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Shelton Mason County Journal
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May 22, 2014     Shelton Mason County Journal
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May 22, 2014

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L L [/i !il I Ill I! I r i Page A-1 (5 - Mason County Journal - I hursday, May 22, 2014 Nurse Marian Hildebrandt exits one of 13 patient rooms in the Emergency Department at Mason General Hospital. Nurse Nate Quinlan draws an injection for a patient. "ANYTHING CAN WALTZ THROUGH THE DOORS OF THIS EMERGENCY DEPARTMENT." continued from previous page but for urgent care, Gushee said. "I think the public doesn't really understand EDs really well," he said. "Emergency departments are for emer-  ........  gencies." Urgent care cases are often sprains, coughs or fevers, Gushee said - issues where a patient needs a same-day ap- pointment. Emergency departments are re- quired by law to treat everyone, re- gardless of their ability to pay. For that reason, some people without insurance come to the ED when they should visit a primary care provider. "If that's your only access (to health care) that's your only access ... (but) there's something about having a pri- mary care provider who knows you," Gushee said. "You'll never be happy if you're hopping from doctor to doctor." That tactic, as Gushee said, can also be a way for people to obtain pre- scription drugs. "Every day, multiple times a day," he said. "It's big business." Having electronic medical records has helped reduce the amount of prescription drugs sold on the street because doctors can tell what a patient has been prescribed, when and from what clinic or hospital. "We see a lot of these people over and over again," Gushee said. "We're a family" Most staff members in the ED work 12 hours or more at a time. When pa- tient rooms are full and it's standing room only in the waiting room, they often skip breaks and lunch, or stay late to lend a hand. "We try to help each other," said registered nurse (RN) Traci Bishop. "Monday and Tuesday tend to be busi- er, as a general i, Ule," Still, many said they couldn't imag- ine working anywhere else. "I love my job," said RN Linda Schwartz. "I always wanted to be a bedside nurse. I totally love being right next to you, taking care of you." Despite the frantic nature of their jobs, nurses at Mason General's Emer- gency Department make time to find Teddy bears for their youngest pa- tients to ease their fears about getting tests and shots. Schwartz has been an RN for 39 years, first in Kansas, then in Wash- ington at Harborview Medical Center, and now at Mason General Hospital. She has been an emergency room nurse since 1980. In her many years in the field, she said one of the most memorable cases came when she was working at Harborview. An intoxicated homeless person was hit by a train in Seattle, and was rushed to the ED, she said. "First they brought the patient in, then they brought the leg in," she said. "Anything can waltz through the doors of this emergency department." Gushee has worked at Mason Gen- eral Hospital for 21 years. "I like the critical-care aspects," he said. "The idea that you don't know what's going to happen next appeals to me." Dr. Andrea Plaskiewicz, left, concentrates as a call from an ambulance en route to the hospital is bioadcast in the Emer- gency Department. Nurse Andrea Contris takes down the information and relays instructions. In the past, emergency doctors were often general practice or family medi- cine physicians on rotation through the department, Gushee said. Today, all doctors in Mason General's ED are board certified in emergency medicine. "A primary care doctor thinks about the most likely diagnosis. As an emergency doctor, I think about the most dangerous diagnosis," he said. "I don't really care about the things that don't kill people. I'm here to deal with the things that do kill people. If it's bad enough to come to an emer- gency room, your cough might not be a cough." By necessity, he said, many ED doc- tors and nurses are of the glass-half- empty mindset. Gushee did his emergency medicine residency in Fresno, California, and said the Mason General Hospital Emer- gency Department often deals with a different set of injuries and ailments. 'e get a lot less penetrating trau- ma than other places," he said, refer- ring to gun and knife wounds. However, Gushee said hospital staff often work with police officers after violent crimes, or guards from the Mason County Jail or the Washington Correction Center when they bring in inmates. Sometimes, he said, the police respond to the ED to help with a par- ticularly unruly patient. "We tend to be the drunk tank," Gushee said. Because of their frequent interac- tions, staff have a good relationship The entrance to the Emergency Department at Mason Ger with law enforcement. "They usually realize we're all working on the same problem," Gush- ee said. "We generally know the same group of people." After working long hours together, Photographer To Journal's publish eight-to- 12 hour Hospital's Emerg, capture the staff tojoumalists to e eral Hospital. Hyde, who h also the tr, spent four nights in hifts at Mason General ncy Department to t work. Access for pho- nergency departments often struggling to diagnose a problem or save a life, staff become very close, they said. Between cases, doctors and nurses joke with each other to relieve some of the tension. "Our relationship is really good," Olels said. "We're a family - an extended family." is rare. In order tq comply with federal health privacy lairs and hospital policy, prior agreement vas made with the hos- pital to not publish any identifiable pho- tos of patients without a signed release.