A Tale of Marriage, Medicine and Murder

What gives you such insight into the nursing profession?


As a child, I read and reread books about Cherry Ames and her adventures in different nursing situations. My grandmother made uniforms for my sister and me and we wore them as we nursed sick dolls and stuffed animals in our playroom.

My ambition was to be a nurse or a lab technician and, although marriage and starting a family sidetracked me for a while, when I needed to earn money, I chose to work toward an associate degree in nursing at a nearby community college.

I was a registered nurse for thirty years: working as a floor nurse, as an emergency room nurse, in obstetrics, in home health, in critical care, and in oncology. I found that the same basic skills were required wherever I worked, but I added new skills and new friends each time I changed settings.

My nursing salary enabled us to educate four children and helped pay for our home.

Search result for 'nurse' in PERSONAL BAGGAGE

Chapter 1: Chapter One
"...the kitchen table. For some reason, math was harder for her than it used to be, and it had been a while since she had grappled with problems like these because manufacturers packaged most drugs in individual portions. The hospital pharmacists dispensed the others already measured, and nurses only double checked the doses. ..."
"...To a certain extent, Penny had enjoyed her children more when they were young: so cuddly, cute, and so eager to learn. As they grew older and after she became a nurse, their needs multiplied in the dark. Penny had once believed that if she tried hard enough she could be a perfect mother; Dr. Spock’s falling-apart paperback was her Bible. But as time passed, she became a survivor, struggling with one day’s catastrophes only to face new obstacles ..."
"... prices on school lunches. Besides, tomorrow would be a new beginning when people would not know her. She would be smart and careful and kind, and wash her hands before and after every patient contact. Yes! This was her opportunity to become a better nurse. Determined to make a good first ..."

Chapter 2: Chapter Two
" spending tomorrow with Maureen, who had been her friend for the past ten years. Maureen had cleaned and cooked for a doctor’s household through high school and after graduation had worked as an aide in the now-demolished old City Hospital while studying to become a licensed practical nurse. She had taught Penny the fine points of nursing procedures and of surviving in the profession. The Director of Nursing for Dixiana’s ­fifty-bed River Park Hospital had agreed to schedule Maureen to work each of Penny’s weekends, starting tomorrow. ..."

Chapter 3: Chapter Three
"... used as an entrance by doctors, each of whom had a key. In the tiny nurses’ lounge, lanky Penny and short, stocky Maureen dug through stacks of puke-green scrub uniforms for their sizes, suited up, and sipped hot coffee while they waited. Eager as babysitters to relinquish their charges when ..."
"... Eager as babysitters to relinquish their charges when the parents return, two night nurses gave Report on the five in CCU and the six on telemetry, patients they had monitored since 7 p.m. yesterday. Leaving the cramped cubicle, the tired nurses hurried out the door, headed for home and bed. ..."
"...patients every day, unless they designated another physician to cover for them. The grinning, forty-five-year-old physician swung his arms, spreading the scent of Brut Cologne. His patient, an elderly man recovering from a severe respiratory infection, had accidently pulled out his IV during the night and the nurses, after three unsuccessful sticks, left it out hoping that his antibiotic could be administered by mouth. Dr. Scales usually came to the hospital early and they had not notified him because, on other occasions, he had ranted at them for calling him when he “was about to come ..."
"...It had only been a month since Dr. Scales, with Penny assisting, stuck an actively-bleeding GI patient twenty-seven times trying to get a subclavian IV established when the nurses had been unable to start a peripheral IV. Scales used all four subclavian kits they stocked in the Unit, and there was blood everywhere when Penny called the supervisor for more. The supervisor brought what ER had, plus all the kits she found in Central Supply, and ..."
"... its proper place in the chart. “He’s a new duck,” the doctor said, flipping the chart pages back and forth between lab results and his orders. After seeing patients and completing his documentation, he leaned back in his chair to visit with the nurses. Penny related a happening with ..."
"... what was in her mouth wasn’t her pills.” Smiling at the story, Dr. Ghent pushed up from his chair, grasping the desk to steady himself. “She’s a retired Navy nurse, a lieutenant commander...could probably teach us all a thing or two.” Penny and Maureen looked down when Dr. Ghent ..."
"...sigh. “I’m okay, go on out and leave the hall door open. I’ll survive fifteen minutes of interrogation.” Curiously enough, some visitors would peek under the covers and ask a poor, sick patient if he were cold or in pain or thirsty and demand that the nurses fix whatever-it-was right that minute! ..."
"...Mr. Brown, husband of the patient with an allergic reaction, was one of the visitors. He reeked of alcohol and ancient sweat, a combination which Maureen said, “would gag a maggot.” When his wife had been so swollen, he had threatened to kill the nurses if she died, but upon discovering his wife’s eyes open and her lips back to their normal size, he shook Penny’s hand and laughed. ..."
"...After visitors and before lunch the nurses reassessed their patients, looking for changes. Penny began with one of Dr. Lawrence’s two patients, a thirty-six-year-old male named Darryl Dodson, admitted with chest pain to rule out heart attack. As she approached his bed, a sudden dread squeezed her throat and her heart shifted. ..."
"... to transfer Dodson to a cardiologist in Jacksonville. Dr. Lawrence returned to his patient’s bed as Rebecca Daniels, one of South Station’s nurses entered the Unit. “What’s going on in here? Do you-all need some help?” We’re going to need a chart copied to send with a ..."
"... won’t have to work extra.” The roar of the helicopter filled the Unit, and the noise became deafening when Penny opened the back door to watch bent-over medical transport nurses in black jump-suits run toward her from beneath the still-rotating blades. Dr. Lawrence strode into the Unit ..."
"... blades. Dr. Lawrence strode into the Unit from the hall and motioned the helicopter personnel into the nurses’ lounge while Penny and Maureen adjusted Dodson’s pillows and his portable oxygen and the EMTs collected his personal belongings and the copied chart. Coming out of the ..."
"...When Dr. Frank Lawrence examined a patient he expected the nurse to take notes on what he said and then to sit at the desk beside him and read back what she had written while he wrote orders. He read each order aloud, asking the nurse if she understood. He seldom missed anything but the process was lengthy. ..."
"...Dr. Lawrence despised the plastic dividers kept in charts to separate lab results from doctors’ orders from nurses’ notes, etc. The nurses tried to check his charts in case someone had inserted dividers by mistake and to remove them before he made rounds because everybody’s day went better if Dr. Lawrence was happy. Finding dividers contaminating his chart, he tossed them, one by one, over ..."

