So Saturday was one of my regular days to fly, but we were down a pilot on days. Ben had called and asked me to PR the local hospitals we serve. Now, I had never done this before, but anything would beat sitting around all day. I made a list of the hospitals and figured out a route. A quick trip to Wal Mart for chocolate goodies and halloween pumpkins, car loaded with PR materials and I was on my way.
I left Walterboro headed for Beaufort SC, 43 miles away. It was a nice ride and I listened to Dr. Scott Winegart and EMcrit podcasts on my way- I popped in to Dunkin Donuts as it was early - I needed coffee, and medical personnel ALWAYS like donuts. A few minutes later I found Beaufort Memorial.
An aside about this hospital- their helipad sits right on the water- truly beautiful when landing and lifting. Needless to say, staff was happy to get goodies- The Beaufort nurses asked about several patients we had transported for them, and told me about some outcomes we did not know of. The doctor on duty was interested in knowing our capabilities, so we spent time chatting about what we could transport. Finally I had to go- Hilton Head Hospital awaited me.
Another beautiful ride thru costal South Carolina and 37 miles later I arrived in Hilton Head, a beautiful manicured costal town. I saw golf courses that made me drool- I wish I had my clubs, but I was working and a flight suit is not proper golf attire. I found my way to the hospital and felt like I was driving into a plantation. Something caught my eye, and I stopped to let Mr. Turtle cross the road. Then on to the ED- a beautiful facility that serves the well heeled community.
The ED is beautiful, almost state of the art - beautifully built and decorated. Beaufort EMS and Hilton Head Fire Rescue were in the ED and I was able to visit with both the hospital staff and EMS. The paramedics were asking great questions about LZ’s, radio use and time to tertiary care facilities. I answered what I could and the few questions I did not have an exact answer for were left open with my word I would get them an answer.
I took off en route to Hardeeville, SC- a leisurely 23 miles straight up 278. It was time for college football, and I was able to find the UNC- Clemson game on the radio.Cheering ‘GO HEELS!’ I cruised toward Hardeeville, SC. Thirty minutes later I arrived in Hardeeville, remembering using 278 as a LZ a few weeks ago for a car accident.
I pulled into the hospital and made my way to the emergency department. Again, the staff happy that flight services felt they were important to visit. The doc on duty was discussing a case we had flown out a few weeks ago, and besides delivering candy, t shirts and mouse pads, I returned their blood transport cooler they had so graciously let us borrow several weeks ago. I think they were impressed that we hung on to it, took care of it, and returned it to them, but then again, that is common decency, and we value our hospital partners. I made sure the doc had the right size t shirt, and then I was off again to Varnville, SC.
A bit of a longer ride, I listened to the UNC game which was not going our way. 47 miles later I found myself arriving at Hampton County Medical Center in Varnville. A smaller emergency room in a brand new facility.
As I walked in the staff were surprised, saying ‘We don’t have anyone to fly’- I introduced myself and told them I wasn’t there to fly anyone, but was there to visit, bring goodies and answer any questions they had. The look on their face really said it all- I spent about thirty minutes visiting with them- They had some of our cups and they were using them to keep tongue depressors and q tips in. The charge nurse told me ‘ with the number on the cup right in front of me- it is easy to call y’all’ She showed me they had our number everywhere! We finished our chat and they gave me directions to Allendale.
I took off for my next stop- a mere 11 miles up the road. Fairfax is a fairly small town and as I was cruising up the road, I almost missed the hospital, a small low set white building off to the left.
I turned around and pulled into the lot. The first thing that impressed me was the sign on the door- the ER is ‘locked’ at 11 pm- ring the bell for service, but then again this is a small hospital in very rural South Carolina. A staff of three was sitting in the ED, and again, very surprised that I had traveled all the way to Fairfax to just visit. They were thrilled with the t shirts, but even happier with the chocolate. We discussed a case that had been flown a few days earlier and I gave them the opportunity to make comments and ask questions, and then explained some rationale for differences in transport times. They said they had a better understanding of the situation and were happy for our help. I bid them good bye and headed back to Walterboro, my home base.
As I drove the 42 miles back to Walterboro I reflected on the range of emergency departments and staff I had visited during the day, and the 200 miles had driven. They all varied in size, equipment, staff, and capability but one thing was constant- they are truly the front line medical caregivers for the patients we transport, and we couldn’t do it without them.
I truly enjoyed my time visiting our referring hospitals, and I hope to do it again soon....