Well since I do live in Dallas I feel obligated to weigh in on the subject. What is my opinion? “It’s scary as hell, I don’t like it, and I think we should be a bit panicked.”
One of the reasons I think we need to be concerned is that I had the misfortune to visit, about six months ago, the very same emergency room that the Ebola patient who died, Michael Duncan, went to and was initially turned away. My perception of that emergency room was that it was an inner city house of horrors. It was a disaster waiting to happen. And disaster has in fact happened.
What I am going to do is chronical step by step my experience there. I want to preface this by saying that I am a white female with more than adequate insurance so I cannot claim that I was discriminated against in any way. I received “standard” medical care for that hospital.
Here is what happened. I had severe abdominal pain, fever, vomiting and diarrhea. My husband took me in to the reception desk and left to park the car. I gave the nurse my ID and insurance card so she began typing away. She asked no questions about my condition. While I was waiting I became so weak that I slid to the floor. After about 5 minutes later the nurse leaned over the desk, saw me, and asked me if I needed a wheel chair. I said yes, but I did not receive one and remained on the floor.
By the time my husband returned I had been assisted into an intake cubical where I was asked my complaint, and vitals were taken. I then returned to the waiting room and remained there for about hour and half. The waiting was full of people in all states of distress, holding dish pans and buckets they obviously brought from home to vomit in. Eventually a nurse approached me with a wheel chair and a urine specimen cup. She then wheeled me into a rest room off the common waiting room and left me there.
Despite the fact that I was unable to stand on my own, I was expected to somehow pee in this cup and return to the nurse’s station. The restroom was filthy, covered with wadded up paper, urine, feces and vomit. There was no soap in the dispenser and no towels to dry my hands. Somehow I managed to collect the urine. However the wheel chair was an odd type that had no wheel grips on the side so there was no way for me to move it on my own, so now I am trapped in the bathroom from hell. I had to CALL MY HUSBAND on my phone to come find me and release me from the bathroom. He did and I returned to the waiting room and remained there for another 2 hours.
Another nurse approached me and I managed to totter over to a nurse set up at what looked like a card table in the filthy waiting room to have my blood taken. That accomplished I went back to lay down partially on a chair with my legs on the magazine table and drifted in and out of consciousness for another hour or so. Eventually I was taken back to a treatment room. They wheeled me past several completely empty bays of rooms. Whole segments of the emergency room center stood empty.
I spoke to a doctor for about 10 seconds and then received IV fluids and antibiotics. While in this I was shivering from fever and it was also cold in the room. I asked for a blanket and was told that there were no blankets available???? Couldn’t they have taken one off of the at least 25 empty beds I saw on the way to the treatment room.
After being there for about 6 hours total, I was sent home with no diagnosis and the advice to drink fluids, rest and contact my primary care physician on Monday. Monday was 2 days away.
So this is my story of the state of emergency medical care at the hospital Michael Duncan was turned away from and eventually died in. Were mistakes made? Hell yes. Are some serious enquiries and changes in procedures and care of patients needed? Again…hell yes.