We had a very busy evening last night. People were being packed in like sardines, many were very sick, and there were people waiting outside for hours upon hours. I had EIGHT SKIJILLION patients.
And then the husband of one of them comes over and says, "Excuse me, I don't think it's right."
"What's not right sir?"
"My wife has to share a spot with some other lady, and I don't think it's right. She needs to be moved to another room."
I blinked at him. All around, people were in stretchers in the hallway, doctors rushing around, the asthma chair area was packed with people in seats we had dragged in from the waiting room, alarm bells going off. It was chaos. The man's wife was in a room with a little old lady who had been moaning in pain, but who had stopped and drifted to sleep after I gave her some medication. No stinky wounds, no poop dripping on the floor, no urine-stained reeking bedclothes.
"Sir, it's very busy today, and unfortunately, the ambulances haven't stopped coming. There are quite a few people sharing their rooms. I'm sorry it's that way, but it has to be like this for now."
"We pay good money to this hospital, and I think she should have her own room."
"I do too, but right now it's not possible. I'm sorry."
He huffed away. The woman's roommate was pulled out of the room for a CT scan, and when she returned, the transport tech notified me that he couldn't get the stretcher back in the room. I went over to see what was wrong. The husband had moved his wife's stretcher to the middle of the spot, and had barricaded them in with three chairs piled high with her stuff.
"I'm sorry, we have to move you folks over a little bit, and remove some of these chairs so this lady can come back to her spot," I said as sweetly as I could.
"But she left! This is our spot now!"
I took a deep breath. "Listen to me. I have explained to you that for now, you will have to share a place with this woman. It is not acceptable to block the space with your things or to move the bed over. Please let me move it back."
Of course, now the inevitable: "I think you have a bad attitude, Nurse. Who is your supervisor? I need to speak with your supervisor." I wearily pointed him out, about 20 feet away, amusedly watching the situation.
Of course, he got an earful. Later our manager came up to me and said, winking, "You know, apparently you're snippy! I'm going to have to put that in your permanent record!"