For the past couple of weeks I've been working the adult walk-in clinics that my workplace holds a couple of evenings a week.
Anyone who's been reading this blog for any time at all knows I am the farthest thing there is from a nurse. I know nothing about medicine except what I've learned from watching House (which is that everything initially looks like sarcoidosis, but after you almost kill the patient a couple of times doing random tests, it invariably turns out to be something else).
Also, sick people are kind of a snoozer, because all they ever want to talk about is how sick they are, and how various medications are affecting them.
So, not a nurse. (You may all whistle a sigh of relief.)
Anyway, the reason I've been working the clinics is this:
1) Our adult walk-in clinics start at 5 p.m.
2) We can see somewhere between 20 and 35 patients, depending on how many volunteer physicians we have on a given evening, and how fast they are.
3) Between 40 and 50 patients show up for the average clinic.
4) Patients begin arriving around 4 p.m., but we don't start processing paperwork that early, because if we did, they'd start arriving at 3, and then 2, and you get the picture.
5) We don't take appointments, because our client-base tends to be transportation-challenged, and we wind up with so many no-shows we might as well not bother.
6) The nurses arrive around 5 to start triage.
7) The doctors show up around 6.
So, from the time we open the doors, we have about an hour to talk to 40 or 50 people and figure out who we're going to see, who we're not going to see (because they have something we don't treat (like
the clap STDs), or because they really should be at the emergency room, or because they're not as sick as other folks who are there that night) and in what order (based on who's sickest).
In that hour, we also have to figure out who's new and who's returning, either find or make charts (depending on which it is) and pair up the non-English-speaking with a translator (either in person or via phone).
If there was ever a process begging for attention, this is it.
And while I may suck stethoscopes at all things medical, I'm wizard at process improvement.
(Sound of cracking knuckles.)
Hold on tight, kids. It looks like we're in for a bumpy ride.