By their own admission most of the time, a hospital is an awful as well as awfully dangerous place to be a patient in. As it is—you don’t usually plan these things so yesterday—Wednesday—I was informed that my father in law was in need of hospitalization and was taken to the emergency room at Maimonides Hospital in Boro Park, Brooklyn

Thankfully, I have not been in Maimonides for at least four or five years. That is, I remember being there but it was long enough so that I do not recall the specifics. My wife spent the day in the ER with her mother and father and I joined them at about 6pm that evening.

I was standing around waiting for my father in law to be admitted—that is for them to find an available bed for him in this hospital with more than 700 beds. I thought that it would be a standard or even perfunctory type of bureaucratic wait, you know, paperwork, getting the information into the computer and so on. But it wasn’t that at all.

The ER at Maimonides is a discombobulated, disorganized disaster area overstaffed with pencil pushers and administrators that take 12 hours to do what should take no more than an hour to accomplish. We are talking about a man here who is over 90 and whom the intake ER physician said is experiencing internal bleeding. Still he was forced to lie on a gurney in an overcrowded mismanaged emergency room for 14 hours.

The person at a desk in this wild and crazily busy environment is called an “expediter.” His job is to expedite the movement of patient that have to be admitted from the dizzying overburdened ER to a hospital room somewhere in this expansive facility. Frankly, it looked to me last night like he was doing the opposite—that is slowing the process down.

One of the shocking things I noticed yesterday was the fact that people come to the ER, claim they are not well, take a nap on a gurney for a few hours, get some quick superficial medical attention, two or three hot meals then just get up and say they are feeling better and leave. I don’t know for sure but I’m guessing this happens with regularity. I saw it yesterday with my own eyes with a woman right next to us.

Last night at about 8pm, a man that had all the trappings of homelessness came in, stood around until he spotted an empty compartment in the ER, then lifted himself onto the makeshift bed, kicked off his sneakers and in seconds was fast asleep. It would probably be 6 or more hours until anyone even noticed him. When I left he was snoring soundly in the hubbub and confusion of this place.

There’s lots more and guess what—I’m going back today.


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