• Pamela Wilkinson

Learning the Hard Way

I recently spent an entire day in the emergency room with my oldest son, and right before that, with my brother. We think they will both be fine, but I learned a few things along the way. This article isn’t about real estate, but if you ever find yourself in a similar situation, my tips may save you some time or discomfort.


1. What to Bring:

  • I guess this applies to most public places, but particularly hospitals: Layer your clothing & bring a jacket. The rooms will be either too warm or they will be so cold, your lips turn blue and your nose drips icicles. (Hint: If you’re nice to the nurses, they will bring you a warmed blanket, even when you aren’t the patient.)

  • Bring a tote bag to carry all your things, like the jackets you have to shed when they finally turn on the heat, your iPad and the patient’s wallet, shoes & clothes. If they have to change rooms for tests or be admitted to the main hospital, you will have a lot of “stuff” to carry.

  • Bring the patient’s I.d. and insurance card.

  • Bring your OWN i.d. I was very surprised to learn that I wouldn’t be allowed to accompany my son without an i.d. I had to get a badge to go beyond the front receiving area, and that required identification.

  • Bring a list of all medications they are taking, with the dosages. This will save a HUGE amount of time. No one reads what you’ve already told the previous six staff members. Just hand them your list.

  • Some ERs have vending areas and some do not. Stick a couple of bottles of water and a pack of almonds in that bag. You may be there awhile.

2. What to Do:

  • Remember where you parked and write it down. Often you will be leaving through a different part of the hospital than the door you entered.

  • Equally important is writing down ALL the symptoms and other information the doctors need to diagnose an illness. When I’m a patient, I go completely blank when the nurse/doctor walks in. If you are the person with the patient, you can help fill in the details the patient is too ill to recall.

  • Those doctors and nurses move like they have jet engines in their shoes. An ER is a busy place. Write down your questions as you think of them, like on the notepad in your phone. Then when the doctors get to your room, you will be able to remember what you wanted to ask. Again, I tend to blank out when the person with the answers appears.

3. Be patient. I don’t know why some things take as long as they do, but I’m not a medical person. Remember that these professionals work long hours, taking care of everything from runny noses, to overdoses and horrendous injuries. Cut them some slack, don’t whine and thank them for their help. They are the true “public servants,” and they deserve our respect and gratitude.


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