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This year I received so many outstanding entries in the Write a DearReader Contest, it seemed a shame to only publish the winning pieces. So I've been featuring Honorable Mentions in my column.
Today I'm featuring an Honorable Mention entry from Annmarie Ragukonis. She's an emergency room registration assistant at Flagler Hospital in St. Augustine, Florida. Annmarie greets patients, gathers their demographic information, verifies insurance, and collects out-of-pocket expenses. During Hurricane Matthew, she spent 48 consecutive hours at the hospital as part of the team that served their area during the tropical storm.
I asked Annmarie if she could tell me something about herself that might surprise readers and she did--surprise me. "When my daughter played basketball in high school, I sang the National Anthem before her game on senior night. Two months later, and just as touching, I sang Amazing Grace at her grandmother's funeral."
Thanks for sharing "The Bright Side of the ER" with us Annmarie...
"The Bright Side of the ER"
In the emergency room of a small town hospital, I register persons who find themselves needing immediate clinical care. I'm not sure what images this conjures up, but daily life in my ER is not quite like the drama portrayed on NBC with continuous impelling crises. Still, I wouldn't describe a routine day as mundane either.
Perhaps it's because I find it easy to recognize and appreciate life's small blessings. Moreover, I genuinely enjoy people. So if one of the nurses shares one of her homemade caramels or a patient's wife compliments my blue reading glasses, I make a mental note to add it to my "Diario de Gratitud," the title I gave to my gratitude journal.
Now and then, I like to have fun with patients, provided it's appropriate, of course. We take photos of patients in order to decrease charting errors and to support privacy. Depending on the individual, I'll sometimes remark about the picture, complimenting a smile or teasing that it's good enough for a Facebook profile. Once, in response to "Oh! You take pictures?," I congratulated a curious patient by announcing in pretense that she had won the 1,000th patient contest. Her delight surprised me, especially since she kept her merry attitude despite her abdominal pain.
On occasion, I make myself laugh. I was thrilled when I received a badge reel from Human Resources to attach to my name tag lanyard. The retractable cord made it easier for me to swipe my ID when entering restricted areas. But silly me could not remember what it was called. Each time I tried showing it off, I ended up calling it a "wheely-stretchy thing" or an "elastic badge thingy." Luckily, most of my coworkers laughed along with me as I celebrated my newfound gadget.
Once I made a verbal blunder that turned out to be a godsend. I had to place an armband on a small boy whose anxious mother brought him to the ER because he hurt his wrist. In this particular incident, she was more distraught than her child. Logically, I knew not to attach the plastic band to his injured wrist but as I showed him the band and explained to him that it had his name printed on it, I illogically stated, "Let me put this on one of your other arms." I quickly corrected myself adding with a wink and a smile that I thought maybe he was an octopus. The boy laughed, the nurse laughed, I laughed, and then mom laughed! The doctor treated the broken bone and humor cured his frantic mother.
Typically, the majority of cases brought to the emergency room are manageable. Some are without a doubt more interesting, like snake bites and foreign objects in peculiar places. As expected, there are intermittent stroke alerts and cardiac arrests, as well as serious auto accidents, all of which are heart rendering. Yet despite the sadness and pain that I witness, the emergency room is oftentimes where I find proof of goodness.
One such memory involves a conversation I witnessed between a 64-year-old white man in a wheelchair and a nervous, frightened 12-year-old Afro American boy. The elder gentleman must have overheard that the young athlete was awaiting treatment for a football collision because he managed to engage the youth in lively dialogue about the sport that reached beyond age and color.
So while I can't define my work in the emergency room as solely routine nor as remarkable, there's rarely a dull moment as long as there is humor and serendipity. And when I think of the delicious homemade turtle brownies one of our nurses brings every Sunday or recall the female patient who wore the same flag earrings on the Fourth of July that I was wearing, I can't help but think of the bright side of working in the ER!
Honorable Mention, 2016 Write a DearReader Contest
Thanks for reading with me. It's so good to read with friends.
* This month's Penguin Classics book is THE CHARTERHOUSE OF PARMA, by Stendhal. Start reading now and be sure to enter the drawing for your chance to win a Penguin tote bag: http://www.supportlibrary.com/bc/v.cfm?L=drclassqqxqR1AFEAEE9442&c=CLASSICS
AUTHORBUZZ: THE GAIL FORCE (Thriller) by Robert Lane
Jake Travis, while trying to expose a corrupt Miami art gallery, goes undercover for the FBI. The gallery's owner, Phillip Agatha, is more enchanted with murder than he is with art. Kirkus Reviews says, "The pace is breakneck, the plot crackles with energy and suspense, the writing is crisp and clever. A consistently entertaining crime thriller."
Go to: http://authorbuzz.com/dearreader click on THE GAIL FORCE to read more and to email author Robert Lane, you'll get a reply.