Monday, September 08, 2008

Another trip to the ER

I judge people. There, I've said it. Today was day 4 of my shots, only one more round to go. The ER was really busy this morning. No traumas or anything, at least that I know of, just a busy day in the outpatient clinic. Oh wait, I mean ER. I was in the waiting room for about two and half hours to get my shot, which gave me ample time to watch and pass judgement on my fellow patients. The first thing I noticed was that, for the first hour and forty minutes, I was the only white patient there. I don't think there was anything special about that, since previous trips to the ED have shown a more or less balanced racial composition in the waiting room. Ever since our execrable class "Critical Issues in Healthcare", I have been more aware of my own attitudes towards racial issues. I'm from western Oregon, an area of the country which is nearly entirely racially homogenous. Surprisingly, my hometown also prides itself on respecting diversity. I guess that's easy to do when everyone looks like you, the only differences being in which gender you find attractive (your own or the opposite). I wonder how much self proclaimed respect we'd find if Eugene had a region of town like the north end of town here. Would Eugenenians embrace their violent, poor, black brothers as readily as their gay brothers? I doubt it, but I'm an inveterate cynic. I would wager that all the diversity talk would evaporate. Before I left home, I considered myself 'tolerant'. Faced with an opportunity to prove my tolerance, however, I'm rather disappointed with myself. Of course I'm not an overt racist, but I have discovered that outside of the insular homogeneity of my hometown that my attitudes are not quite as magnanimous as they ought to be.

On another note,
Today in the ED we had two sterling examples of people who don't know what the 'E' in ER stands for. One was a white woman who had a laceration on her finger. It was maybe 1cm in length, like you might get slicing an onion. You or I would have probably put a bandaid on it and called everything okay. The next patient was a black lady who had sprained her ankle 4 weeks ago (!) and was coming in for treatment with a loosely wrapped ACE bandage around her lower leg. I'm not sure if she was trying to scam the workman's comp system or what, but I'm pretty sure her case was not in any way emergent. Now, yours truly of course did not have an emergency either, far from it. It happens, however, that the only place you can procure the rabies vaccine happens to be the ER. Consequently, every week, I traipse my healthy little butt down to the ER for a $75 copay and a shot. $375 is what it costs to keep yourself free of rabies 'round these parts.

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