Sunday, November 20, 2011

St. Elsewhere

While in my residency, I did an anesthesia rotation at Charity Hospital in New Orleans.  As Pediatric Dentistry residents, we spent every day for a month providing anesthesia for all kinds of surgical cases.  Later on, we did a rotation at Children's Hospital.  During these rotations, with often minimal supervision, we started IVs, calculated and administered medications, intubated the patients and provided whatever was needed to keep the patient asleep and alive during surgery.


It could be stressful, as we were no as familiar with the OR as the medical residents.  Moreover, Charity was a unique place.  It was built like Fort Knox with 24 operating rooms on the 12th floor.  It was an old building and had an eerie St. Elsewhere atmosphere.  In fact, it seemed every time I entered the building, I'd hear the theme song from that TV show.  We didn't get too much help from anyone there and kind of had to fend for ourselves, scrounging up supplies.  If you didn't have an IV setup or a pulse oximeter, you'd just "steal" one from an adjacent unoccupied operating room before someone was the wiser.  We also sat in on anesthesia resident meetings.  Some of the surgeries were interesting to watch.  Of course, we were actually quite busy keeping the patient monitored.  There were orthopedic cases and a few jaw reconstructions, sometimes abdominal surgeries, but mostly minor stuff.

Every now and then they brought in patients from the local prisons for treatment.  One day one of them escaped and somehow in the ensuing melee, was chased outside, where the police promptly shot him.  They brought him right back in the hospital to get patched up and go back to jail.  That was a typical day at Charity.  Of course Charity became even more infamous during hurricane Katrina.  I was so glad to finish with the rotation, but was thankful to have had the experience.  I learned a lot about sedation and anesthesia.

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