Chapter 4: Chapter Four
"...nursee bedside Penny patted the woman’s leg, pressed the hearing aid into her hand, then raised the head of the bed and positioned the over-bed table. She explained where the food was located on her tray: fruit salad at ten o’clock, iced tea at two, and on the dinner ..."
"... I was that other person a long time ago.” Penny placed a hand on her patient’s arm, impressed that someone who couldn’t see her badge remembered her name. “SYLVIA, IF YOU FEEL LIKE IT, PLEASE TELL WHAT IT WAS TO BE A NAVY nurse.” The woman’s voice took on a conspiratorial ..."
"... fish and loaded the fork. “I was married but nobody knew it. The Navy didn’t allow nurses to marry so we did it in secret. My husband was on a ship so I didn’t get to see him often, but when it was all over, they changed the rule, and we got married again.” “WHICH ANNIVERSARY DO YOU ..."
"... into her husband’s car she collapsed.” Maureen positioned the wheelchair next to the empty bed just inside the door. The nurses replaced the patient’s clothes with a hospital gown, helped her to lie down, then connected her to the heart monitor. Maureen yelled over her shoulder as she ..."
"...The chart contained a telephone order canceling the discharge and placing the woman in Critical Care. She was still short of breath after they had raised the head of her bed to a forty-five-degree angle. Her vital signs were within normal limits, but neither nurse could hear breath sounds on the front or back of her right chest. Penny started oxygen and called for Respiratory Therapy while Maureen gathered the equipment needed for emergency chest tube insertion. ..."
"...Dr. Ghent threw open the outside door and charged to the bedside. Puffing, he listened to what the nurses said and placed his stethoscope against the patient’s right lung fields. He ordered a STAT portable chest X-ray and arterial blood gasses. By this time the woman seemed comfortable, even embarrassed at all the fuss. While the diagnostic procedures were carried out, Penny gave Report ..."

Chapter 5: Chapter Five
"... keep a low profile whoever’s supervising won’t notice we’re down to two patients.” In the nurses’ lounge, Penny and Maureen stared at the bulletin board, on which the new rule was displayed: CCU STAFFING POLICY UPDATE. EFFECTIVE IMMEDIATELY. UNIT SCHEDULING WILL CONTINUE AS BEFORE ..."
"... ONLY ONE NURSE IS REQUIRED. After Report, Maureen was helping Lt. Commander Emmerson eat breakfast when Dr. Ghent unlocked the back door. “You nurses make me proud, but it looks like the better we do this job, the less business we have.” From the doctor’s disheveled ..."
"...Maureen bathed Sylvia and wheeled her to the floor while Penny combined a bath and linen change with her assessment of Mrs. Chumley. Penny collected Sylvia’s meds and her chart in preparation for going out to give Report to South when Maureen returned, since both nurses could not be out of the Unit at the same time. ..."
"... had trouble reading it. She would have to figure out his orders, process them, and take care of the patient by herself. The phone rang again and the ER nurse gave Report. Penny said, “Why didn’t you send her to Jacksonville?” “Because Dr. Scales told the family we can take care of ..."
"... and the ER nurse gave Report. Penny said, “Why didn’t you send her to Jacksonville?” “Because Dr. Scales told the family we can take care of her here.” The nurse added a sarcastic sniff. Penny paged the supervisor overhead. She needed to get her chest-tube patient back to bed, ..."
"...Maureen was working on the stack of telemetry rhythm strips, interpreting them in preparation for taping them onto sheets in the charts at South Station, when Penny slumped into the chair beside her and began to sort through Mrs. Spoonhouse’s dismantled chart, looking for the nurses’ notes. “What do you suppose Dr. Scales told that family?” ..."

Chapter 6: Chapter Six
"...On Tuesday morning, Penny worked in JMC’s Critical Care Unit with a young nurse who sent her to the laboratory for a unit of packed red blood cells. Penny had read Jacksonville hospital’s procedure for this in the policy manual but actually doing it was another matter. Ignoring the elevator, she walked down two flights on the concrete staircase to the ..."
"... At the Blood Bank, the odor was a combination of acetone and reagents. Another nurse was checking out blood and Penny waited her turn beneath a bulletin board displaying snapshots of lab employees with their pets. Under each picture were the names of both the animal and its owner. The ..."
"... were the names of both the animal and its owner. The nurse ahead of Penny talked with a white-jacketed lab technician. “I’m telling you that we have orders to type, cross-match, and transfuse two units. No parameters are written.” The tech, whose picture showed her hugging a ..."
"...Penny read aloud the numbers on her patient’s unit of blood, and the lab technician verified them with the paperwork. After they both signed the ledger, Penny climbed the deserted stairway to the third floor. The CCU nurse would watch as she administered the blood so that, if she did it correctly, Penny would receive credit on her orientation task sheet and be approved to give transfusions in any department of the Jacksonville hospital. ..."
"...At the bedside in CCU, Penny and the patient’s nurse checked the unconscious woman’s wrist bands against the labels on the blood bag. Jacksonville’s policy was for a nurse to remain in the patient’s room for the first fifteen minutes, so while the blood infused the nurses sat at the bedside watching television. ..."
"... me Dr. Wiseman changed hospital policy for blood administration.” The young nurse shot a wary glance at Penny. “Yes, now they always check a hematocrit. There was a lot of controversy over it...I guess because of cost.” “Dr. Wiseman was our Critical Care Director in Dixiana last year ..."
"... added, “Her obituary was in the paper.” The nurse kept her gaze on The Jerry Springer Show. “Look, I don’t really know what happened, and gossip can get you fired around here.... I guess you’re asking because you cared about her, though.” “I admired her.... She offered me a job ..."
"... After lunch, Penny visited Human Resources, explained her family emergency and received approval for her time off. Next, she located Neurology, where the unit secretary pointed out which nurse was taking care of Dr. Scales’s head-injury patient but would not give a condition report. ..."
"... head-injury patient but would not give a condition report. Penny introduced herself to Mrs. Spoonhouse’s nurse. “I admitted her to CCU in Dixiana and transferred her to you this past Sunday. Please tell me how she’s doing.” “She won’t last much longer; she’s got brain stem ..."
"... Although she continued to help the nurse with whom she had been assigned, Penny’s mind was not focused on the work. She spent her spare minutes either documenting Dr. Scales’s admission and transferral of Mrs. Spoonhouse or dreading her trip to Charleston—moving her parents would be hard. ..."

Chapter 7: Chapter Seven
"... mouth gaping. Penny shrugged, “She said Daddy didn’t have enough energy to make love. She was worried about him and she asked me, as a nurse, if I had any suggestions, so I mentioned oral sex. She asked me to describe how it’s done, but I didn’t know she’d tried it.” “She’d be ..."

