Saturday, June 28, 2014

Centre hospitalier: La Palmosa

Emergency rooms in hospitals ( "Urgences" we say here) are probably pretty much alike the world over.  Some are staffed better than others perhaps … but how would one predict how many people in our vast population will injure themselves on any given day.   

I arrived by ambulance to the French town of Menton which is the biggest town next to the French/ Italian border.  It was the closest  hospital with an X-ray they told me.   The road was bumpy and rustic but I was comfortable.    At the emergency entrance, the "pompiers" gently deposited me on a gurney.  Their job was done.   

 I was then rolled into an examining room of what looked like a small, modern hospital with a lovely grounds.  It turned out to be La Palmosa, the only hospital in the city of Menton.  

  I thought I had had a bad sprain and so did the young male nurse( doctor? )who examined me first.  I thought I would get an ace bandage and be on my way.    

Waiting for an x-ray and not too uncomfortable,  I passed the time talking to the other "passengers" and with my friend Jeanne who followed soon after with my clothes and things from  Brea.  She wanted to get me a room for the night in Menton thinking that I would be out in a few hours and then she could pick me up the next morning.  She left to go back to Brea to secure a room for me online and phone me later, but alas it was the weekend of the Grand Prix and the whole area was booked up solid. 

  Besides the X-ray and scan changed all of these plans. 

" Cassee, bien cassee" said the young doctor appearing for a few embarrassed  moments to tell me the verdict.  We had both got it wrong. 

  And then began the long wait to receive a temporary cast and wait for a surgeon to see me.    

So I waited and waited….eight hours in all , in fact.   
I was by this time famished, dehydrated and left alone under the glaring lights in a heavily trafficked corridor.    I was allowed a small drink when I asked but the idea of a meal or piece of fruit was scoffed at rudely by a passing nurse.   She was too busy she claimed and they had long since stopped serving food.  I dug into my sack for a bite of "pain Begnat"  that Jeanne had left me from her lunch.  The few bites I had before it came apart into a soggy mess were well worth it. 

Finally, a very sympathetic looking man arrived on the scene.  His name was Dr Eric Merola and he is one of two traumatology surgeons at Menton . 
 He is a calm breeze in a chaotic storm and when he suggested I could go to Nice if I wished,  I reached out and grabbed him like a drowning sailor…. NO",  I said, "I want you to do it!"   

And he got on his "cell" with the anesthesiologist to schedule surgery for the following morning  …. Sunday:  Father's Day.   I was almost certain he was a benevolent dad to some lucky kids but he would not be spending the morning with them.  

Another hour or two dragged by after I saw Dr. Merola.  I was exhausted.  I had been there since 15h20 and it was now past ten at night.  Nurses were going off there shifts , changing into their street clothes and flirting with the firemen.   And there I stayed in the brightly lit hallway with no new patients coming in.   Finally, in desperation,  I called to the next promising nurse coming on his shift.  He took pity on me and called for someone to come down and wheel me up to the second floor. 

 Six out of Ten points for the emergency room at La Palmosa because no one could be bothered to get me up to my room even when things were slow.  But, ok,  make that a seven….as mostly everyone was helpful .  

 And I had to remember…that this was not a private hospital but quite a clean, attractive small public hospital.    

 Maybe , I ventured,  as I ate my apple compote for dinner,  that landing in this hospital was a "lucky break". 

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