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Medical life

Nurses, med students, paramedics, and interns

Nurses pass through your lives largely unseen. But we see you. We are there when you’re born and we’re there when you die.
 - Image by Peter Hannan
Nurses pass through your lives largely unseen. But we see you. We are there when you’re born and we’re there when you die.

What the Ghost in White Shoes Knows

Burnt-out nurses seek revenge. Burnt-out nurses move slowly and resentfully through the hospital halls when a patient’s call light flickers on. Perhaps the patient’s IV bag has run empty. The patient waits for many minutes for the nurse to reappear with a new bag of solution. Only by the time the nurse shows up, something has happened to the IV access site. The solution won’t drip in anymore. “Whoops!” says the nurse. “Guess that one is dead.”

By Patrizia DiLucchio, Sept. 8, 1994 | Read full article

Some people have charged that department founder Dr. Banville gave speed to the professional football players to improve, or at least enliven, their 2-and-12 performance.

Shrunken Heads

“On your own, you probably won’t do any better. What you need is analysis.” By the end of the first year, seven of the 15 residents were in analysis, including the three who were later named chief residents for the next year. Evidently, those who are not for analysis are clearly against it. Harvey Melnick, who threw in his lot with the drug school, is miffed. “The residents undergoing analysis are so smug.”

By Jim Steck, June 2, 1977 | Read full article

"There are some places in Southeast, like around the fire station at Thirty-sixth and Ocean View, that are really scary. I think that place is the most dangerous, most violent block in the city of San Diego or the county."

True Life and Grim Death

The apartment complex on Del Monte Avenue in Ocean Beach was one of those typically nondescript buildings slapped up to house students and lower-income families. Guzman and his partner, Tom Vrooman, roll quietly down the street looking for it. Finding it, they hurry through the open security gate, lugging a tackle box full of needles and drugs, an oxygen bottle, and their electrocardiograph machine. The inside of the complex is no more interesting.

By Scott LaFee, June 16, 1983 | Read full article

I start taking vital signs on all my patients, which sounds simple enough, except when you’re dealing with a patient like Mrs. Nidy, who is uncooperative, or Mr. Ustoy, who can’t hold a thermometer in his mouth.

Nurse’s Log

Eugene Johnson — by far the sickest person on this shift. We check his I.V., which has again infiltrated. Since even 11:00, his condition has deteriorated. He is barely breathing, and his blood pressure has dropped to 60/30. The thrashing of his arms and legs has stopped. A scream is frozen on his mouth, but there is no sound. We wonder why the doctor hasn’t transferred him to ICU; and we can’t transfer him without a written order.

By Susanne Kimball, April 2, 1987 | Read full article

Linda Karmon opens the retractor; the thing becomes an enormous gaping hole like the jaws of a white shark.

Scrub Leagues

Yesterday they took out a kidney. I hadn’t touched a kidney in years, you get taken aback when they hand you a kidney. Same thing with an amputation. A leg has a very different feeling when it’s not connected to you, when they just hand it over to you. It’s covered, first of all. It’s handed to me, then I hand it to the nurse, or put it in another bag, and it’s tagged.

By Patrick Daugherty, Sept. 2, 1993 | Read full article

Michael Damm and Roger Fisher. He looks at the screen. “Thirty-seven eighty-four Euclid. Number 8. Got that?” Roger’s searching through a Thomas Brothers’. We’re on Adams, near Felton. “Work up to Fifth, then turn left at Landis. It’s between Landis and Wightman.”

If You Don't Laugh You'll Go Mad

“I guess the most satisfying call I ever had was back four years ago,” he says, stretching his legs out over two chairs. “Southeast San Diego. Me and my partner were two brand-new paramedics. Idealistic. Got a call to this 23-year-old girl. She had severe abdominal pains. She had a ruptured ectopic pregnancy — in the tubes. It actually ruptured while we were there. She went straight into ventricular fibrillation. That means the heart was not beating.”

By Bill Manson, June 2, 1994 | Read full article

"Medi-Cal is the highest amount of personnel costs to bill, and it’s one of the lowest paying and a high denial rate for who the heck knows why."

This is Medi-Cal Paperwork for a Single Patient

“With Medi-Cal it’s really very simple,” he says. “Medi-Cal just really doesn’t pay enough money — to physicians generally, but I think it’s even worse in psychiatry — so that one would be able to pay their bills. They’re asking people who have had at least eight years of schooling and training after college to work for $39 an hour. That’s what they’re paying now, $39 per patient, which is pretty much an hour.”

