Tag Archives: NYC

Hurry Up and Wait

“Hurry up and wait!!” Those were the words of my esteemed disaster response director when I worked for the Red Cross. Hurricane Sandy, we’re hurrying up and waiting.

We tried to be smart and prepare early, starting on Saturday. We didn’t prepare as well as we thought, because by Sunday, we were back out again buying supplies. We kind of missed the boat on that one. We hit seven ATMs before we were finally able to get some cash since the machines were out of money. The supermarket was out of bread, water and milk. Gas stations ran out of gas and Home Depot was bare of hurricane supplies like drains, lanterns, batteries and flashlights; though that wasn’t a huge surprise. 

Before 3pm ET, we got the call that work in New York City was shut down and the transit system, including the subway, PATH, MTA, and NJ Transit were closing until further notice. Wall Street would not be trading, the first time its closed since September 11, 2001. And we just got word that the Holland Tunnel is also closing this afternoon. 

For the last two and half days, we have done our best to secure the house and our belongings. The outdoor furniture was taken inside and the cars were moved into the garage. We sealed the basement to prevent flooding, brought up all our personal items and stacked the washer and dryer on cinder blocks.  We cleared all the leaves from gutters nearly three times and stored away the fire wood to make a fire when we lose power. The flashlights have all been tested, the candles are ready to burn and the food and water are stored. We’ve done everything we can to prepare for Sandy. 

I have lived in Jersey my whole life and have never seen anything like this. When a snow storm is on its way, of course, the shelves are bare of food and supplies, but that is what we have come to expect. People get nervous and you work to prepare.  We laugh about it, saying it’s just a storm, not the end of the world. But this preparation is one that I have yet to experience. Even working in the disaster field, where you see this kind of response more frequently, didn’t prepare me for when it would happen in my own town. 

So now what? As our trusted disaster response director Bill used to say, “We hurry up and wait,” for the worst, knowing we prepared as best we could for an impending disaster. Stay safe and heed the warnings my friends. 

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Men and Their (Lack of) Summer Work Clothes

With the raging heat upon us, I am trying to choose my outfits accordingly. My office is chilly, yet it’s nearly 100 degrees outside. Thankfully, I have a myriad of options. My husband on the other hand, along with so many men I pass in the streets of New York City, don’t have the same advantage.

While I sometimes envy men and their wardrobes because they’re simple and less complicated, my heart breaks for guys on a day like today (and will again tomorrow), when I think of the few options they have to wear to work on a hot summer day.

Imagine having to wear jeans or pants in this heat? How about a long sleeved, collared shirt? Or a suit no less? Most guys can’t go to work in flip flops or shorts, whereas girls can mix and match, making something out of nothing (and still look cute and presentable).

So while the heat bears down on us, and the sticky humidity ruins our hair, I have to give a shout out to all the men out there who are walking to work, commuting on buses, trains and subways, and withstanding this heat with far less options for comfort. Here’s to you boys!

Don’t Take Your Emergency to the ER

I always thought the point of a hospital, its emergency room and those who work in it were there to help people. However, after a recent trip to the ER, I believe I was seriously misinformed.

At 8 p.m. on a Tuesday night, my husband was rushed to the emergency room with a dislocated shoulder. Running to be by his side, I was not greeted by the security guard, as he was too busy joking around with his colleague about the drunken woman babbling on about her shopping cart.  When he finally did help me, he failed to tell me where I could find my husband.

I walked through the halls and found my injured partner. He was propped up in a bed with a sling, and in a lot of pain. He had a nice nurse helping him who seemed to be giving him the attention he needed in a timely manner. She even had a back-up nurse who introduced himself should my husband need additional services.

Before I even sat down in curtain 16, an administrator came with her computer-on-a-cart to get our insurance information. That’s fine, I knew I wasn’t going anywhere anytime soon, but seriously, let me sit for a minute and see how my husband is feeling before you’re up my ass to see if and how I can pay for this shit.

Shortly thereafter, two doctors came around and explained the procedure they’d be taking – some pain meds, X-rays and a pop back into the socket.  Wow, maybe this wouldn’t be as long as we anticipated. Everyone was so helpful and attentive to my husband’s condition. It was really very refreshing. And then the shit hit the fan.

The second nurse came back and told us someone would be down “in a second” to take my husband to X-ray. In the meantime, he was given some pain medication to hold him over before the morphine started. A half hour later, after we had to have our original nurse paged, someone finally came.

I sat and read my magazine, catching up on the latest developments in the Natalee Holloway/Stephany Flores/Joran van der Sloot case, and before I knew it, an hour had gone by. Where was injured shoulder boy? I peered around the curtains, walked around the ER, he was nowhere to be found. I figured the doctors decided to go over his scans with him right there. Wrong!

Finally, as they rolled him back, he tells me how he waited in the X-ray hallway for like 45 minutes. His pain medicine had worn off and they shifted him in ways that put him in more pain than he originally was. No one looked at his X-rays, no one was waiting to give him the morphine, he was just left in a hallway while X-ray techs took personal phone calls.

Another hour or so went by and no one came back to curtain 16. Not the nice nurse, not her back-up guy, not the doctor, no one. The pain was getting worse and I was getting pissed. I saw all these doctors and nurses just sitting in this admin area talking, eating, playing on their phones, so I asked for help.

I was blatantly ignored. Someone picked up a phone, someone else walked away, another was ferociously typing away on their Blackberry. Seriously, come on dude, help a girl out here. Finally, after the finger tapping irritated them as much as it did me, and a woman asked what I needed. Well, geez, let’s see….

I didn’t need anything, but my husband, he needs some pain maintenance. We need a doctor. Oh, and the 90-year-old woman screaming, “Help me, can someone help me?” in curtain 14, she obviously needs something too. Can you help her out?

Apparently they couldn’t….and they wouldn’t. We were on the “Green Team” and these blokes were on the “Red Team.”  Translation: they couldn’t do a damn thing because they each work on different patients. I understood that, but if you have seven people who have the ability to help patients and zero who are actually around to do anything, isn’t there something wrong with your strategy?

All the Red Team did was page someone, but no one came, as they were attending to a critical patient. That was completely understandable – my husband was not an emergent patient, but did need care. Someone could have readjusted his arm, provided him a pillow, done something to show bedside manner still existed.

Finally, the original nurse showed up. She was kind and apologetic, yet baffled that no one else, like the floater nurse, had assisted, much less returned during that time. We told her our plight and she looked at us, sympathetically, like she’d heard this before.

Six hours later, armed with a sling and a prescription, we were on our way home. Of course, the hospital made sure we paid our co-pay upon our departure and surely, had provided enough staff to help us in this effort.

I’ve never had a great experience in an emergency room. I don’t know many people who have. I expect to wait, I expect to be ignored, and I expect to be asked for money and proof of insurance as soon as I set foot in the door. What is unacceptable to me is dozens of workers sitting on their asses while people cry out in pain or request help. There’s gotta be a better, more efficient process, even if you just  hide these people from the patients!