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Feb 20, 2003 to Feb 6, 2013

BMH Emergency Department Campaign - Join Us. Give Now

Brattleboro Memorial Hospital employees dance and sing their way through the Emergency Department encouraging the community to "Join Us. Give Now." Make a secure gift at http://tiny.cc/y1r23w. Learn more about the ED project at http://bmhed.org/.

Or you can mail a check to BMH Office of Development, 17 Belmont Avenue, Brattleboro, VT, 05301. For more information call the Office of Development at 802-257-8314.


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I wasn't going to say anything, but...

I could not help marveling at the contrast between the lively singing and dancing in this "Emergency Room Musical," and the real world experience when my friend waited four hours, with a life-threatening medical emergency with no one communicating with her how long would be the expected wait, and no explanation.

When she finally got out of the waiting room and was admitted into the medical area, she again waited with no communication until, finally, a physician saw her for one minute, did not listen to relevant information. did not introduce himself or even say that he was a physician (so we assumed he was) and quickly disappeared with no word about what to expect next.

We then sat there for another half hour, again with no communication about what to expect. Maybe it was a bad day, but there was a zombie-like inattentiveness, as though the people who were supposed to help were not present.

Finally an aid came to draw blood, which was totally inappropriate in this particular situation. When my friend said, "I'm a tough stick" (meaning that her veins are difficult to draw from) and asked this aid whether she had much experience: In a manner of shrugging indifference, the aid admitted that she did not.

My friend finally left, feeling that the incompetence and indifference in the BMH ER was more risky than leaving. I honestly could not advise my friend to trust the staff there. For sensitivity to my friend, I do not want to disclose the exact nature of her emergency, but she had been directed to the ER by a physician, who determined that she was precariously close to medical disaster, and needed immediate stabilization.

No doubt the new ER was needed: but a larger, modern facility will do little good without a change in the BMH corporate culture. My experience at BMH is that there are some great physicians, nurses, staff -- most in fact -- but they are wonderful because of their own personal love and dedication, which emerges even in the context of an organization which tolerate and enables mediocrity and indifference.

Frankly, every time I read one of the formulaic BMH press releases, airbrushed with buzzwords and cliches, I get annoyed. Are they really incapable of genuine communication?

Perhaps the new CEO may be trying to change the dysfunctional practices of past BMH leadership, quietly, behind the scenes. It will take time to find out if real improvement is in the offing. In the meantime, going to the ER is a gamble: Will it be a good day there, or not so good?


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