Too Much Time Waiting

People waste hours of their life just by waiting. Humans in dire need of medical attention wait while their lives are slowly fading. The long wait times in the ER, especially at Baptist Hospital, are ridiculous, and the reason for this is the lack of trained medical professionals available to serve the high need. The bathrooms at the ER should also be safer for those who are vulnerable to injury from a fall.

My grandmother, for instance, was diagnosed with Stage 4 brain cancer, and she spent her last months waiting at the hospital to see medical professionals. The day before she passed, she went with my mom to the ER in extreme pain because she was passing a kidney stone. By this point, my grandma barely remembered where she was and needed an assistant at all times. While waiting for a room, which they were told could take up to five hours, my grandmother needed to use the restroom. My grandmother’s legs weakened, causing her to collapse on the floor of the bathroom. Since there was no emergency pull cord, my mom and grandma had to wait for the next person who wanted to use the bathroom. It was about ten minutes before someone arrived, even though it felt like an eternity. My mom screamed at her, “Get help now!” As the hospital staff were helping my grandma stand, she threw a blood clot, but they didn’t realize it until later. My mom took my grandma to a different bathroom, and realized that she was unresponsive. My mom called for help and she was quickly seen by a doctor. My grandma had a CT scan of her chest since she was unable to maintain her blood pressure or oxygen. At 1:30 a.m. Saturday morning, my mom and grandma were moved to a room where my mom was given bad news. They found out that my grandma had a massive blood clot in her lungs. She deteriorated quickly and had to be placed on a ventilator. After talking with the doctor, my mom knew that my grandma wouldn’t be walking out of the hospital with her.

After my grandma passed, my mom wrote a letter to my grandma’s cancer doctor, thanking him for everything he did for her in treating her cancer. I would like for Baptist Hospital to have more trained medical professionals so that people don’t have to spend hours waiting to be diagnosed or helped. Every minute of life is important, and it’s best to not spend time waiting for life-saving care. We need more people to become nurses and doctors for this reason, and I understand that it is not meant for everyone. The more doctors there are, the more people can be treated at the same time. I encourage people to become nurses and doctors so that patients in need can spend less time waiting and more time being treated.

Bathroom modifications would be an easier change to implement at Baptist Hospital, especially in the main bathroom for the emergency department. There is only one patient bathroom for the entire ER waiting area that has a safety cord. The safety cord is designed to alert hospital staff if someone needs help, which would have benefited my grandmother and mother if there had been one. The patient bathroom was full at the time, which is why my mom and grandma had to use the main bathroom, which was without a pull cord. All bathrooms at the ER, including the main bathroom, should have a pull cord in case of an emergency, since, after all, it is a hospital.

If Baptist Hospital was to have shorter wait times and safer bathrooms, time spent at the hospital would be better. The hospital, in general, is not seen as a happy place, but by changing certain things, it can be less dreadful. People who read this can prevent longer lines by going to an urgent care center for a cold, sprain, or other non-emergency health issue instead of the ER, so people with life-threatening conditions can get the help they need. I hope that my grandmother’s story inspires Baptist Hospital to change so that others won’t have the same experience that my mom and grandma had.

Read more: Student Voices Project 2020

Sarah Sheets

Sarah Sheets (she/her), Grade 10, New Garden Friends School in Greensboro, N.C. (In an earlier version of this post, we incorrectly identified the location of New Garden Friends School. It is in Greensboro, not Durham.)

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