By Ernie Grimm, March 7, 1996 | Read full article

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Nurses pass through your lives largely unseen. But we see you. We are there when you’re born and we’re there when you die.
 - Image by Peter Hannan
Nurses pass through your lives largely unseen. But we see you. We are there when you’re born and we’re there when you die.

What the Ghost in White Shoes Knows

Burnt-out nurses seek revenge. Burnt-out nurses move slowly and resentfully through the hospital halls when a patient’s call light flickers on. Perhaps the patient’s IV bag has run empty. The patient waits for many minutes for the nurse to reappear with a new bag of solution. Only by the time the nurse shows up, something has happened to the IV access site. The solution won’t drip in anymore. “Whoops!” says the nurse. “Guess that one is dead.”

By Patrizia DiLucchio, Sept. 8, 1994 | Read full article

Some people have charged that department founder Dr. Banville gave speed to the professional football players to improve, or at least enliven, their 2-and-12 performance.

Shrunken Heads

“On your own, you probably won’t do any better. What you need is analysis.” By the end of the first year, seven of the 15 residents were in analysis, including the three who were later named chief residents for the next year. Evidently, those who are not for analysis are clearly against it. Harvey Melnick, who threw in his lot with the drug school, is miffed. “The residents undergoing analysis are so smug.”

By Jim Steck, June 2, 1977 | Read full article

"There are some places in Southeast, like around the fire station at Thirty-sixth and Ocean View, that are really scary. I think that place is the most dangerous, most violent block in the city of San Diego or the county."

True Life and Grim Death

The apartment complex on Del Monte Avenue in Ocean Beach was one of those typically nondescript buildings slapped up to house students and lower-income families. Guzman and his partner, Tom Vrooman, roll quietly down the street looking for it. Finding it, they hurry through the open security gate, lugging a tackle box full of needles and drugs, an oxygen bottle, and their electrocardiograph machine. The inside of the complex is no more interesting.

By Scott LaFee, June 16, 1983 | Read full article

I start taking vital signs on all my patients, which sounds simple enough, except when you’re dealing with a patient like Mrs. Nidy, who is uncooperative, or Mr. Ustoy, who can’t hold a thermometer in his mouth.

Nurse’s Log

Eugene Johnson — by far the sickest person on this shift. We check his I.V., which has again infiltrated. Since even 11:00, his condition has deteriorated. He is barely breathing, and his blood pressure has dropped to 60/30. The thrashing of his arms and legs has stopped. A scream is frozen on his mouth, but there is no sound. We wonder why the doctor hasn’t transferred him to ICU; and we can’t transfer him without a written order.

By Susanne Kimball, April 2, 1987 | Read full article

Linda Karmon opens the retractor; the thing becomes an enormous gaping hole like the jaws of a white shark.

Scrub Leagues

Yesterday they took out a kidney. I hadn’t touched a kidney in years, you get taken aback when they hand you a kidney. Same thing with an amputation. A leg has a very different feeling when it’s not connected to you, when they just hand it over to you. It’s covered, first of all. It’s handed to me, then I hand it to the nurse, or put it in another bag, and it’s tagged.

By Patrick Daugherty, Sept. 2, 1993 | Read full article

Michael Damm and Roger Fisher. He looks at the screen. “Thirty-seven eighty-four Euclid. Number 8. Got that?” Roger’s searching through a Thomas Brothers’. We’re on Adams, near Felton. “Work up to Fifth, then turn left at Landis. It’s between Landis and Wightman.”

If You Don't Laugh You'll Go Mad

“I guess the most satisfying call I ever had was back four years ago,” he says, stretching his legs out over two chairs. “Southeast San Diego. Me and my partner were two brand-new paramedics. Idealistic. Got a call to this 23-year-old girl. She had severe abdominal pains. She had a ruptured ectopic pregnancy — in the tubes. It actually ruptured while we were there. She went straight into ventricular fibrillation. That means the heart was not beating.”

By Bill Manson, June 2, 1994 | Read full article

"Medi-Cal is the highest amount of personnel costs to bill, and it’s one of the lowest paying and a high denial rate for who the heck knows why."

This is Medi-Cal Paperwork for a Single Patient

“With Medi-Cal it’s really very simple,” he says. “Medi-Cal just really doesn’t pay enough money — to physicians generally, but I think it’s even worse in psychiatry — so that one would be able to pay their bills. They’re asking people who have had at least eight years of schooling and training after college to work for $39 an hour. That’s what they’re paying now, $39 per patient, which is pretty much an hour.”

By Ernie Grimm, March 7, 1996 | Read full article

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