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September 5, 2014 / jeffnward

What’s in a name? Apparently a lot when you’re at the ER!

But before we get to the main poetic course, we have to set this fascinating story up with a reasonably prosaic appetizer. So here goes nuthin’!

I have a very good friend who, as George Carlin would say, “happens to have” an Hispanic sounding last name. Though the truth is, If you gaze upon his gleaming visage in the full light of day, the depth of his Italian heritage is pretty obvious. Ah! But when viewed under the vagaries of florescent lighting, I suppose he could be mistaken for someone of Spanish-Mexican descent.

It’s also important to note that this friend regularly has to cope with some of the most interesting three day weekends ever endured by any human being. So taking a schadenfraude page from my German ancestry, I look forward to those forthcoming Tuesdays when I can inevitably ask him, “Alright! What happened this time?”

And his Labor Day experience did not disappoint.

The sad thing is, he’d nearly made it through this one intact. But just when he thought he was out of the woods, distracted by her children while dicing some Monday dinner vegetables, his wife took a chunk out of one of her left-hand fingers.

So instead of dinner, it was off to the Delnor Emergency Room where they found themselves fourth in line.

delnorBeing an astute observer of the human condition, my friend noted that, though it wasn’t required of the three antecedents, the intake worker specifically asked him for identification. He thought it was a little odd, but it didn’t rise to the level of a pointed response.

But after a second ER employee made the same request in the waiting room, he began to wonder what the heck was going on. When they went back to be treated, it became a bit more clear.

He wasn’t exactly sure who the revolving group of staffers were – they could have been social workers, patient advocates, or simply nurses – but the first one asked his wife if she was right-handed.

Upon an affirmative reply, she quickly retreated.

After a brief interval, a second one appeared to ask his wife if she was scared. Now my friend, who’s capacity to suffer fools is even more limited than mine, was getting a little ticked. But he realized that if he responded too negatively, he might just prove their point, so he let that go too.

Then the original interviewer returned to inquire as to whether his wife was feeling suicidal.

Now, I don’t know about you, but folks who plan on doing themselves in with a kitchen knife generally aim a little bit higher than their fingertip. It wasn’t as if the wound wasn’t consistent with a very plausible story.

And just when he thought it couldn’t get any worse, a male employee approached his wife and quietly asked, “Are you afraid to go home with him?”

Finally fed up with the third degree, my friend replied, “Look buddy!, If I was going to bleeping stab my wife it wouldn’t be in the bleeping finger.” And that promptly ended the inquisition. Three hours later, her finger was sewn up and they on their way back home.

Please don’t get me wrong, I understand that hospital staff are mandated reporters who are trained to be on the lookout for this kind of thing and we should be grateful for their vigilance. But as sure as I’m sitting here, I know that if my friend’s last name was “Ward,” that conversation would have never taken place.

How do I know this? Because my wife did the very same thing, and while she’s no longer allowed to go anywhere near my Wusthofs, when we ended up in the ER (Not Delnor), they didn’t say boo.

C’mon! Domestic violence is one of those rare non-partisan acts that knows no racial, economic, or ethnic boundaries. And even though I’m sure their intentions were good, this is clearly a case of a hospital staff trying to save the poor white woman from her nefarious Hispanic husband despite an utter lack of any real evidence to support their theory.

Shame on them.

4 Comments

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  1. Vicky / Sep 6 2014 9:56 pm

    No actually you are wrong on this. It is never wrong to ask if someone is safe at home. And if they failed to ask your wife or she forgot they asked then that is wrong. The shame is in not asking

    • jeffnward / Sep 7 2014 7:08 am

      Vicky,

      Nine times out of ten, I’m with you . It’s always better to be safe than sorry. But here’s why this one is the tenth:

      1. It was a sliced finger and not a real stab wound by any stretch of the imagination. When you do cut yourself while chopping food, it’s almost always on the outside of your left hand index finger (unless you’re left-handed). So how do we leap from a very common injury to domestic abuse? Give me something to hang my hat on and I’ll chance my mind.

      2. Let’s say the hospital’s intentions were pure. The fact that they wouldn’t take no for an answer shows they’d pretty much made up their minds. The “are you right-handed” question was to determine if it might be a defensive wound. So then they moved to the “are you suicidal” which makes no sense whatsoever. And then the “are you scared to go home with him” is like throwing the third strand of spaghetti against the wall and hoping it finally sticks.

      3. Then there’s this. Why wasn’t I get questioned by the ER staff when my wife cut herself in exactly the same way? It could be as simple as it wasn’t the same hospital, but I’m not so sure about that.

      Even more on point, I wish there was some way I could link the facebook responses here because a former County Board Member, who actually is Hispanic, had a similar experience when he brought his injured son to an Aurora hospital. But when my son got hit in the forehead with a swung golf club about seven years ago, despite the bizarre nature of that wound, the Delnor ER staff didn’t say a word.

      Thus, I continue to be convinced that Delnor was convinced that the mere fact they thought they were dealing with an Hispanic man and a white woman was enough to justify their groundless suspicion.

      Jeff

  2. The other Jeff N / Sep 6 2014 11:26 pm

    Uh, Jeff, sorry but Vicky may have a point — I know that I would have checked you. “So she cut herself, eh? Sure she didn’t get a little overcritical of one of your columns?”

    • jeffnward / Sep 7 2014 7:09 am

      Jeff,

      If was the hospital staff, I would’ve had me arrested on sheer principal!

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