A Tale of Marriage, Medicine and Murder

Chapter Eleven

This is a preview to the chapter Chapter Eleven from the book PERSONAL BAGGAGE by Margaret McMillion.
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Set against a background of rain-rinsed pine and live oak, Dixiana appeared fresh and clean as Penny drove across town to the hospital early Saturday morning. A few leaves clung to the deciduous trees, but last night’s 30-mile-per-hour wind had sent all but the most stubborn foliage down to become part of the dead, brown mat concealing acorns and ferns until their resurrection in the spring.

A vivid dream haunted her. A black-clad woman standing by a window in a cold, smoke-filled room had extended her arm, stretched out her fingers, and beckoned. Penny had wanted to touch her hand—to feel her skin, but fear held her back, and the woman disintegrated as the Bose alarm sounded. Her form disappeared into the air like dust particles separating.

Fortified with coffee, Penny took Report by herself because Maureen had called in sick during the night. Director of Nurses Agnes Gwen breezed into the Unit escorting a woman Penny had never met. “I want to introduce you to Flossie Mae Fox, Dr. Scales’s office nurse, who will be working with us on weekends when we need her. After I show her around, I’ll bring her back to help you.”

The patients were finishing breakfast when Mrs. Gwen returned with Flossie Mae, a dark-haired LPN with a great tan.

Penny pulled Mrs. Gwen aside. “Did you find my write-up about a head-injury patient?”

“Yes, thanks.” Mrs. Gwen smiled reassuringly. “I asked the physician about that patient and he said she was doing fine.”

“She died.” Penny watched her boss for a reaction.

Mrs. Gwen’s expression was stony, her eyes unreadable, and she changed the subject. “Penny, did they tell you in Report about the telemetry patient in 304 with a toxic digoxin level?”

Deciding that her boss didn’t want to talk about Mrs. Spoonhouse in front of a new employee, Penny tried to concentrate on what Mrs. Gwen was saying about the patient down the hall.

“We discontinued her digoxin when she was admitted, so we’ve been trying to figure out why her level keeps rising, and this morning one of the floor nurses caught the patient’s daughter giving her a pill. The woman wasn’t trying to sneak and do it, either; she said the doctor told her that her mother needs digoxin for her heart, so she makes sure she gets it every day.”

Penny touched the monitor screen with a finger. “Her pattern has been fine so far, but I’ll watch her. She’s on telemetry number two.” Penny showed Flossie Mae. “We have four on telemetry today; you can see the patient’s name, room number, and doctor’s name on the label above each screen.”
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"Margaret McMillion's PERSONAL BAGGAGE is a very entertaining story of professional life within a corrupt medical community, and the toll..."

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