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Wednesday, January 23, 2008

I was pushed aside: Waiting in the Emergency Department

Dear Mr. Porter:

This letter is to make you aware about my experience at your Emergency Department on March 13.

I am a college-educated, married, mother of two, and have been suffering from post-partum depression since the birth of my second daughter five months ago. On the evening of March 13, I became extremely overwhelmed with anxiety and stress and voluntarily called 911 to be taken to your Emergency Department. Had I even been able to imagine the experience I would have in the next 24 hours, I would have literally been more afraid to go to your E.D. than I would be had I stayed at home and "waited it out."

On the morning of March 14, I met with a member of the crisis team, who informed me that I would need to be hospitalized on an inpatient basis so that I could be evaluated. That being said, one can imagine that my emotional state was not so great. At 9 am, I was moved to the "family room" of the E.D. because of a lack of beds, which is understandable. I was shaking and crying, and dressed in only a "johnny." I was put in a room with a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) and a woman who was delusional, psychotic and combative. She was urine soaked and spitting and coughing uncontrollably. The CNA was pushy, miserable, and cold. I felt so unsafe being in the same room as that patient that I sat out in the hallway.

After about an hour of sitting in the hallway, I asked the charge nurse if there was somewhere I could sit that was a little more private (not to mention safer) than the hallway. The charge nurse said she would "find me a home," but never came back to even let me know that she couldn't accommodate me. What is worse, four hours went by and no one let me know what was going on. What could be worse than being alone without your family, with no one around in the most horrible time in your life, and then having no idea what's going to happen next?

Your nurses were all abrasive, and apathetic. I felt as though I was pushed aside, and then my problems didn't count. I felt like I was being treated like a criminal basically.

If your hospital and staff do not have the capacity, much less the compassion, to look at psychiatric illness the same as a medical illness, then I suggest you divert your "Section 12's”"and mentally ill to another hospital that can treat them with respect and compassion.

My experience in your E.D. was nightmarish. There is no other word to describe it.

Thank you for your time.


Mrs. Elizabeth DeCoste

Advice: If care in the hospital is disrespectful, and you get no response from the nurse or charge nurse, contact the hospital's patient advocate, ombudsman, or president.

Browse for related stories in the index at the very bottom of this page, or read a waiting time story.

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