Burger Chain Triage

July 16, 2013

by Nancy Redman

One day I cut my finger chopping onions. Alarmed at the resulting geyser of blood, I was faced with imminent danger and the necessity of finding the nearest emergency room.

But posted outside the closed emergency room in Brooklyn, there was a sign.

  1. Emergency room cutbacks have forced us to make significant changes in policy.
  2. Emergencies now require appointments.
  3. Scheduled appointments must be made one day in advance.
  4. We are open Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
  5. Many emergency rooms, including this one, are merging with fast-food chains.
  6. If you show up without an appointment, you must go to the Burger King on Fulton Street where our medical interns and resident doctors will take your meal order along with your blood pressure, temperature, and blood work. Burger King has a triage and cots if you need to stay overnight.
  7. This is a statewide change of policy.
  8. Sorry for the inconvenience.

I took the bus to the hospital’s affiliated Burger King Medical Center and approached a young intern at the cashier.

Excuse me, I said, holding my bleeding finger. I have an emergency.

The intern said, Would you like fries with your emergency?

No, I said. Is there someone who can stop this bleeding?

Yes, he said. But we have to take your order first in order for you to receive medical care. It is our policy.

I said, okay, I’ll have a burger and a coke.

Good, he said. That will be fifty dollars.

Fifty dollars?

Yes, he said. There is a minimum charge.

I have insurance, I answered.

The intern said, We have a large overhead. It is a fifty dollar minimum plus insurance.

He brought me my burger and a coke.

Intern: Now take a number, sit and wait to be called. You will be seen in the next group of sixty people, ages thirty through eighty.

Me: I’m losing a lot of blood.

Intern: I’m losing a lot of patients.

Me: I don’t doubt that! Is there a doctor in charge?

Intern: He’s making shakes. You’ll have to wait.

We have seventy-seven people bleeding, fifty-three gun shot wounds, twenty-four stab wounds. Bleeding from the head and chest. You have a bloody finger.

How did you cut your finger?

Me: I was chopping onions.

Intern: Unfortunately, you are a low priority. Hold the gauze and ice tight around your finger. I will call you when your meal is ready.

Before I sat down, he said, Anything else?

I said – Just this –

I gave him the finger.

The intern said, Ahh – the finger.

Now you’ve gotta see a psychiatrist.

Nancy Redman is an actress, standup, and playwright. Her one-woman play, CLUTTER: I’m Saving My Life and It’s Killing Me won Best Comedian Award United Solo Theatre Festival 2011 and Best Directing Award for Austin Pendleton. Ms. Redman’s plays are published at http://www.indietheaternow.com/Playwright/nancy-redman

All Downsized Living blog posts are fictitious and satirical. Any resemblance to real persons is coincidental and unintentional.