Chapter 9: Chapter Nine
"...“Sure. There’s no survival-of-the-fittest attitude like there is out there on the medical/surgical floors–-we help each other. I’m still trying to adjust to having our patients’ family members living in the rooms, but it doesn’t seem to bother the other nurses. They smile and give everybody peel-me-a-grape service.” ..."
"...years apart. Now that the girls were all in high school, Maria worked at the hospital to avoid being at home when they were there. Her children telephoned their mother with one crisis after another, and on days when Maria was off (and away from home) Oncology nurses tried to solve teenage problems. ..."
"...taking vital signs and Penny could hear her joking with patients about “my big black booty.” Afterward, she would prepare the paperwork for tomorrow and manage the desk until 11 p.m. From 7 p.m. until 7 a.m. Oncology usually operated with two RNs, but tonight a nurse, remaining after day shift, would keep her same patients and stay until eleven, working overtime to help them because today had been hectic and things were still in a mess. ..."
"...Penny approached the nurses’ area where Dr. Child stood with his back to the elevator, his patient’s chart resting open before him on the counter. He thrust the chart across the counter at Maria and complained, “You mean to tell me you’re infusing the second unit of blood now? What does ..."
"... TO KILL MY PATIENT?” Penny intervened, “I’m her nurse tonight. It looks like your order says to give two units of blood IV over four hours STAT. It was started almost four hours ago and the second unit is not quite finished. Do you want me to stop it?” “What does my order ..."
"...The day-shift nurse completed and signed off orders left from first shift, most of which had been done, but not signed off by an RN. In the medicine room Penny and Barb checked their patients’ MARs against the Kardexes, verified each other’s insulin dosages, and looked up anything they were not ..."
"...nurse says he only ordered one unit and you gave two. What’s the matter with you people?” Supervisor Crouch located the doctor’s order. “Oh I see. I believe we’re in the clear this time—hospital policy requires the word unit to be written out, not abbreviated, and ..."
"...On the other side of the fourth floor, the nurses were gathered behind a counter that defined their station. In the center of the area a circular desk held a revolving double-decker rack bearing the patients’ charts. Leroy Crouch sat down at the desk and a sniffling nurse in her sixties handed him a chart. ..."
"... asked. The nurse looked at Penny and pointed down the hallway. “Four-twenty. Everything’s in there.” Walking toward the room, Penny heard the nurse speak about another problem. “I’ve notified his doctor and called Security and his family, but we can’t get to him....” In 420, ..."
"... time.” “Not luck. That’s know-how. You can start all my IVs.” Penny thanked him, cleaned up her mess, and pushed the IV cart out into the hall where she was met by the man’s nurse, who had stopped crying. “What happened over here?” Penny asked her. “I’ll tell you, but ..."
"... Maria had left by the time the nurse from Fourth joined Penny and Barb in Oncology’s lounge, where she painted a vivid account of her horrible night in which everything had gone wrong. “...and then one of my patients, a depressed seventy-year-old man, jumped out of his window.” ..."
"...“Well, I’ll tell you what I think.” The nurse leaned forward, her chin resting in her hands. “He’s thin—he might have squeezed out, but I think he had help. He landed on the roof of Eye sometime after midnight, which makes it Friday-the-thirteenth, plus tonight’s a full moon—Spate’s on the prowl!” ..."
"... on the prowl!” Barb nodded. “Awesome.” But Penny frowned and stood up. Her patient’s call bell was ringing and she hurried off to answer. Barb returned to the desk, and the nurse from Fourth headed downstairs. “What is Eye?” Penny asked Barb when 4 a.m. vital ..."
"... connected either.” “Did you run?” “No, the patient was rolled in from ER, and it all stopped. I had to, like, pretend nothing had happened. The other nurses told me they believed Dr. Spate didn’t want activity in his building at night.” Penny, remembering Maureen’s story about ..."
"...Barb paused, looking down into her lap. She took a deep breath. “One night after I came to Oncology, Supervisor Crouch was helping us to initiate a new nurse, taking her on a scare tour of Eye, like we used to do. We had a routine: first we’d set her up—tell about the ghost, and two staff members would leave, like, say they were going for a smoke. That night, I was one of the smokers. ..."

Chapter 11: Chapter Eleven
"...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.” ..."
"...“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.” ..."
"...“Flossie Mae,” Mrs. Gwen added, “telemetry patients are cared for by South Station nurses, but Unit nurses are responsible for their monitors: replacing batteries, electrodes, and lead wires as needed to maintain a readable pattern on their screens. Call me if you need anything, Penny—I’m supervising today.” ..."
"... of homemade breakfast rolls for you and they do look good!” Penny propped open the door to South Hall, and Louise joined the nurses in their lounge to sample the sweet rolls while the patients visited with their families. “Louise works a second job too,” Penny told Flossie Mae. ..."
"... signs. Soon a nurse called back with a good report: normal vital signs and an alert patient without complaints of discomfort. The patient on telemetry number two was having a few irregular beats, as would be expected with an elevated digoxin level but not enough to set off an alarm. After ..."
"... of the Unit. As the two nurses ate their sandwiches in front of the monitors, Penny observed Flossie Mae’s hands: each finger, and even both thumbs adorned with rings. “Do you like Dr. Scales, Flossie Mae? He’s so difficult here—I can’t imagine working in his office.” “The ..."
"...Number four monitor alarm sounded again, and the strip of Mr. Tribble’s heart pattern showed a brief period of complete heart block. His heart rate had slowed to thirty, but now was back up to seventy-two. Penny notified the floor nurse to check his vital signs, and she telephoned Dr. Scales to describe the heart pattern. ..."
"... the morning.” A South Station nurse brought the telemetry she had removed from Mr. Tribble, who was now connected to a portable monitor for transfer, and laid the box on the desk because Penny was phoning Dr. Scales’s order to the Pharmacist: “Vitamin K, 2.5 mgs IV.” Penny replaced ..."
"... block?” The monitor she had just turned off—number three–-was labeled with the name Bridget Sasser, Room 301. She picked up the telemetry unit the nurse had brought in: number three. If number three had been Jerry Tribble, maybe number four was really Bridget Sasser. Panic-stricken ..."
"...Panic-stricken Penny phoned South Station and requested that a nurse go to room 301 and replace the battery in the monitor. She stood staring at screen number four, watching an irregular pattern with pauses, a disturbance that needed to be addressed. A minute later, the screen displayed a straight line and the alarm sounded while the battery ..."
"... a straight line and the alarm sounded while the battery was out, then the heart pattern picked up again and the phone rang. “Is that better?” the floor nurse asked. “Yes, thank you. What is the number on the telemetry box?” “Number four.” “And you’re in room 301 with Dr. ..."
"... four.” “And you’re in room 301 with Dr. Lawrence’s patient, Mrs. Sasser?” “Yes, why?” The nurse was impatient. Changing batteries was supposed to be the job of CCU nurses. “Thank you.” Enveloped in fear, Penny tried to speak casually, but she knew she must call ..."
"... is coming to send Bridget Sasser to Jacksonville for a pacer.” “You’re keeping me busy today!” the Director of nurses said. “Ask South’s secretary to copy it and I’ll be down there as soon as I can.” Presently, the pharmacist himself entered CCU and handed Penny a vial ..."
"... laughed. “How do you manage to stay cheerful with your life so restricted?” “It’s the only life I have.” His eyes were serious, then he smiled. “And I like to be waited on by pretty nurses.” Penny slowly injected the liquid vitamin into a port on his IV line, then flushed ..."
"...The code team had arrived. A nurse from ER pushed the crash cart toward the bed, and Penny grabbed the backboard from its slot on the cart. The respiratory tech and the ER nurse lifted the patient while Penny pushed the plastic board under him and positioned his head into the cupped-out headrest. Penny ..."
"...The respiratory tech squeezed the ambu bag with her left hand, and with her right thumb and forefinger held the mask in place by curling her other fingers under his chin. The ER nurse stood close to the bed with her shoulders over the man’s chest, her arms straight, the heel of her right hand pressed against the back of her left hand, fingers interlaced. She called out the cadence as she compressed the middle of his chest: “One two three four ..."

