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24 hours in emergency

“I learned a lot about how great a hospital St. Michael’s is and what a bunch of superheroes they have working in the emergency department.” Maria Herman

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24 hours in emergency (Maria)

The plan was to take advantage of nice weather and enjoy an early October swim in Lake Ontario. My appendix had other ideas. I spent 24 hours in emergency, followed by surgery, followed by a couple of days in hospital. So much for plans.

I can’t say it was fun. But I learned a lot about how great a hospital St. Michael’s is and what a bunch of superheroes they have working in the Slaight Family Emergency Department–from the security guards to the orderlies and nurses.

My own experience was straightforward. It was a long wait, but I can’t fault the hospital. That’s just our system.

My surgery was a success, and my recovery is coming along nicely. But it wasn’t the medical care that blew me away, though that was great. It was how I was treated while I was there: with consideration and respect by each of the dozens of people I interacted with.

For those who don’t know, St. Michael’s is a downtown hospital. During my time in emergency, I learned what that means. It means a lot of people coming through who are clearly living with mental health and addictions issues. People yelling, crying and suffering. For hours on end. It was heartbreaking and, sometimes, frightening. It was also inspiring.

Over 24 hours, I didn’t see anyone treated with anything other than respect and compassion. The nurses and staff were pulled in eight different directions at once. They were the ones who were yelled at. Cried on. But they never once lost their patience or cool. They never once projected anything other than empathy and courtesy. I was awestruck.

I wish every person in Toronto could spend 24 hours in the Slaight Family Emergency Department. They would see firsthand the terrible mental health and addictions issues some people in our city are dealing with, and they would be amazed by the compassion and commitment of the people who work at St. Michael’s. True superheroes, indeed.

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