An ER Minute

The time is eight thirty.
The ventilation whirs softly above me as I write a chart.
The main screen blinks and blips as the heart monitor syncs;
stretcher #3: bradycardia.

Distressed eyes gaze at me from across the hall.
Curtains half pulled, the patient leans in his stretcher
anxious, looking for any relief we can provide him.
His one hand guards his other tender arm.

A wailing cry.
A child sits in his mother’s lap.
His face beet red as he begs to go home.
No comforting words stop him.

Silhouettes work behind the curtains of #5.
The doctor is busy speaking with the patient,
as the nurses prepare to move her for surgery.
A medical emergency.

A new patient is admitted.
The nurse directs the limping man to a bed.
He is flustered. He has waited thirty minutes, he explains.
The waiting list is long, and growing. 

The attending returns, crisis averted.
He slumps in his chair and looks at the clipboards, waiting.
I give him my report as he hands me the chart for stretcher #2.
The time is eight thirty-one. 

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