2014-04-25 / Letters

Baxter Goes To St. John’s

Dear Editor:

Here is my experience at St. John’s Hospital over a five day stay. I was watching TV on Saturday night and about 9:30 I felt a pain in my side. Thinking little of it I figured it would go away but as the night turned into morning it was advancing rapidly into an excoriating pain which by now had twined around my back.

At 1:30 a.m. I slithered down the stairs, out the door and into my car and started for St. John’s. Only a fool would have done such a thing. On the way down I was reminded of my foolish adventure. Every time I hit a pot hole I would put a longshoreman to shame with my cursing and since the entire length was one long pot hole you can imagine.

I thought my eyes were going to jump out of my head as soon as I crashed. I finally got to emergency and into the waiting room. Ah, at last, help is on the way. Barely able to reach for my ID in my wallet I complained that I was going to pass out.

“There are a lot of people ahead of you.” I was told. “Take a seat and wait till you’re called.” I could only stand and try to walk around and finally after threatening them with a corpse on their hands they let me inside. I looked around and thought of going back outside. Every single room was full with half dead people and there wasn’t an inch of space along the walls that wasn’t covered with people lying on stretchers. I had to walk sideways to get past them. Crowded and all as it seemed, the flow of people arriving on stretchers was not to be believed. Endless. Some coming and some going.

They put me on a stretcher and I wait- ed, and waited, and waited. I noticed the nurses and doctors working there were rushing around like someone was chasing them with a bull whip. They were working extremely hard and it was plain to see that the facility was just not big enough and it was understaffed to handle the enormous amount of people coming and going.

After three hours a doctor came and talked to me and after tests and a CT scan it was found to be kidney stones. Two and a half days later I got a room upstairs. I was in the room with a 40 year old homeless man with no kidneys. How his kidneys were nuked only he knew. I was calling my granddaughter to bring me my phone charger. “I have all kinds of chargers,” he said as he reached for a bag underneath his bed. “Perfect” I said as my phone is charging. We got into a conversation I could tell he was miles ahead of me when it came to intelligence. I drove over the pot holes to get there. Need I go any further? We started to talk about politics and various things. “Wait a minute. I’ll look that up,” he said and again he reached for his bag under the bed. ‘What is that?” I asked. “That’s a tablet. If I can’t get that here I have something else,” he said. I’m thinking. What is wrong with this picture? Here I am with a cell phone so old it should be in a museum and here is a homeless man with every modern device that obviously cost hundreds or maybe thousands of dollars in a duffle bag under his bed.

I felt bad for him. He spent most of the night sitting on the edge of the bed bobbing and weaving trying to stay awake. I said to him. “Why don’t you lie down and go to sleep?” He said. “I can’t. I feel like I am drowning and the doctor told me it was only my imagination but he’s not the one drowning.” Upstairs the scene with the nurses and doctors was the same as in emergency. Despite their overwhelming task of taking care of the patients each and every one of them were courteous and kind. I guess the management is responsible for hiring compassionate staff members but they are overworked and that is not fair.

St. John’s is a Rockaway treasure and a needed one. We should cherish it and protect it. Don’t take it for granted as we did with Peninsula Hospital and then cry. “I never missed my water till my well ran dry.”

JOHN BAXTER

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