ABQ’s overwhelmed emergency room system is in a state of emergency »Albuquerque Journal

During the week of August 9th, I had an unexpected medical emergency. Mind you, I’ve only had about five emergency visits in my 49-year life.

I am a hard working, clean professional. I work hard, pay my bills, and try to live like many of you out there. I had a terrible experience that opened my eyes. An experience that I think deserves to be shared.

The event was so extreme it deserved a visit to the emergency room. On the morning of August 10th, I entered Lovelace Hospital on Montgomery and was examined and examined fairly quickly by an attending physician. My problems were gastrointestinal in nature and my PCP had previously told me that a hospital stay would be required if the event occurs because the condition cannot be treated at home.

The attending doctor told me “there were no beds” and “I have no beds for the dying and the COVID patients, I cannot help you, go home.” She prescribed opioids and sent me home.

Later that evening my condition worsened. The thought, “I think I’m actually dying” crossed my mind. I called 911 and was taken to Presbyterian Downtown at my request. The emergency room staff put me in a wheelchair, pushed me into the circus of an emergency room waiting room, and left me. An hour later, writhing in pain, the staff hadn’t even noticed my presence. At all.

An elderly lady who sat next to me told me that she had been there for 11 hours and hadn’t even received a triage. I went out. My wife then drove me back to Lovelace Women’s Hospital, where, after an immediate triage, we sat in the emergency room waiting room for four hours, just to be seen. During the triage they told me that there are actually no beds and that it will take a while. We sat in the emergency room waiting room until about 4:45 a.m., when I was finally seen by the attending doctor. This attending doctor spent about 10 minutes with me and said, “This is crazy, I’ll admit you right away.” After a three-day hospital stay, my condition improved enough to allow me to recover at home.

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I am writing because I was shocked and appalled by the treatment I received in both emergency rooms and the current state of our apparently overwhelmed medical system. I was treated like a junkie looking for pain medication and my first treatment was appalling. I had a legitimate need.

After admission to the women’s clinic, the attending doctor and staff were wonderful, but the entry was terrible. My wife had to stand up for me as I writhed in pain and was incoherent. If it weren’t for her, maybe I would sit there. Somebody has to fly the flag.

After this experience, I have a very different opinion about our medical system. I am not sure what the answer is; but I think it is high time for intervention. Whether overworked staff, staff shortages, lack of funding, the current phases of COVID-19 or just mismanagement, the systems must be viewed and addressed. And fast. Otherwise, you may not have the emergency care you need to survive a medical emergency. We must stand together and call for quick investigations and reforms.

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