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Stepping Stones: My first Emergency visit


When a person goes to an emergency department, they are often in a vulnerable state.

Especially someone who's stubborn, independent and tough as nails. In case you haven't picked up on it, I'm talking about me.

I have been to the hospital in St. Anthony a few times before. I've always considered it confusing because of lack of signage and directions on where to go or what to do.

But ask and most people are happy to help. Locally the hospital has a good reputation for making people feel at ease and for its quality of care.

I had my first emergency department experience last week, and it's the first time that I was not impressed.

Especially someone who's stubborn, independent and tough as nails. In case you haven't picked up on it, I'm talking about me.

I have been to the hospital in St. Anthony a few times before. I've always considered it confusing because of lack of signage and directions on where to go or what to do.

But ask and most people are happy to help. Locally the hospital has a good reputation for making people feel at ease and for its quality of care.

I had my first emergency department experience last week, and it's the first time that I was not impressed.

Melissa Jenkins

Don't get me wrong, half of my experience was ideal, but the term emergency doesn't mean emergent all the time.

I am not a fan of the location of emerge. It's on the far end of the building, away from the parking lot. Not easy for those with mobility issues.

I had just injured myself playing volleyball. Rolled my ankle, and heard a snap. Needless to say, it was a difficult walk from my vehicle, uphill to the building and across to emergency. I was still walking on two feet at this time, although I never should have been.

There's no signage inside the emergency department for after hours. I knew where to go because a wonderful woman sitting inside was helpful and told me to go to examination room 4.

That night, I met a fantastic nurse, an excellent paramedic and a great doctor. Unfortunately, they were limited on what they could do. They splinted my foot and gave me crutches, with the guidance to not put any weight on it and come back in the morning. There was no X-ray technician working.

Wait. No X-ray tech? Well, it wasn't emergent enough to bring one in. So that is reasonable. What's not? The following day.

Driving with a messed up ankle is hard, especially when it's been splinted.

So when I arrived to a full parking lot, and had to drive around for 15 minutes waiting for a spot, it was uncomfortable.

I got a spot at the very back of the pothole covered parking lot, climbed out of my Jeep and started that long uphill trek to emergency on my crutches. A walk that would normally take a minute or two was at least five times as long.

When I arrived at emergency, I was surprised to see there are no automatic doors. So independent, stubborn me opened the two big main doors by myself, on one foot, balancing crutches and a purse.

Once inside, they wouldn't register me until after my X-rays.

So next was the jaunt to the X-ray department. My hands were hurting from the crutches at this point. But I had to go.

Coming back, I checked back at examination room 4 to see what I had to do and where I had to go. I got the brush off and just told to go register again.

Not once that whole day was I offered assistance, even when I visibly struggled. I was told where X-ray was because there are green arrows on the floor. Other than that, I was left to my own devices, in an emergency department.

I am single and I live alone. I don't have a support system to drive me to the hospital, help me navigate my way around or offer me assistance. Those that do are lucky.

Between that and the lack of automatic doors, I am honestly discouraged to go to the emergency department unless I accidentally cut my arm off.

And even then, who's going to help open the door for me?

Melissa Jenkins is the editor of the Northern Pen. She can be reached at Melissa.jenkins@tc.tc

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