Can you tell me how to get to the Emergency Room?

While at work at HCMC the other day, walking back from a meeting, a woman pushing an elderly woman in a wheelchair asked me “Can you tell me how to get to the Emergency Room?” She and the woman in the wheelchair appeared placid, and I gave her directions: “Ok, take the elevator to 2R, go down the hall to the bank of elevators, go down to the first floor…” HCMC covers three city blocks with tunnels in the buildings to accomodate city streets, containing a labyrinthine network of hallways.

We got on the elevator. After the door closed, the elderly woman in the wheelchair said, to no one in particular “Will somebody help my neice?” I noticed the eyes of the woman pushing her teared up for a second, then her placid expression returned. I stopped giving directions and escorted them to the Emergency Department.

It occurred to me that while my trip to the hospital represents nothing more than the drudgery of another work day, for many a trip to the hospital means one of their nightmares is coming true.

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