Chapter 12: Chapter Twelve
"...After giving Report on the CCU patient and two telemetry patients, Penny dismantled Mr. Aceworth’s chart. She taped the defibrillator print-outs in correct sequence onto a sheet, and completed the code form describing the occurrence and the measures taken. Night shift would close out the nurses’ notes after the funeral home picked up the body. She placed the medication sheet behind its divider and wrote over where she had earlier written IV as the route of administration for Vitamin K, so that it was now hard to tell whether it said IV or IM. ..."
"... to tell whether it said IV or IM. The night-shift nurse drank coffee and ate a stale breakfast roll, looking forward to an easy twelve hours spent reading her book. She didn’t even notice that Penny was covering her butt for the second time in one day. Turning her back on River Park ..."
"... the pain and I will realign the fields.” Penny had worked with mental patients and screwball MDs and weird families but nurses were usually pretty regular. She wondered if Flossie Mae was a nutcase–-the woman seemed completely serious. “There. Is the pain any different now, ..."
"... The door to the hall opened, and Mrs. Gwen entered the Unit. “Penny, there’s a drug overdose in ER and our paramedic is tied up with something else, so I need you to ride the ambulance to Jacksonville. I’ll stay with Flossie Mae until I can get a critical care nurse in here.” ..."
"... for ABGs. Maureen was right: they wouldn’t use Dixiana’s lab results. They were drawing their own drug screen. Penny gave Report and handed the patient’s papers to the receiving nurse. Relieved of her charge, she helped Bubba straighten up the back of the ambulance. One of ..."
"... Relieved of her charge, she helped Bubba straighten up the back of the ambulance. One of Jacksonville’s nurses yelled from the open ER doorway. “Y’all really oxygenated him! His level is 300.” Penny had never heard of an oxygen level that high. Normal was 90-100. “Don’t ..."
"... you’re working up here,” Bubba said. “Do you like it?” “It’s different from Dixiana, where we all know each other. I do like it, though. The nurses are nice, but nobody will tell me about Dr. Wiseman’s accident.” “I heard cervical fracture was her cause of death on the ..."

Chapter 13: Chapter Thirteen
"... Dr. Scales and Dr. Benson writing away, heaping on new orders that would have to be carried out. One of the day-shift nurses returned to the lounge. “Which of you has the new patient?” Barb raised her hand. “I’ve done her admission and started the IV for you, but I haven’t ..."
"...“I can’t do that—we’re not allowed to chart for each other,” Barb said, frowning as the exasperated nurse rushed out. With a helpless expression, Barb looked at Penny and shrugged. “I don’t know the places she stuck, and if I put in my access code, everything I enter is attributed to me.” ..."
"... and if I put in my access code, everything I enter is attributed to me.” The already-late-leaving worn-out nurse, who was just trying to help, barely controlled her anger as she hunkered down at one of the computers. Steering clear of the computer where Dr. Scales was working, Penny entered ..."
"... infected laceration, and then just help me take care of a stroke patient named Darlina.” “They told me you and Barb had it rough up here, and they were right.” The small, redheaded nurse giggled. “Anything you can do will be great,” Penny said. “The patient I need help with weighs ..."
"... blood pressure cuff to her patient’s arm as she had promised. It was 1 a.m. when Penny joined the other two nurses working at computers. She slid into a chair and leaned over to tell Barb, “I met the Colonel.” Barb grinned. “He told me the reason he got here so late tonight was ..."

Chapter 14: Chapter Fourteen
"... from their mother.” After the meal, and after returning Mrs. Nichols to her nurse, Penny and her father walked back to his room. He advanced the thermostat as they entered. “It’s always cold in here; I call the janitor every day but he can’t fix the heat.” Removing her jacket, ..."
"... you go, though, I want you to put more Vaseline on my back.” Penny supplied him with Tylenol from her purse. “When I’m not here, Daddy, don’t forget that you can push your buzzer and the nurse will bring what you need.” He hung his head. “They don’t like me.” While Penny ..."
"...Penny rolled her back to the hall outside the dining room where the staff was beginning to gather the residents for supper. The nurses laughed and teased each other while most of the patients looked out of touch with the situation, their heads lolling to the side, some rocking back and forth. A woman cried out, and Mrs. Nichols looked at Penny with an alarmed expression. ..."
"... now as wrinkled and spotted as her mother’s. Mrs. Nichols surveyed the hallway: the row of waiting patients and the nurses bustling back and forth. Slowly and reflectively she said, “They don’t know who we are or where we’ve been.” Hot tears Penny had been holding back spilled down ..."
"... spoke with difficulty. “I miss you, Mother.” Her mother answered evenly, “I miss you, too.” A nurse came for Mrs. Nichols and wheeled her to her place in the eating area. Before walking away, Penny locked in her mind the image before her: her mother sitting at the table in a ..."

Chapter 15: Chapter Fifteen
"...nurses had no job security; just last week the hospital had laid off twenty-four employees: newly-hired office and lab personnel and five nurses. Rumor had it that Administration planned to close the Psychiatric Unit and everyone was jumpy. Sweat prickled Penny’s skin as she sprinted up the stairs to look for the time clock, which had been moved. ..."
"...In the nurses’ lounge, Barb, already dressed in scrubs, bowed her head over the Kardex while a glow from the overhead florescent fixture highlighted blond streaks in her hair. Concentrating on her notes, she did not look up to welcome Penny. “I’m keeping the three I had last night, and ..."
"... with her left hand. “Use the other arm,” she said. “Have you had breast surgery, Miss Logan?” Penny consulted her notes from Report. The previous nurse hadn’t mentioned it and there was no sign over the patient’s bed. “No.” The woman offered no explanation. “The reason ..."
"...Two women awaited Penny when she returned to the hall. One of them was tall and turned from chastising a six-year-old grandson who had been running around the nurses’ station. “Are you Mrs. Posey’s nurse? My name is Zuna, and this is my twin sister, Zunetta. Our Mama’s hurting and we don’t want her to be in pain, but don’t give her too much pain medicine.” The woman spoke in a high, nasal ..."
"... had written Mrs. North’s weight, height, and vital signs. An IV had been started, and Penny checked the site into which a Decadron drip was infusing. It looked clear and the dressing was intact—some ER nurse had done a good job. Nancy North, sitting on the side of her bed, frowned at ..."
"... room sounded. “May I help you?” Maria said into the intercom. “Yes, honey, my nurse has gone to get me some pillows. If you will be so kind, I need more pitchers of ice. This one was left in here from before I came.” “I put that in there for you myself,” Maria said. “It’s ..."
"...“I put that in there for you myself,” Maria said. “It’s fresh as it can be!” When there was no reply from the room, Maria said, “Your nurse will be right back.” For once, Maria was frustrated. “I need to put her chart together before Dr. Hutton gets here and writes more orders! I haven’t processed the ones from ER yet, and with so much ruckus about overtime, I’ve got to clock out no ..."
"... North shook her head. “I need more ice before anything else.” “Penny will supply everything you need, Nancy,” Dr. Hutton said. “Hold out your finger like a good girl and let the nurse stick it.” “It’ll hurt!” Mrs. North’s demanding voice became a whimper, and her ..."
"... leaving a white spot. The cumulative total of 6 mgs of Valium had not phased Mrs. North at 2 a.m. when Penny returned to the room to stick her finger. The can of ethyl chloride spray was not at the nurses’ station, and Penny assumed she had left it at the bedside. “You took it with ..."
"... “Let’s check this out before you leave, Lela.” Miss Logan scratched her head with her left hand, then pointed a gray finger at Penny. “All right, but I don’t want her to be my nurse. I don’t want her in my room.” When they were back at the desk, Dr. Hutton asked, “Did ..."

