old. The little girl was crying and the woman who, I took to be the child’s mother, was holding a bloody handkerchief over the little girl’s mouth. She looked around frantically for someone to help and rushed to the desk and said, “My daughter’s been hurt and I need to see…” She was cut off in mid-sentence, “You need to take a seat and wait for one of the clerks to sign you in.”
“But my little girl was hit in the mouth by a…” She was interrupted again. “Please take a seat ma’am, someone will be with you shortly.”
Just then, the ER doctor walked in and said to the woman at the desk, “Shame on you… this little girl needs help right now!” He motioned to the woman and the little girl and led them to an examining room.
Briefly, (and guiltily) I wondered when my turn to see the doctor might come, but — if I live to be a hundred years old, I wonder if I will ever see another time when a person’s pain so clearly wins out over the system’s protocol. “Shame on you!” I love it! The physician was looking at a child’s pain. The clerk was looking at the hospital’s procedure.
John Jewell, Shame on You!