Saturday, June 1, 2013
"Strike Two. You're Out!"
“Strike two. You’re out!” I thought I would have to say to one of our favorite nurses whom I caught sleeping on duty. She had been with us for almost a half-dozen years. In baseball, you get three strikes. Sentries caught sleeping in wartime did not get a second snooze. Should a nurse found sleeping on duty get a second chance?
We have around-the-clock nursing for my wife, Tina Su Cooper, now quadriplegic and ventilator-dependent due to multiple sclerosis (MS). Almost hourly during the day and every few hours at night, Tina gets the scheduled feedings, medications, and treatments that have kept her alive far past the few months of life expectancy they gave her when she was released from the Critical Care Unit. It was home or the hospice after a one-hundred day battle with pneumonia and systemic infections during the spring of 2004. Our lightest nursing shift is the overnight shift, from 10 P.M. to 8 A.M., but it is the one that has cost several nurses their jobs here, as falling asleep on the shift is terminal. They used to shoot sentries who fell asleep on duty. We don’t shoot sleeping nurses, but we do fire them. They are our lifeguards, our sentries, as well as our skilled medical professionals.
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