Chapter 16: Chapter Sixteen
"... a chair, looking like a doll slung against a playhouse. “Sorry it took so long. I stopped off in ER.” “There must be a good-looking male nurse down there,” Penny teased. Barb nodded. “He wants me to transfer down and work ER—they have a job opening—-but I don’t belong ..."
"... down there,” Penny teased. Barb nodded. “He wants me to transfer down and work ER—they have a job opening—-but I don’t belong there, Penny...I don’t belong here! I’m a New England surgery nurse, you know? I was on the transplant team!” “You said you liked that kind ..."
"...“They go to nursery school on days when I sleep; I pick them up in the afternoon and do everything before I come here. It’s like all the man thinks about is finishing his thesis. I can’t raise my children, and that kind of stuff, down here, totally alone. ..."
"...Last night’s nurse poured a cup of coffee, added sugar, and joined Penny, stirring while she talked. “Jason Stephens’s nickname is Squeaky. There’s been a parade of visitors to see him all week: lots and lots of people. He’s a No Code. Liver and kidneys are shut down ..."
"... today?” Penny hoped so because she had never removed an eyeball. The retreating nurse took a deep drink of coffee and shook her head. “I don’t think anybody’s done it since he’s been here. We don’t do eyeballs.” Penny decided to give her patient a bath right away since there ..."
"... from the ER and I’ll need help.” “I don’t have anybody to send you,” the weekend supervisor said. She was someone Penny didn’t know, probably one of the rent-a-nurses the hospital had been using to keep from hiring permanent staff. “Is it all right for me to get help if I ..."
"... knows Number One.” He looked at the floor, shaking his head. “Not no more.” Penny called all the nurses on the CCU staff. Most of them didn’t answer, and the ones she reached had their excuses ready. Before long, an ER nurse pushed a stretcher through the doorway, then paused to ..."
"... them didn’t answer, and the ones she reached had their excuses ready. Before long, an ER nurse pushed a stretcher through the doorway, then paused to close the door while Mr. Head looked around with frightened eyes. “We’re going to help you,” Penny told him. “First, we’ll move ..."
"...On the count of three, Mr. Head yelled as the two nurses slid him, sheets, pads and all, onto one of the Unit beds. A putrid, pungent odor permeated the air and the patient started a continuous chant. “Hey hum, Hey hum, Hey hum.” He inhaled and said the words on exhalation, with emphasis on “Hey.” ..."
"... his pubic hair. “Dr. Ghent said this man’s ninety-year-old sister devoted her life to taking care of him,” the ER nurse told Penny. “She’s driving her car to the hospital and should arrive any time now. I hate to leave you like this, but I’ve got to get back.” Penny said, ..."
"... Penny and grabbed the gown as she tried to snap it over his arms. The ER nurse nodded and Penny fetched a catheter kit from the supply closet, then called South Station and asked for someone to come help them for a few minutes. Penny’s helpers held Mr. Head’s arms and legs, and he yelled ..."
"... He shouted “Hum DAMN! Hum DAMN! Hum DAMN!” with his emphasis on “DAMN.” “You need help,” the ER nurse said. “I’ll find the list of nurses who will work as needed and try to get somebody for you.” “Thanks.... If you find a phone number for Flossie Mae Fox, try her; she ..."
"... dripped off the sides of the bed onto the carpet as Flossie Mae entered the Unit. “Oh Honey! That nurse wasn’t just whistling Dixie!” Flossie Mae covered her nose with one hand and surveyed the mess. “Flossie Mae, meet Richard Head.” Penny spread her arms in a gesture of ..."
"... the needle, applied pressure and a band-aid, and departed without a word to either of them. The nurses released Mr. Head’s arms and he resumed his original chant. “Hey hum, hey hum, hey hum.” Flossie Mae walked to the back of the Unit and stood in front of a window, her back straight ..."

Chapter 17: Chapter Seventeen
"... in the car, and seeped into her bones. Entering the hospital and walking through the halls toward CCU, every nurse who passed appeared happier than she felt. She experienced a twinge in her right ankle and imagined falling down hard from a bad sprain. But the Unit was warm and comfortable, ..."
"... in her right ankle and imagined falling down hard from a bad sprain. But the Unit was warm and comfortable, like settling into a favorite chair. The night nurse looked up from a magazine as Penny unbuttoned her coat. “When did Mr. Stephens die?” Penny pointed to the amputee’s ..."
"...The sleepy nurse yawned. “When I turned him to his left side at four, he quit breathing—today should be a picnic for you. There’s only one on telemetry, and Mr. Head’s waiting for Gabriel. You might have trouble with his sister, though: she looks like she might go hysterical ..."
"... face was withered and pale as she whispered, “My head’s a roarin’.” “Maybe she just stood up too fast,” said Rebecca Daniels, a South Station nurse, who rushed to help. They lifted Jane into a wheelchair and as Rebecca bent to release the brake, Jane grabbed ..."
"... me back to the TV now,” Jane said. “I’m finished breakfast.” Penny phoned South Station. “Please have somebody come roll Miss Head out to the waiting room. I’m the only nurse in here, and I can’t leave.” In a few minutes, Rebecca Daniels popped through the door. “I’ll ..."
"...Penny’s reading was interrupted when a heavily-made-up woman wearing a nurse’s cap, a crisp white uniform, and a badge that proclaimed SUPERVISOR, entered the Unit and settled down at the desk. “I’ll watch the monitor for you,” she said. “Go to room 327 and restart that IV. Dr. Scales ordered Lasix, followed by 500 mls of normal ..."
"... short of breath herself. “Mrs. Pewitt, that’s why I’m the doctor. Trust me! You’ve probably never heard of third spacing...I don’t tell you how to nurse, and I would appreciate it if you don’t tell me how to doctor.” He slammed down his receiver. “I’m calling Mrs. ..."
"... vacated chair. The supervisor was reading a magazine when Penny returned to CCU. Worried that the woman would resent being by-passed in the chain of command, Penny said, “I called our Director of nurses. Mrs. Baucum is going to die if we don’t do something.” “All right. Thanks ..."
"... voice was edged with tension but held steady. After a foreboding pause, Dr. Scales snarled, “Mrs. Pewitt, you may order blood gasses. However, I do not appreciate pushy nurses—I am the doctor, and when I want something I will order it.” “Thank you, Doctor.” Penny broke the ..."
"...The supervisor left to write Scales’s orders on the chart at South Station. Penny turned down the bed closest to the hall door and warmed up the over-bed monitor. Unable to sit down, she straightened the desk and the nurses’ lounge, then began to scribble an account of the progression of events leading up to Mrs. Baucom’s admission to the Unit. ..."
"... a beat. She had never once thought about the woman’s relatives! Dr. Scales turned away from Penny to join the night shift nurse at the desk, explaining to her what he wanted done. It was time for Penny to clock out. When she reached home, Penny found that Johnny had prepared a supper ..."

