"Pilate saith unto him, What is truth? And when he had said this, he went out again..."

Location: Tampa, FL, United States

Thursday, July 02, 2009


Your local ICU has four beds. In room #1 is Debbie, a kidney cancer patient with no insurance. While hopitalized for dialysis she came down with a nasty blood infection and is now struggling to live. She's being given a host of IV medications barely keeping her blood pressure above 50/32, and several IV antibiotics to kill off the bacteria that have overwhelmed her body.

Moving on to room #2 is Jack. Jack, 31, escaped from jail about a year ago and got back on the coke train. Last month he went nuts at a party and loaded himself up with heroin, cocaine, Jack Daniels, Xanax and Thorazine before stealing a SUV and driving it into a school bus at 105mph, killing seven six graders in the process. Jack suffered a collapse lung, a fractured pelvis, a ruptured spleen, a broken tibia and fibula in the left leg and a broken collar bone. He has no insurance and has been in room #2 for 18 days and counting. He can't go to a nursing home because he's on a ventilator and nobody has a vacancy for a patient on a ventilator. Prior to this admission he had 47 visits to the emergency room and was known by the staff "off the record" as a "drug seeker."

Room #3. Betty, 40, uninsured, has been HIV+ for 15 years having been deeply involved in IV drug abuse while a prostitute. She weighs 98 lbs and is 5'-8". She tested positive for tuberculosis on this most recent admission and has come down with a highly resistant case of pneumonia. Last week she suffered a small stroke and has a blood clot in her lung. Last night she had an anaphylactic reaction to a new antibiotic and had to be intubated and put on a ventilator. Her doctor has started her on total parenteral nutrition through a central IV catheter. Her three small children are in the care of the county. Her husband was murdered years ago in a gang-related incident.

Room #4 is vacant. Michelle Obama was shot at an appearance at a local mall. In the emergency room the doctors x-rayed her right shoulder and there's no evidence of a bullet or fragments. The P.A. gives her 12 stitches and admits her to ICU overnight for observation. Her blood pressure is 138/74. Her pulse is 82. Her temperature is normal as is her bloodwork.

30 minutes after Michelle Obama is admitted to room #4, Jack, 66, is brought to the emergency room by EMS. He's carried insurance his whole life and is self-employed. His two adult children own and operate successful small businesses. While at home Jack accidentally shoots himself cleaning his favorite hunting rifle. The bullet grazes his liver and collapses his left lung. The emergency room physician controls the bleeding, inserts a chest tube, stabilizes Jack and orders him to be transferred by EMS to a nearby hospital with available ICU beds. While in route the ambulance is hit by an 18-wheeler, killing Jack and both paramedics instantly.

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