Monday, April 29, 2013


My time at St. Francis Hospital in Port Washington New York was limited to just about a year.   Anyone who knows me knows that I like to stay with the same employer as long as possible, until something really good comes along, or until I escape.   Wow, some of the "Death Camps" I found myself in!  Some jobs are like quick sand.   You get pulled down gradually, slowly until your in up to your throat.  You wake up, smell the Sanka, and say I gotta get the hell out of dodge.  Well that's it for the cliches.

 Working night shift at St. Francis was what I did there.  Some nights I was a one man band others I had a partner, "Sam" was his name.   He was a good guy.   Just like me he was a good guy in the wrong place at the wrong time.   I could have worked there for a decade if it wasn't for the actions of shall I say... "Mr. Crank-Yanker".  St. Francis was a full function hospital lab with Microbiology, Toxicology/TDM, usual Hematology, Chemistry, Serology, Special Chemistry, and an awfully busy BloodBank.  St. Francis was and is the premier Cardiac Care hospital on the North Shore of Nassau County New York.  The lab was stocked full of high tech analyzers which were fairly new with a couple "State of the Art" pieces.    Mr. Crank-Yanker was the Chemistry Supervisor smug, powerful because his buddy was the Lab Manager, he often acted like he was Teflon-Don, King Turd on Crap Mountain, Capt'n Luggey on the SS Kleenex, I could go on....He was a charming chap as long as your lips were sore if you get my drift.

 Anyway, the shift for me ended sometime around whenever I was done answering questions from the day shift techs, preparing the days chemistry reagents, checking in one last time in bloodbank and whatever else around 8:00 AM.   I would leave the building passing by the rows of Ferrari, Porsche, Mercedes Benz, & Beemers, it made you sick to look at making just barely enough to live and payback student loans.   On the hour long drive home in my 1982 5spd Celica, I would often think about the shift, the patients I collected blood from,  and the workload. Some patients were very dear and thanked you for taking their blood even though it was painful or it was the 2nd or 3rd stick in less than 24 hours.   Other patients complained incessantly but that was their right.   They were sick or just had open heart surgery.   A needle stick was the least of their troubles but it was a big deal to them.  Healthcare is terribly rewarding in more ways than money.  Compassion for fellow man, doing the right thing, Safety, and customer service even though we did not call it customer service back then;  it was just providing the best care we could with what we had.  Without computers everything was on paper, log books and tickets with lab results which were sent to nursing stations for charting.   The biggest reward of healthcare is getting people or animals (for the vet lab folks) back to health. No tips, no presents, once in a while a thank you.  The absolute best is when the patients leave out the front door in a wheel chair to a waiting family instead of a gurney out the back to a waiting blacked out station waggon.

 Oh Well, the reason for my escaping this death camp for the next was simple.   Harassment.  You see I was just married in 1984 to my beautiful bride Leslie.  We were newlyweds, both working night shift at different facilities of the Catholic Archdiocese of New York. Leslie was a RN working in Neonatal ICU.   We had lots of stories to share with each other.  Although her patient contact was more intense and deep leading to either really positive outcomes or terrible despair.   My beautiful bride would also come to hate Mr. Crank-Yanker as much as I did.

 I would leave the hospital by 8-8:30 AM. Leslie would get home from her shift around 7:30-7:45.   By the time she got into bed and just about fell asleep, her slumber would be interrupted by the telephone.   There were no cell phones back then. Even Mr. Crank-Yanker, "I drive a Beemer" did not have a cell phone.   This was the land-line ringing.   She answered the phone and what she would get in her ear was "Is Scott There?"   "This is St. Francis Lab - We were wondering where specimen xyz was placed?"  The first couple of times she answered that call she gracefully said "Scott is not home yet - I will tell him you called when he gets home". By the Fifth time Leslie was woken up to be asked where a specimen is she is getting downright pissed!   Her responses went from "I'll tell him to call you when he gets home" to "Do you know it takes him an hour to get home - He just left the lab!" ...  "Why are you calling everyday at the same time, waking me up an hour before he gets home!".  Now she is getting pissed at me, she hated the jerk who is calling every day, she is losing sleep, and we are getting into a miserable state every morning.  The last straw is a quiet morning, Leslie asleep in bed, I am driving home from work and the phone rings.   It is none other than Mr. Crank-Yanker asking where specimen xyz is.  Well, she lets him have it.   He deserved it.  He owned it.  Her final words were "If you don't stop calling me I am going to report you to the police!"   From that point on the morning harassment calls stopped...for a few weeks.  By now, it was common knowledge among my co-workers on day shift that according to King Turd my wife was a nasty bitch.   My work life was becoming increasingly excruciating.   I was written up for frivolous stuff as insubordination after I wrote a complaint to HR about the harassment.  It was a losing battle. King Turds buddy was the lab manager which I had to confront both of them at the same time to discuss my complaint.  Soon thereafter the calls started again.   Any way, several key staff members had enough with Mr. Crank-Yanker as well and we all left the premises for good within a few months.

 I was off to bigger and more atrocious death camps to be chalked up in my work history as a Medical Technologist.   There was a rabble of horrible managers, crazy co-workers, and terrible conditions to bang out in the years to come.  Medical Technologist;  That's what we were called back then unless you were my Grandmother; she called me Lab-Turtle. idk?  Now we are called "Clinical Laboratory Scientists".
Good day my friends.

1 comment:

Leslie M. said...

Those were the days Hubby! Make sure to tell your readers about the Gourmet Spaghetti Dinner I cooked for you during our first few months of marriage.

Gosh were were sleep deprived. I mean, I'm older, wiser and have learned to live on 2 hours of sleep but back then it was a disaster.

Great Blog! I love you Scott.

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