Chapter 18: Chapter Eighteen
"...Returning with coffee from the nurses’ lounge, Penny asked, “Is there anything else you want me to grab before I put on the reverse isolation garb? Would you like another blanket? And please don’t say ‘whatever you think.’ Why do patients say that? I’m no mind reader; I can’t imagine a ..."
"... Looking into her friend’s sunken eyes, Penny could see that cancer had taken its toll. She laid her gloved hand over Maureen’s, interlocking their fingers. “I’ve had friendships with other nurses, but you and I are like sisters, and we don’t leave each other.” They ..."
"... away the tears rolling down her own cheeks. Seven days of chemo had left Penny’s third patient with uncontrollable diarrhea. His day-shift nurse described him in Report as, “A modest forty-two-year-old who wants his door kept closed.” He had answered Penny’s questions and accepted ..."
"... minutes.” When Maureen’s transfusions were completed, Penny medicated her for sleep and pain and returned to the nurses station. After catching up on charting, she tried to read her E-mails, struggling to stay awake. Most of the notices seemed unimportant until she read: Effective ..."
"... best thing I’ve ever done.” When Barb returned, Penny ran down to the zoo-like atmosphere of the ER. On one side of the long room, a nurse bent over a man lying on a stretcher. He was connected to a heart monitor and a crash cart stood open beside him. “Baby! Baby!” he bellowed. ..."
"... cart stood open beside him. “Baby! Baby!” he bellowed. “Oh OW—Oh Baby, you’re going to have to hit me again, Baby.” Penny watched his nurse raise her fist and deliver a cardiac thump to his mid-sternum. “OOOH, thank you, Baby,” the man groaned. From another stretcher, a ..."
"... never get well though, darlin’.” A flustered-looking nurse searching for Flossie Mae peered into the room, and Penny stood up. “I’d better get back upstairs. Thanks for your hospitality offer, Flossie Mae. I may take you up on it.” When Penny returned to the Oncology Unit, ..."
"... I’m sorry you have to do this by yourself.” “Oh I’m all right: sad, but...I want to do what you all want me to do. The nurse said Mom’s not getting enough oxygen the way she’s breathing. Should I let them give it to her?” “Does she seem uncomfortable?” “No. She takes ..."

Chapter 19: Chapter Nineteen
"...Christmas wreaths decorated every door in Jacksonville Oncology, and a tree adorned with white angels stood in the hall near the nurses’ station. The tree’s electric cord was plugged into a socket inside Maureen’s door and its multicolor lights shined into her room. First-place prize in the inter-departmental decorating contest would be dinner at Shoney’s for the entire winning department’s staff, and the Oncology nurses aimed to win. ..."
"... for the entire winning department’s staff, and the Oncology nurses aimed to win. Barb was off tonight, and Penny flipped through the Kardex while Janet, one of the other night nurses, put on a scrub uniform. “Now Penny,” Janet said, “Barb told me that you would want to take care of ..."
"...Maureen’s veins were in such bad shape that a single subclavian was her only IV access and, unless they were compatible, only one solution could be infused at a time. The day-shift nurse reported that after infusing two units of blood, she had started Maureen on a combination of Benadryl, Ativan, and Decadron, a BAD drip, used to relieve nausea, anxiety, and pain. ..."
"... She stepped out of the path of a preacher, dressed in clerical garb with a big gold cross, headed into the room. “I’m glad you’re Mama’s nurse tonight, Penny,” Milton said. “I’m glad you’re here, too.” Penny turned to smile at the minister, and he cleared his throat. His ..."
"... his Bible, drawing out each word and over-pronouncing every syllable. In the nurses’ lounge, she microwaved a Swanson chicken pot pie and joined Janet at the table, but as she took a second bite, Milton appeared at the door. “Mama’s twitching,” he said. Penny hustled back to the room. ..."
"... go home,” Penny said, resting her head on the table. “Penny.” Leroy Crouch stood beside her with a wheelchair. “You’re through for the night. CCU’s not busy, and I’ve pulled a nurse to finish out your shift.” “Thank you,” Penny said, her mind functioning again. ..."

Chapter 20: Chapter Twenty
"... their inventory. In the afternoon, she was reading a paperback Mr. Garrett had given her: a spy thriller by Compton MacKenzie, when the phone rang. “We’re transferring Mr. Buck Dalton to your Unit, and I’ve got Report for you,” a Jacksonville CCU nurse said. “Okay.” Penny ..."
"... IV morphine in 2 mg increments until he relaxed. When the two night-shift nurses sat down with Penny in the break room for Report, one of them asked, “Did they leave you in here by yourself all day with a ventilator patient?” “He didn’t get here until this afternoon and ..."
"...“He didn’t get here until this afternoon and Respiratory set up the ventilator,” Penny said. “Buck’s had surgery to drain blood clots from his brain and to repair hip, arm, and leg fractures. He’s been on a ventilator because of rib fractures and pneumonia, but the Jacksonville nurse said he’s ready to be weaned. I guess they’ll start taking him off tomorrow.... ..."
"...stopped talking and listened, thinking she had heard a noise. She sprinted to the back of the Unit, but no one was there, and Buck appeared asleep. She inhaled and her heart rate slowed as she returned to the lounge. CCU air smelled sweeter when fresh nurses were present to take over the responsibility. ..."
"... air smelled sweeter when fresh nurses were present to take over the responsibility. “What about Buck’s wife and his baby?” one of the nurses asked. “His trailer’s still out in the parking lot.” Suddenly the monitor alarm sounded. Then the ventilator alarm blared. All three ..."
"...Suddenly the monitor alarm sounded. Then the ventilator alarm blared. All three nurses dashed to Buck’s bedside. His screen displayed a straight line. Penny pressed the electrodes against his chest, but they were already in contact. His face was pale grey, and she could not locate his carotid pulse. ..."
"... was pale grey, and she could not locate his carotid pulse. Penny ran for the crash cart. “Call a code! He’s a full code,” she yelled. One of the nurses disconnected the ET tube from the ventilator and began to bag Buck. They had defibrillated three times without success, and were ..."
"... One of the night nurses charged the defibrillator. “All clear.” She shocked at 350 joules and they watched the upward blip of the shock settle down to a straight line...then one heart complex popped up, and another, and another. Slowly, they picked up speed and become regular beats. ..."
"...Penny awakened with a jolt at 2 a.m. Her thoughts fuzzy, she thought she was in the nurses’ lounge of CCU. She heard the familiar sound of the outside door closing and sat up. In the excitement of Buck’s code, she had forgotten that she had heard something before the alarms started. Somebody went out that door—that was the sound she heard! Whoever ..."
"... for worrying about Buck. How’s he doing?” “Buck didn’t make it,” the night nurse told her. “He coded again—I’m not sure how many times we shocked him: the ER doc wouldn’t give up, but Dr. Scales came and told us to quit.” Penny was speechless. “Oh, and Penny,” the ..."
"... came and told us to quit.” Penny was speechless. “Oh, and Penny,” the nurse said, “when the Jacksonville nurse gave you Report, did she mention that Buck had a police guard on him the first two weeks he was in their CCU?” Her words hit Penny like a lightning bolt, recharging ..."
"...“Well, see, I called Jacksonville CCU, to tell them what happened to their patient, and the nurse said she didn’t know if they were guarding Buck to protect him or because he’d done something bad, but everybody missed his guards bringing them doughnuts and pizza. She said that as far as she knew, no visitors came to see Buck the whole time they had him. ..."

