Thursday, 14 April 2011

Sorry We're Closed. Please Come Again at a More Convenient Time.

Since I've started my internship in the ER ward, Kasr Al Aini's ER ward has closed approximately 4 times (each time lasting a few days and one of them lasting a week). Here's a bit of background information I think you'll need to understand the post a bit better (not because any of you are stupid or anything.....Well some of you are but I digress).

My rotation started on March 1. That's about a month after the police decided to call it a day and abandon the entire Egyptian population. Now I don't know if the police decided to grace other places (like for example all the embassies and traffic conjunctions that I see on my way to work). All I know is that someone up in the hierarchy of 'important people' decided actively ," What? Hospitals? Fuck that. Who'd want to attack a hospital?"........The answer is : Alot of fucking people.  My first week was a morning shift, so I hadn't seen anything too dangerous happen. We still had civillian security and for some reason thugs tend to lay low when it's sun outside. Like vampires, except not sexy and more smelly. But as I was told, the night shift was horrific. Stories of doctors held at knife point to prioritize patients and just general violence towards doctors that delivered bad news. The interns, along with the doctors and nurses, under the guidance of the Manager of the ER ward decided to shut the place down and hold a protest in solidarity in front of the Dean's office. Now the dean was new, but she seemed nice enough. We finally talked to her and she seemed willing to understand that our situation was delicate. "I don't know what to do. We don't have the finances for privatized security and the Ministry of Interior doesn't seem to give a shit right now." So we asked about the military. She said it was a work in progress and hopefully we'd get a few soldiers by the end of the week. We eventually did. We got a sweet jeep and a bunch of military officers ready to protect us much as they could.

Minus a few silly situations here and there both involving thugs that didn't seem to care and the officers themselves not being as , 'efficient' as one would've liked them to be, life was good. Most patients came in. Thugs were weeded out and anyone who caused a scene was escorted outside. But then, something happened. I wasn't there the day they decided to leave so I got a lot of conflicting reports, but suffice to say: One night it got really bad, and there were more thugs than usual and the officers didn't want to hurt anyone (because gee, who'd want to hurt the thugs with knives) so they up and left. This left  the 2 civillian security guards with a bunch of crazy assholes so needless to say, the ER ward shut down that night. Thankfully no one was murdered or anything (though I heard that an intern was beat up pretty brutally that night) Thus began the week and a half long shut down of the ward. Mind you, we still had to sign in daily because the hospital is government owned. And if anyone here reading has ever worked for a government facility, they'll understand that signing in and signing out are pretty much the foundation of every government job here in Egypt. Fuck what happens. So long as a signature is shown, we're all dandy.  Now, the manager had our back  on this. The Dean, however, didn't. She threatened to fire every single doctor and nurse working in the ward, stating things like,  "When I was an intern, we were in danger too." (in the 70s.... in Egypt. The 'Hippie' period. I'm sure it was hell. I'm sure getting fleas from unkempt hair, and excessive sun exposure to micro skirt thighs is equivalent to men wielding swords and bats) She said it was our duty as doctors to heal the sick, our lives be damned. I wasn't there when she gave this sanctimonious speech but someone I know actually swears she said "Look at it this way. If any of you die. You'll die as martyrs and get to go to Heaven."  ...............I'd say something witty, but that statement is pretty fucking out there just on its own thank you very much.

Thankfully, none of us got fired. At the end of the week, lo and behold, the blue cars came back. The cops came back. Donning their extra cool sunglasses, sweet ass berets, sexy vests, here were our saviors come to save the day. They stayed in their car and said they'd watch our backs. The problem was they were being literal. They literally stayed in their cars and watched our backs as patient's families were beating doctors inside or threatening to kill all of us (Because you know, homicide becomes a predisposing emotion when someone in your family is on the verge of death) So we closed again, and opened when they worked , and CLOSED AGAIN. We're currently closed right now so I have no idea what's in store for our wacky ward next.

Now, as glad as I am to not be working in the ward (because hey, every time they close I get to spend some quality me time with my friends, my TV shows and my games) I'm sure patients aren't exactly enjoying this as much as I am. Let me paint a picture for you , and mind you, this happens every single day when the ER ward is closed.

Group of friends are crossing the street.
Egyptian traffic dictates that 1 out of 10 of them is going to get hit by a car.
"Oh my God, we need to take him to the hospital right now!"
They get in the cab and they're driving as fast as they can. This guy's life is in danger, he's lost alot of blood and he needs medical attention right away.
Finally, after 30 minutes of grueling traffic, they make it. The doors of the hospital look like the Pearly Gates themselves.
"Our friend.. He's been in a car accident! He needs some medical attention RIGHT NOW!"
"Sorry, we're closed."
"What? Excuse me?"
"We're really sorry. But we're having an internal affair going on with lack of security right now, so you're just going to have to take your friend somewhere else."
"Oh, take him to Demerdash. We think they're open right now"
"About an hour from here. You're going to want to take the bridge. Again, we're really sorry here."

Now this goes against my inherent laziness, but I sincerely hope we sort out our issues with the hospital's security as soon as possible. I wouldn't want to be playing Grand Theft Auto IV knowing people are dying because that'd just ruin my playing mood.

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