This is my story of the first day at Parkview Community Hospital Medical Center as the leader of the .
It is 2:30 am and I am lying awake fighting the anxiety of what will happen in a few hours. After what seems like days, the alarm clock sounds and my wife rolls over to hide from the approaching sunrise.
My feet touch the wood floor and a sense of courage and purpose come over me. The air is clean and warm preparing for another hot, dry day. Climbing into my car I begin to rehearse the plan in my head. Traffic is thin and every light is green. I wish I had more time. Entering the hospital for the first time, I am welcomed by fifteen restless faces. The eyes of franchisees and their employees look right through me and they realize they are not alone in the uncertainty. I expect the bellowing of a work horn to announce our start but it never comes. My lips part to speak my first words of the day. “We have trained for this and we are ready. Stay together, communicate and be calm. Let’s rock and roll”. Off we go. Walking onto the floor it is apparent we are not welcome. Nurses glare at us as we begin our tours and set our plans. Pleasant words are returned with silence or grunts. About fifteen minutes go by and the calls start. Nursing managers want linen now. Discharges are needed STAT. We are running. After six hours we have put out more flames than a fire battalion will in a year. The morning turns to afternoon as if we entered a time machine. The new bunch arrive. Better prepared for the onslaught of requests this shift flows more efficiently. Deep breath…
Taking my first conscious breath of the day I observe my surroundings. Having entered departments with little consideration of my surroundings I now begin to recognize the pulse of life and death beating at a slow pace. Like an airport, the visitors all have a different stories and destinations. Some are visiting joy and happiness with the birth of a newborn child. Heading home their world just got bigger. Others are discovering that grief and despair is their destination. A dark place that will see many visitors but few residents. Each department has its own culture. The Emergency Room is filled with need and pain. Reminiscent of a refugee camp, people displaced from their normal lives into the fear of the unknown. The Intensive Care Unit, with its subtle beeps and buzzes, reminds me of what church must be like on Mars. Not quite human but some evidence of life exists. Labor and Delivery is the utopia of life. The screams of pain quickly turn to tears of joy. New life replacing the losses down the hall. Never knowing how magical a place a hospital can be I find myself blessed to be part of this experience. Walking in I simply wanted to succeed but walking out I want to live. Life is fragile, tragic and beautiful…live each moment like it is your last.