Chapter 21: Chapter Twenty-One
"... she turned into the employees’ parking lot. Coming into the bright, bustling emergency room was like entering another country. Penny asked a familiar-looking nurse for Flossie Mae’s phone number, and the woman consulted the staff Rolodex. “Her number is unlisted, and she asked us not ..."
"... rooms. “Dig in and help us,” Maria said. “We’re up to our eyeballs.” “If you take the new patient and do the admission, it would really help,” pleaded one of the day-shift nurses. “They’ve put her in 406,” Maria said as Penny emerged from the staff lounge ..."
"... copy of the patient’s orders. “I weighed her, but that’s all.” The man in the blue suit approached the nurses’ station. “My son’s expecting a fax. Make sure you take it in to him as soon as you get it.” “Who was that?” Penny asked, watching the elevator door close ..."
"...Setser, completely naked, sat in the center of her bed beside a wadded-up hospital gown, and her brown-eyed gaze was so direct that Penny could almost feel it on her skin. Closing the door, she shook out the gown. “My name is Penny, and I’ll be your nurse tonight. May I help you put this on?” ..."
"...Finally finished, Penny hurried into the staff room where one remaining day-shift nurse waited to give her Report. “In addition to the new patient, you’ve got John Brown and Watt Weeks. Mr. Brown is here incognito for a rest because his father’s on our board of trustees, but Watt is seriously sick. He’s dehydrated and anemic; he should be ..."
"... after work.” “Okay.” Penny replaced the receiver and answered the call light from 406. “May I help you?” “Tell the nurse my body rejects food at sundown.” Sunny had vomited a surprisingly-large amount of undigested food, and Maria assisted Penny with the clean up. “I’ll ..."
"... mouthed the words, “No, he didn’t.” Toward morning the nurses were working at computers when Barb looked over from checking her labs. “I want to tell you before you hear this from anybody else, Penny—I’m turning in my notice.” Penny gasped. “How can you quit? I thought ..."
"...everything, and that’s when I told him I couldn’t live here anymore. And it was he expected it, right? He agreed! No problem. He said if I could get a job back home, he’d come with me. So, I start as a scrub nurse in two weeks.” ..."
"... rang and Penny jumped up to answer it. “May I help you?” “I’m ready for coffee and send my nurse in here to find my contact lens. I dropped it in this damn bed.” It was the deep, resonant voice of the weatherman. Penny loaded a fresh pot of coffee and started toward Dr. ..."

"... Tomorrow would be Monday and Penny would have the night off before returning to Jacksonville on Tuesday for her regular three-night stretch. She wondered who would take Barb’s place, whether the new nurse would be easy to work with, and whether they would become friends. The next ..."

"...Penny poured coffee and cereal, flopped into her chair at the table, and folded the newspaper beside her bowl. She reread the article from start to finish. Why hadn’t she known about it? Why hadn’t the nurses just quit their jobs and gone to work at another hospital? She stared at her Grape-nuts as if the answers were contained within the bowl. ..."
"... as if the answers were contained within the bowl. An image came into Penny’s mind: she was falling, crashing. “Stop,” she told herself. “I’m okay. I have a good job. Maybe those nurses couldn’t find other jobs.” Refocusing her gaze on the paper, Penny buried herself ..."
"... not replaced. Having turned in her two-week notice of resignation, Penny was scheduled to work only one more weekend at River Park Hospital. She knew nurses who had quit without working out their notices; she had even filled in for some of them. She could call in sick! Putting off a ..."
"...When Penny got to Jacksonville Medical Center, so many things had happened that it seemed as though she had been away for longer than four days. A nurse who worked on Fourth had been severely injured when she wrecked her car speeding to the hospital. She told the EMTs that she had been late twice and was afraid she would be fired if she was late a third time. ..."
"...Carina was built like a fireplug with a small head and brown hair. She filled a chair in the nurses’ lounge, smiling and nodding as Barb showed off the gifts Prader Philpot had brought her: a bright orange hair dryer still bearing its two-dollar price tag from a yard sale, and a pair of clip-on rhinestone earrings that any stripper would covet. When Carina laughed she opened her ..."
"...“We’ve depleted all his insurance days and Utilization Review is pushing Dr. Hutton to send him to an extended-care facility or home with hospice nurses. We’ve pumped him totally full of blood and antibiotics, but the man’s still got pneumonia and stuff, and Prader’s determined to keep him in our hospital.” ..."
"... on her own. On Wednesday morning, day-shift nurses awaited Report while Penny, Barb, and Carina huddled at the desk, trying to calculate their patients’ IV fluid intakes. The new pumps had not been cleared at the end of day shift, and they couldn’t figure out how to clear them. “I know ..."
"... “I know what, y’all,” Carina said. Her brown eyes were big ovals surrounded by thick lashes. “Let’s divide each total in half and claim that. Today’s nurses can get somebody to show them how to clear these little gismos, and we’ll get them to teach us when we come back tonight.” ..."
"...Wednesday and Thursday nights were equally turbulent, and when Penny woke Friday afternoon, after sleeping most of the day, she extricated herself from her warm bed to shop for such necessities as soap and toilet paper at Kmart. Other nurse friends complained about being unable to sleep in the daytime, but Penny’s problem was the opposite: too tired to wake up. Her mission accomplished, she refilled her gas tank at Sack and Pack and purchased barbeque and slaw sandwiches. ..."
"...hell.’ He took off his shirt to show us, and he had drawn red and black magic-marker wounds on his chest and his abdomen and both of his arms. We loaded him into a wheel chair, and Barb took him down to ER. She said the nurses counted ninety-two ‘bullet holes.’ Barb came back when they admitted him to Third with Ethanol Intoxication.” ..."
"... touched it. “Penny, this is Peter Puckett. I see you’re working tomorrow, and I need a weekend supervisor. The nurses tell me you don’t like to do it, but I told ‘em we’re friends and I know you’ll come through and put out the fires for me just this one weekend.” A sense of ..."
"... one weekend.” A sense of something unusual swept over Penny. What in the world was going on? Why would the Hospital Administrator staff the hospital instead of the Director of nurses? “Please ask someone else, Mr. Puckett. I haven’t done that job in a long time.” “There isn’t ..."
"... Mr. Puckett. I haven’t done that job in a long time.” “There isn’t anyone I can ask,” he said, “and the agency we’ve been using has booked all its nurses. I know it’s a big favor, and I’ll make it worth your while.” Penny hesitated, remembering the times she and Johnny ..."
"...Joan Hargrove, an agency nurse acting as evening supervisor, handed Penny the keys to Pharmacy and Central Supply and gave her a list of PRN nurses who might fill in if someone called out sick. With a voice of authority, Joan read names on the hospital’s census, clicking her ballpoint pen as she ..."
"...Penny marveled at the woman’s courage in working for an agency: driving to strange hospitals and being held accountable for the actions of nurses she didn’t even know! An earthquake, a ­hurricane, and a tornado—all hitting the hospital at the same time—probably wouldn’t bother Joan at all. ..."
"... frequently-used items and showed Penny how to charge them out, then they entered the pharmacy. “Mr. Puckett said one of the ER nurses will help you, but we have time for a quick orientation.” The weekend pharmacy tech, already at work, pointed out the alphabetical arrangement of medicines ..."
"...On her way home on Saturday night, Penny reviewed the events of her day. Only one nurse called out for night shift, and a nurse on duty suggested someone who wanted overtime who agreed to come in and work. There were a few tense hours in ER when a grey, perspiring man was brought in after he was stung by a bee on his left ..."
"...The two nurses walked toward 104, and Penny heard labored breathing before they reached the room. The mother looked to the nurses for help and moved away from her daughter. Penny clicked on both the room light and the over-bed light and turned the girl from her side to her ..."
"...Turning up the thermostat, she placed a folded blanket on the heater vent that jutted out under the windowsill, and left Joan to comfort the child’s mother. Penny strode back to the North Station believing that she could convince Dr. Scales to come. Telling Anna, the floor nurse in charge of room 104, that she was going to call the doctor, Penny wrote out the words she would use. She would state the facts, show him the urgency of the situation in a professional way and he would have to come. ..."
"...a mon-go-loid.” He over pronounced the word as though it explained everything. “Prop her up and observe her. I’ve already ordered Valium for the muscle spasms, and I’m coming to make rounds in a little while.” His tone deteriorated from condescending to irritated. “You nurses have kept me up all night!” He slammed his phone down. ..."
"... the Valium injection,” Joan said, “but then I’m done.” Penny called floor-nurse Anna to help change the child, but the exertion of turning side to side renewed her respiratory distress and Penny sent Anna to find Mr. Hall. The respiratory therapist pulled Penny out of the room. “We ..."
"... well. “Call Dr. Scales back,” the doctor said. “He may have a problem with a nurse telling him what to do. If you can’t get him to come, I’ll call him, but he’ll be angry. Let me know in a few minutes if you don’t get anywhere, because I’m going to church shortly.” Penny ..."
"... at her and led the way to 104. Dr. Scales ordered insulin, Lasix, and phenobarbital. He explained to Mrs. Honeycutt how incompetent some nurses could be and what a great doctor he was. She agreed that Loretta was lucky to be under his skilled care. Penny began her rounds on North ..."
"... the same on South Station, but the overhead speaker paged her to call ER. “We have incoming traffic,” the nurse who had helped Penny find drugs in Pharmacy told her. “The EMT says they’re bringing us two DFOs.” Penny searched her brain as she sauntered to Emergency. She knew UFO but ..."
"... She knew UFO but had no idea what DFO stood for. The nurse in ER laughed. “Done Fell Out is our term for emotionally worked up church victims. We probably don’t need a room. I just thought you’d want to know what’s going on back here.” The on-call ER physician was reading a magazine ..."
"... but I just met Dr. Scales in the hall and he threatened me.” “You’ll never convince Samuel Scales he’s mistaken, Penny. I think it would be good for you to let other nurses take his patients until he gets over being mad.” “I won’t be here, Mr. Puckett. I’m working out my ..."

