Sunday, May 13, 2012

Weekend reruns

Let's take the Way-Back machine to the early-90's.

Dr. Grumpy is the medicine intern, on-call for Thanksgiving, at a large VA hospital (a veterans hospital for my non-U.S. readers, with consequently a primarily cantankerous elderly male population).

A peculiar thing about VA hospitals (at least back then, I haven't worked at one for 18 years) is that patients could sign out at the nurse's desk, and come back later (allegedly they were in the hospital because they were sick, but you need to work at one to understand this point). So the sheet was always full of notations that patients had signed out to go to McDonald's, or to buy cigarettes, or to smoke, or to visit friends at the homeless shelter, or to hold up a liquor store, or whatever.

Some bright businessman had opened a stripper club across the street from the hospital, I think it was called The Jaguar Room. So on Thanksgiving the VA ward I was covering was empty, as most of the patients had signed out to walk, wheel, or crawl over to The Jaguar Room for some female comfort and booze.

I was asleep in the intern's room when the calls began coming in. All of them from the bartender at The Jaguar Room. Questions about was it safe for my patients to be smoking through their tracheostomy tubes? Were the cardiac telemetry packs still transmitting from across the street? Was there a place at the VA where the patients could get more $1 bills, because they'd used them all up on the strippers?

And my favorite:

Bartender: "Can I give Mr. Veteran another beer?"

Intern Grumpy: "Um, what's the problem?"

Bartender: "He has one of those foley bags things, with the tube going up his dick. The bag is, like, REALLY full, and I'm afraid if I give him another beer it'll pop and send piss everywhere."

Intern Grumpy: "Send him back to the hospital."

Bartender: "Well, that's bad for business."

Intern Grumpy: "So is showering your clientele with piss."

Mr. Veteran was wheeled back over to the VA immediately, by a topless stripper no less, who waited while his bag was emptied and then pushed him back to the bar.


Officer Cynical said...

Semper fi, mofo!

bobbie said...


Cate said...

that's hysterical but terrifying. I'm wondering if I've made a mistake avoiding the VA entirely this year... maybe I should do psych there next block.

Brian said...

I'm quite positive that I currently live in the same city you describe and have done several clinicals this year at the same VA! The club actually has the name of a different cat nowadays but the scenario is still quite similar. On the Med-Surg floor, the patients will disappear for a little while and come back after having gotten a drink or two and some lipstick on thier necks... no shit. It's especially problematic with the guy who gets admitted on Friday for "detox" but disappears a couple times over the weekend and never really seems to need that ativan we've got ready for his impending DT's. Then on monday, he signs himself out AMA. Fun times!

The Angry Medic said...

Ah yes, the Land of the Free*.

Now where's that damn VA application form...

*for some reason when I typed that I imagined free untethered breasts. Is that weird? That ain't weird, right? I'm only saying what you're thinking.

Loren Pechtel said...

Putting it another way: It wouldn't be good for business to have the customers pissed.

Gracie's Mom said...

Wheeled the old bugger over to get his bag emptied and then wheeled him back to the club? Now that's good customer service. Further proof that you don't really buy beer, you rent it.

Cal said...

Priceless, priceless!

RehabRN said...


Ah, the days of two Buds a day for the patients (at least at our beautiful governmint facility).

No, we don't have any such "entertainment" near our Hotel. Only a check cashing joint that gets held up every so often. The sounds of the symphony on one day, the 'hood and gunfire on another.

Thank goodness I'm off-site in a clinic/rehab. The worst we get is a skunk in the building or a stray deer on the parking lot.

Although, we have had patients on pass, just so happen into a strip club on their way back and come back "slightly inebriated" doing donuts in their wheelchairs in the parking lot.

Crazy a&%ed Marines.

History Doc said...

You should've sent a bill.

Anonymous said...

I L O V E the Veteran patients I am privileged to see.

Folks, this is missionary work!

What a delight. Where else can you have such patient centered care, and get great stories?

(WWII guys, and gals, are literally a dying breed, but oh, the stories!)

so, youngster, rethink that VA rotation !!!

eulogos said...

I had a patient at small city Catholic hospital whose doctor gave him permission to go out to smoke. He came back in and soon became unresponsive. RN from the big city said, "Looks to me like he's strung out." A tox screen confirmed her hunch. He had gone out and used the IV I started to shoot up! Needless to say his smoking pass was cancelled.

This VA hospital sounds more like a nursing home.
Susan Peterson

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