This is only my second week writing for the Campus Times, and I already have to face the typical columnist challenge – to produce a sensible article on time, regardless of school’s occasionally hard reality. After much debate and even some mild hallucinations, I opted to select the most obvious topic for my column – the health care available for Eastman students.
Many of us have school insurance. Unfortunately, many do not know that, if you happen to get sick before 9 a.m., after 5 p.m. or on the weekends – please, don’t! – and manage to find the correct University Health Services phone number, you will be sent to Strong Hospital’s Emergency Department.
After finally getting to speak with someone from UHS, I was urged to drive down to the hospital. How I was supposed to drive when I had a piercing headache that was causing double vision – not to mention that I don’t have a car – was a mystery to me. Luckily, the staff at UHS had notified security before 5 p.m. and a friendly officer drove me to Strong Hospital.
It was barely past 5 p.m. when I arrived at the emergency department, where I saw a nurse immediately. She took all my information and complaints. Then I was escorted to a freezing cold room where there were no blankets, no pillows and no drinking water. Over an hour later, a physician’s assistant entered and asked me the same questions as had the first nurse.
“Do you have a temperature?”
“Your colleague already took it.”
“Oh, yeah, that’s right! Does the rash itch?”
“I answered that already.”
“Oh, yeah, I see that now.”
I mentioned that I was cold. The PA cheerfully affirmed that the room was a little chilly. She brought me a pillow – how nice! – and then left.
At 7:20 p.m., a male nurse came and took blood samples, promising to be “right back” with blankets. I never saw him again.
Around 8 p.m., a doctor came in and I told her the same things I had told everyone else. She seemed perplexed as to what I could have, and left.
The PA came next and said, “We don’t know what you have. We are checking on STDs now. Do you use tampons?”
I had to repeat yet again that I am a virgin and there was no way whatsoever I could have an STD, nor do I use tampons.
She tried to convince me that I take over-the-counter medicine – or, in her words, “some of those herbals and stuff” – but alas, I don’t. I confirmed with the doctor that I was absolutely not dehydrated and that I really needed to use the restroom. The nice lady who wheelchaired me to the toilet finally brought me blankets. It was 8:15 p.m.
After 45 more minutes, the doctor, the PA and the lady with the chair brought in a dermatologist and a UR graduate student to examine my blisters. In less than 15 seconds, the dermatologist diagnosed me with chicken pox. They attached a water pump to my hand. Yet another girl took my blood pressure.
By 10 p.m., I had already solved all of my school issues by talking to friends and teachers over the phone. I had also asked some good friends if I could stay over at their house.
Every passing minute at that hospital was like a horror movie. Oh, did I mention that the pump didn’t work? Surprise, surprise.
My friends, the Chambers, called back saying they would come over to check on me.
I thought God was coming to rescue me.
Mr. Chambers found the doctor in the corridor and had her come to my room and fix the pump. He had to find her again later on when the pump needed to be replaced.
After the doctor came in, I was asked, “Are you still feeling dehydrated?”
“I was never dehydrated,” I replied.
“Really? I thought you were. Well, tell me if you can walk now – if not we will get you another pump.”
I started walking, eager to show how great I was feeling.
I never saw my urine or blood test results. The Chambers family and I simply walked out of the hospital, no questions asked.
Since then, I have been living at their house, where I have more blankets and water than I need. I get health consultations over the phone from my doctor in Bulgaria, and am already feeling better.
I hope you will take note of my pitiful example and be better prepared in case of need. If you have to go to Strong, don’t rely on caring staff to be there for you. Dress warmly and bring a blanket. Grab a big bottle of water and some crackers. A cell phone may bring friends to the rescue, so don’t leave it at home.
However, the best thing for you to do if you are getting sick is to go to UHS during working hours and speak to a caring person named Mary.
Fol can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.