Is there a doctor in the house? (2:05 a.m.)

Published 4:08 pm Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The early morning hours at the Shelby Baptist Medical Center emergency room are usually quiet.

But wait just a second, and that could all change.

Dr. Everitt Simmons, a 10-year veteran in the Shelby Baptist ER, has seen it all — car wrecks, heart attacks and illnesses — but each day, and night, presents new challenges and obstacles.

“It’s a challenge,” Simmons said of working in the ER. “Within a minute or two, you have to make a decision to hospitalize someone or treat them on the spot.”

And when treating patients in the ER, it’s not always first come, first serve, even though the hospital tries to make it that way.

“If you come in with a sore throat and a cardiac arrest comes in right after you, you are going to have to wait,” Simmons said. “The sickest get seen first.”

But whether it’s treating a young person or an elderly person, a heart attack patient or someone with a broken bone, SBMC’s philosophy stays the same.

“We basically treat patients the way we would want our moms or sisters treated,” Simmons said.

Simmons also said being able to connect with patients in such a short period of time, opposed to the long-term relationships people have with their family practitioners, is a challenge, but it is a challenge that is met head-on every night.

“You have to multi-task,” Simmons said. “It’s 10-12 people at once. It’s all happening at the same time.”

But whether Simmons is treating one person at a time or 10, they all get the same attention and care.

“It’s giving care with concern and real compassion in the midst of chaos,” Simmons said.

Myra Cleckler, a nurse in the SBMC ER, said caring for the patients and seeing the results is what makes her job so special.

“It’s taking care of a patient and seeing the bad turn around to be good,” Cleckler said. “When you see them get better, it’s rewarding.”

And it’s Cleckler and Simmons’ outlook that make working the long, late hours all worth it.

“There’s a camaraderie that not just anybody could have done this,” Simmons said. “The staff here is family.”