You'd think I'd be aware of this by now.
Our ED has only seven rooms with walls; the rest are separated by curtains. This isn't the best for privacy. Especially when you're changing a colostomy bag.
This poor young man came in with a possible infection to his new stoma. There was some gross drainage, in addition to the very stinky poop that was coming out of it. His mother had gotten the wrong colostomy bags by mistake, so it was ill-fitting and leaking on his skin and clothing. He was miserable, feverish, and very upset about the odor emanating from him.
I went in with a basin, cleaning supplies, gown, and a new stoma dressing/kit and tried to fix him up, a process taking considerable time and which released a lot of stink. But we kept at it, and eventually he was clean and feeling better, no thanks to the people next door.
The entire time we were getting cleaned up, all this poor kid could hear were comments like "Dang, something smells like ass in here...why don't they spray some spray around here, this shit is NASTY! This shit gonna make me puke! You got any perfume, cause some shit up and DIED!"
I left the area to dump all the soiled material in the dirty utility room, and they all yelled after me, "Miss! What stinks? Can't you clean up this stink?!? Get some spray! This shit stinks!" I hushed them, and said, "It will be better in a minute, please, keep your voices down."
The poor kid with the stoma was just about in tears. He kept apologizing. I told him he wasn't the one who needed to apologize, that ER's are full of bad smells, and that's just the way it goes. I also told him that he'd learn how to deal with his stoma, and soon it wouldn't be so bad. My heart was just about breaking for him.
I know the people next door didn't know what was going on, but seriously. It's a hospital. Sickness smells bad. Deal with it.