Kids at the Emergency Room

Back in December, my 2-year-old daughter Rowan slipped, whacked face-first into the coffee table, and gashed her upper lip. The cut was not that big, but it was bleeding badly. I figured worst case she might need a couple stitches. Jordan and I drove her to the pediatric emergency room at CHOP, the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (they were fabulous — I recommend them if you’re in the area).

While we were on the drive, the cut stopped bleeding. Rowan was smiling and chatting. Suddenly we felt a bit silly taking her to the emergency room for what now seemed pretty minor, but we decided to press ahead.

When we got to the hospital, the triage nurse, who was a guy nurse (gnurse?) took one look at Rowan and declared, “It’s plastic surgery for her!”


Turns out the cut ran across the something called the Vermilion Border and there’s a chance when that type of cut heals it could look sorta funny (I’m pretty sure that’s a medical term), so for cosmetic reasons they usually recommend stitching it up. Especially if the patient is a girl. I’m not kidding — several people at the hospital mentioned her gender as an important consideration. I tried to imagine Rowan looking badass with a punk-rock-ish scar on her upper lip, but in the end agreed with the stitches plan.

Emergency Rooms visits take a looooong time. According to a very unrigorous Google search I just did, the average wait time in US emergency rooms is nearly four hours. We’ve actually had four trips to the ER so far between our two kids, and I’d say our personal average wait time has been a little higher than four hours — perhaps justifiably, since our problems, though stressful for us, ended up being minor and must’ve been pretty low priorities for the hospital overall.

It’s quite a challenge to stay patient while you’re in the Emergency Room with your kids. You’re waiting for hours. The kids are antsy and want to play with the medical equipment. We ended up playing movies for the kids on Jordan’s phone.

I spent the time waiting for the doctors to come by. I practiced trying to just stand there, and have no thoughts in my head while I waited. This is quite difficult, but it relieves some of the boredom of waiting. Of course, anytime a hospital employee swished by our door in their comfy pants, I would get distracted, hoping they were coming to see us. Usually, they were not. Such is life as a low priority in the ER.

We haven’t yet received the bill for this ER visit. I’m sure it’ll be a big chunk of money. On a prior trip to the ER in New York City, the bill came to $2,360. Luckily, nobody pays retail. Thanks to our insurance, the bill was knocked down to $588. We’ll see how it works out for our December visit.

2 Responses to “Kids at the Emergency Room”

  1. Tyson
    January 13, 2012 at 2:48 pm #

    nice! good luck with that bill.
    (btw, “guy nurse” also reveals the profound effect of gender!)

    • Pierre Bastien
      January 13, 2012 at 2:58 pm #

      Hey Tyson. The bill actually came through today – $1,137.09 gross, $682.25 after insurance. Whee! I think that’s a good deal considering we were helped by about 20 highly competent professionals.

      In an earlier draft of my post, the triage nurse’s gender was actually relevant to the story because he was one of the people to say that Rowan should probably get stitches because she’s a girl. He has a daughter himself and the same kind of accident had happened to her, and she got stitches. He said if it were one of his sons that got cut, he might not have gotten the stitches. Anyway I later edited that part of the story out, making the nurse’s gender irrelevant, but having coined the term gnurse, I just had to leave it in.