I spent 9+ years in one of the three ER's in my city. When I started we rotated "ER of the day" so that no one hospital bore the brunt of non-paying patients but that got to be a joke. No one liked one of the hospitals in the rotation because they collected five dollars every time the patient came in so we would get slammed 2 nights in a row. Staffing was horrible - try being night charge when you have less than 1 year experience, one nurse in triage until 3 AM, one nurse on the track, a unit clerk, a PA and a Doc. Of the 5 nurses that started together, I was the only one left after 3 months. I worked on a survey we did in house checking turn over time and our average was 2 hrs and 37 minutes - management decided that was too long. The survey was done with all charts for 7 days - that included true emergency's, chest pains and clinic patients. We also had to deal with interns (we called them baby docs). My first Christmas there we got a bonus from the hospital, a fifty dollar gift card
from the physician's group and a 20 pound turkey but by the time I left we were being given a gift card to Walmart in the amount of ten dollars and then were expected to "donate" it back. We had 8 chest pain rooms, 4 trauma rooms, minor surgery/cast room (2 beds) and 12 fast tract beds for a total of 26 beds but if you added the hall beds we had 34 beds. On nights we averaged 6 RN's, 1 unit clerk, 1 PCT and the Doc but many nights we actually had 4 nurses, 2 PCT's and a unit clerk. That was 2005 so I guess nothing has really changed.
Sadly we would "stack 'em, pack 'em and rack 'em until we could muddle through - it often felt like we were running cattle, BUT I would have never left had it not been for latex. I loved my job, we had not had a raise in 3 years even though management managed to provide all the upper suits with brand new Lincoln Navigators yearly, I still miss the job just not the way we were having to do it. I made those special patient's I was privileged to care for into moments of clarity - This is why I do this, this is why I stay
- it was not the money. It was the Zebadee's of the world that kept me there. Damn latex.