Monday, September 5

I Want a Transfer

My agency doesn’t do many “transfers”(non-emergent transport, usually from facility to facility). The local hospitals and other facilities know we are an all-volunteer agency and try to keep from taking us away from home and work unless necessary (there are two paid agencies within 25 minutes and they happily take the business).

In the last week or so I’ve been on two transfers. The first was an accidental meeting. We had just delivered a patient to the E.D. when a paid crew of two asked us if we could help lifting a patient. This gentleman was large, and they were having trouble moving him even with the Hoyer lift (sort of a human crane). Part way through the process, it became clear they were not going to be able to fit him into their ambulance (they had a smaller, van style rig). They explained that the patient was in his last few days of life and wanted to get home to die there in comfortable surroundings around those he loved and who loved him. If he couldn’t get home, he’d die in the hospital. So, we decided to help everyone out and loaded the patient into our rig, and with the help of the paid crew and the fire department, we were able to get him back into his home and in his favorite chair. I recently learned he died the next day, and while I am sad for his family, I feel good that he got to die where he wanted.

The second transfer was by special request. I had taken a patient in to our local hospital for oral hemorrhaging post tooth extraction (the patient was on Coumadin due to being in atrial flutter). Several days later the patient was in the ICU/CCU of our local hospital, STILL HEMORRHAGING, and needed to be transported to an oral surgeon’s office 25 minutes away, watched while the surgeon worked on him, and returned to our ICU/CCU. The hospital tried to arrange a paid service for the round-trip transfer, but the patient specifically asked for us. Frankly, the idea of going away from home, during dinnertime and my kid’s bedtime, was not appealing. However, it was clear from my conversation with our chief that the patient really wanted us to take him. So, we did. It turned out to be an interesting trip. I got to watch most of the surgery, standing by with ALS drugs and a defibulator (they had these in the office, but it was clear they didn’t get used much). Watching the oral surgeon work was very cool – a LOT of dexterity needed there. The patient is a former professor from the institution at which I work. The oral surgeon is an alumnus, as is his daughter who was assisting. One of my crewmates is a current student. Thus we had an old prof., a current prof., two old students and a current student. The patient was stable the whole time and things were un-eventful, and most of us had a good time (I’m not convinced the patient did…).

Classes are going full bore, and summer is showing signs of making its exit. We’ve had a home football game, and that is usually a sign that the nights are going to start getting colder.