"... his passenger door. “Get in here,” he said. “I can’t let you get wet and sick, I may need nursing myself, sometime.” “I’ll nurse you anytime, Tony.” “Do you ever hear from Barb?” he asked, stopping to let her out at the covered walkway. “No, I miss her...and I miss your ..."
"... miss your visits, too.” Penny entered a party-like atmosphere in Oncology. The nurses were laughing over a joke someone had downloaded from America Online, and Maria handed Penny a copy. “I hope nobody gets fired over this, but it’s too good not to share!” MEMO ON COST CUTTING TO: ..."
"... from her second stroke. Penny’s patient, Nealy Logan, had a systemic infection and was to receive a four-hour antibiotic, but his IV had infiltrated. The day-shift nurse told them that she had been waiting to restart it until Pharmacy sent the medicine. Maria stuck her head into the ..."
"... to page them to get anybody at night. I’ll try and get you some decent bottoms.” After day-shift left, Maria told Penny, “The antibiotic has been here for two hours; that nurse is just plain lazy.” “It’s all right,” Penny said. “I’m not busy tonight.” She collected an IV ..."
"... room was funereal. “You’ve got it made in the shade,” the forty-three-year-old man grinned. “Do you think we should throw a party? My name is Penny and I’ll be your nurse tonight.” “Then, let’s spend the night together.” He extended his right hand to shake Penny’s. She ..."
"... can finish by midnight.” Maria knocked on the door. “I’ll take his vitals. Supervisor wants you on the phone.” Penny picked up the receiver at the nurses’ desk. “Hi Penny, it’s Leroy Crouch. I need to pull Maria to Third because their unit secretary had to go home for a family ..."
"... in the waist with safety pins. The ER nurse who had rolled Flossie Mae into 408 was at the elevator waiting to go down when Penny reached her and asked, “Why didn’t anybody call Report up here? What labs were drawn, and what drugs have you given her?” “I’m sorry,” the nurse said. ..."
"... here? What labs were drawn, and what drugs have you given her?” “I’m sorry,” the nurse said. “It’s crazy down there. They asked me to bring her up, but I don’t know anything. I’ll have somebody call you.” The elevator opened and Kerri smiled at them from behind a laundry ..."
"... voice is back!” Penny said. “It sounds like she might need a three-H.” “What is that?” “High, hot, and a-hell-of-a-lot. A nurse friend taught me that,” Penny said. Mr. Logan was asleep when Penny looked in on him at 2 a.m. She entered the room next door to check ..."
"... that before.” Penny grinned and held up a long, bony, index finger. “Impactions used to be my speciality; my nurse friend nicknamed me ‘fingers’. Let’s call downstairs, we need an order to check for an impaction, but maybe they can think of something better to do.” “We’re not ..."
"... to check for an impaction, but maybe they can think of something better to do.” “We’re not so busy now, the ER nurse said. “I’ll send a tech up to get that patient. Do you still have Flossie Mae?” “Yes, she’s asleep, but I’ll ask her to call you in the morning if you ..."

Chapter 26: Chapter Twenty-Six
"... cup, adding two packets of sugar and stirring the hot coffee with his index finger. Joyce, one of the day-shift nurses, entered the room to give Report. “How’s life treating you, Prader?” “Real bad,” Prader said. “Last night I got in a fight with my best friend and he ..."
"...“Naw, I didn’t go down there. You nurses are the ones that know stuff. Don’t worry about me; I’ll be all right.” Reaching into his bag, he withdrew a guest register book. “This here’s from Watt’s funeral.” Opening the book, he pointed out the signatures of people who had attended the service and ..."
"... Memorial Funeral Home, so now I’m half-owner,” he said. Maria called Security on the desk phone while the other two day-shift nurses drifted into the staff room, bringing the total to five nurses gathered around Prader. He perked up for his audience. “I’m studyin’ to make a ..."
"... does is A-okay by me ‘cause he’s The Bud!” As the elevator door closed, Carina exploded in laughter and Report was further delayed because every nurse had a favorite Prader story to tell their newest and most appreciative staff member. Eventually, Penny entered Mr. Logan’s room and ..."
"...In room 408, a seventy-three-year-old lady wearing blue eye shadow and startling, brown lipstick was filing her ruby-red fingernails. Penny entered the room to assess her before donning the protective attire she would wear to administer chemotherapy. “Hi, Mrs. Sharp. I’m your nurse, Penny. We’re going to spend the night together.” ..."
"... against chemical splashes. Penny searched the drawers of the cart, but the green masks were the only ones provided. She knew their purpose was to safeguard nurses who didn’t wear glasses, but she would have to wear her glasses inside the shield in order to see. When half of the first chemo ..."
"...It was after four when Supervisor Ruth Robertson returned, bringing with her a nurse from Four Main. Ruth patted Penny’s shoulder. The police are ready for you two in the conference room on first floor, and we’ll watch your patients while you’re gone. Is there anything you need to tell us about any of them?” ..."

"...Taking the keys out of her purse, Penny opened her trunk. There was her spare, all pumped up, but she knew from other nurses’ experiences that Security would not change tires. She would have to walk back into the hospital and call AAA to come help her. While she waited for them, she would carry the snake into the woods. ..."

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