The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

Not Quite ER

Oct 6, 2003

The Spark received the following letter from a Chicago reader about the experience his elderly and sick father went through at the new Cook County Hospital, built at a cost of 623 million dollars and famous because of the TV program ER. He was sent by his doctor to Cook County to see a urologist because he had blood in his urine..


When he called to make an appointment, he was told to go in person to the second floor to see a urologist. When he went to the second floor reception, he was told that Urology was in Clinic E on the first floor. He goes to the first floor and after waiting 20 minutes on a long line, he gets called to see what he needs. He explains that he needs to see a urologist. The receptionist tells him that if this is his first time in the hospital, he needs to go to register at the Fantus Clinic (across the street). He goes back to this clinic again and to the information desk to make sure he is in the right place, but there is nobody there to help. He sees a long line and other patients tell him he needs to get in line. After waiting for 20 minutes, he finally is called by the nurse. The nurse realizes that this man is very old and he needs attention fast so she decides to get him priority over the other patients and right away he is sent to a booth where they take his information. The nurse sees that this old man needs fast attention so she calls a doctor right away and as soon as the doctor comes, he recommends that this patient needs to go to the emergency room. He is taken to the emergency room and there, the nurse refuses to take the patient because the patient has to go through other procedures that the hospital worker ignored. The patient is taken to a place where he goes through the same questions and his body temperature and arm pulse is taken. He is sent back to the ER waiting room to wait two hours, then he is called to a booth and the nurse asks him why he is there. He is sent back to the waiting room for another hour and gets called to sign some forms. Goes back to the waiting room for another hour, then he gets called to get a urine sample and a blood test. He is sent to a bigger waiting room to wait for his name to be called. While he is waiting, another older man loses consciousness on the waiting line.

After one hour, he gets called again to be taken to the "Red Team." He is taken to a room to finally see the doctor. One hour later a nurse shows up and she takes a blood sample again and the body temp. Then wait. Later a doctor comes in and starts the questionnaire again. She disappears and later she prescribes a certain medicine and says that the patient needs to come back in three days to the "Green Team." The patient spent 8 hours and was not able to see a urologist. When he comes back three days later, he goes directly to the ER but has to go through the same waiting procedure, paper work and spend another six hours. He was seen by a different doctor, but is told that he needs to make an appointment to see a urologist. By the time he is told this, it was already too late to make an appointment so he needed to call the next day.

When he gets the appointment, he is told to come at 12:00 to the E Clinic. When he gets to the E Clinic, he has to register. The waiting procedure starts all over again. Some people cannot wait this long and try to take it out on the bureaucratic workers but the police are called and the police show up right away.

After spending 6 hours, the old man finally gets to see a doctor, but not a urologist. He is checked again, and finally the doctor talks to the urologist. The urologist gets upset and states that he cannot see a patient unless the patient has gone through X-Rays, blood tests and urine sample. It is late again and the appointment desk is closed. He finally makes an appointment, set for a month and a half later. Will he ever get to see the urologist?