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Eyewitness in Erewhon Academic Hospital
  1. I de Beaufort,
  2. F Meulenberg
  1. Erasmus MC/University Medical Center, Department of Medical Ethics and Philosophy of Medicine, Rotterdam, The Netherlands
  1. Correspondence to Inez de Beaufort, Erasmus MC/University Medical Center, Department of Medical Ethics and Philosophy of Medicine, PO Box 2040, NL - 3000 CA Rotterdam, The Netherlands; i.debeaufort{at}erasmusmc.nl

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Part 6: Heart of eloquent darkness

Failure is not an option! (From Apollo 13)

“That damned elevator … Just when you need it most, it’s stuck somewhere. It’s just like waiting for doctors, housewives returning from the sales, lovers-to-be, the approval of the financing of a project proposal, answers from Sven, that stunning young hunk to take you on his Harley-Davidson, alimony …”

The volunteer worker is standing before the closed elevator doors with her cart full of hot coffee and tea. Angrily she kicks the once gleaming doors. It doesn’t help.

At the other side of the department there are other worries than tea worries. An emergency patient has just been referred by the emergency room. Dr Van Tintelen looks, decides and acts, as usual, swift as an arrow. “A brain infarction, the man needs to be thrombolysed immediately. Hurry!”

The nurse, Indian-born Ernestine Sumar, runs away immediately. Her place is taken, unexpectedly, by a somewhat round-faced man with early-onset balding and baggy cheeks. It is Adam Otherwood, a former undertaker, who gave up his job because he wanted to work with living people. The Erewhon hospital offered him a post in the department of financial administration, where he checks stamps, and even gets to provide stamps himself. He also checks the insurance status of every patient brought in. Still panting from running up the stairs—the elevators refused to be of service to him, too—he speaks: “Beware, this patient is not insured.”

“Please, I’m busy.” Dr Van Tintelen, in her most offhand mood.

“You have to stop, doctor, that’s all I want to say.”

“Go away you, you hairsplitter, you nit-picker, you …”

Nurse Ernestine reappears. “Here …

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