Confessions of a Hospital Volunteer Health Ambulance Car Driver – The Forgetful Priest
Has the patient have any special requirements?
I volunteer to drive vulnerable patients to their hospital appointments. I do this on behalf and to support the ambulance service. We use our own vehicles and do not get paid for our time. This is my second confession. This confessions of a hospital volunteer ambulance driver is about a forgetful priest.
We are sometimes given tight schedules to deliver our patients. We often have a full seat capacity of patients with multiple pick-ups and drops. Each patient is assisted and escorted. We are used efficiently, effectively and economically.
It wasn’t an unusual day. I was given a list of patients and, although a bit of a rush, I managed to let them all know my progress throughout the day. It was in the afternoon that I picked up a cancer patient for a drop some 50 miles into radiotherapy.
The second patient was to go to an outpatient’s appointment. I phoned up both and discovered that the second one was to be picked up from a ward on route. I asked the nurse if there were special requirements and where the patient was to be escorted to. She didn’t know but agreed to have him ready.
Which outpatients clinic do you need to attend, Father?” I enquired. “Oh, for the life of me I can’t remember."
Time was tight. I arrived at the hospital. The patient wasn’t ready. I reminded the nurse that we needed to leave. So, a nurses five minutes later… and we all know how long this! I introduced myself to the man in his room. I was trying to speed up the process and see what I could do to help. He looked a little confused.
“Hello, Mr O’Ryan. I’m Sharon and I will taking you to your outpatients appointment.” An Irish accent returned with a little vagueness, “Ock, I thank you.” I helped him with his coat and we proceeded to the car. The nurse armed me with a thick folder of notes. I noticed on the header of the folder his name – he was a Father, so I thought it a good icebreaker and friendlily mentioned this.
When we got to the car, I noticed a little hesitation. “Is everything alright, Father?” I asked. “Ock, yes, all is fine.” So I tucked him in the back seat with his seat belt and proceeded. “So, you are off to Longitude Hospital. Which outpatients clinic do you need to attend, Father?” I enquired. “Oh, for the life of me I can’t remember. It’s something the other Father’s had organised, I really can’t tell you.”
I thought, my God, there are dozens of clinics at this major hospital; it is going to be like a needle in a haystack! “Do you have a letter at all?” I tentatively asked. “Um,” He thought deeply, “I think I left it on the side, before the accident.” Oh, so he was in an accident of some kind, I thought. Then I realised his hesitation when he encountered the car.
“When was the last time you were in a car, Father?” I fished. “Well, it must have been,” he thought for a few moments, “when my car collided with that other one. Yes, be Jesus, so it was!”
It was a bit of a case for Sherlock Holmes!
This poor man must have been caught in a smash up, knocked unconscious and suffering from memory loss. I hadn’t been prepared for this but as we come across all sorts of challenges helping people, it isn’t unusual to have to think on our feet as a volunteer.
I felt that the Father would have been reliving past events in his mind, now there was an association with the car. It might have been that he had only just remembered.
Taking this on board, I realised how important it was to make this first journey good. Like riding a bike, if a child falls, the best way to help them move on is by getting him straight back on again. I decided to take a route that was limited in traffic, nice to look at and reliable in time. It was important to reassure and divert the attention from negative conflict with other cars, providing a smooth journey.
This journey, therefore, was more than just taking someone to their appointment. This could have a marked affect on his recovery. Time was tight, but I wouldn’t let the pressure make me drive faster and affect the father.
During the journey, I reassured him not to worry about being late. All would be fine and I would find out when we got to the destination where we needed to be. I pointed out all the lovely spots and conversation points of interest to help keep him calm.
It was a conversation that included all of us, including the cancer patient. I could see that my resources, however, was more needed with the Father than the patient going to radiotherapy, so I dropped him off first and escorted him to the right place. I gave him a pre-prepared note with my telephone number so as the receptionist to contact me and I could give her an idea how long he would be.
We reached Longitude Hospital, just about on time, but now the challenge – hunt the right outpatients department! It would have been fine if the control office knew where he was supposed to be, but they didn’t have a clue either! I went to department 1 – to no avail. They had no record on the computer system. I then went to another department – wrong again!
They checked the system again. Unfortunately, the Father couldn’t remember his address, and there wasn’t the correct address in his notes. It was a bit of a case for Sherlock Holmes. However, there was a ‘Father’ from his parish with an appointment at renal. Already 45 minutes late, I managed to get him to his appointment. I checked him in first, whilst he waited in the car – I didn’t want him to be dragged around and it was better that he remained comfortable.
I was told that his Doctor had gone – I was too late! Anyway, I explained about the problems we had encountered and with a phone call, the Doctor returned especially to accommodate the Father. I waited with the Father, so he didn’t get disorientated and remained in the same place as he had left me. His notes didn’t leave me, except for with the Doctor and their return to the ward.
Miracles happen every day!
The Father didn’t have a clue the lengths I had gone to – he was in blissful ignorance – thank God! He just kept on saying what a wonderful service he had encountered and how flexible it was. He really was in disbelief that someone could turn up nearly one hour late and still be seen… and so promptly too – he didn’t even have to wait! As I write this, I laugh to myself.
The worries I was feeling and the panic was well covered. I returned both patients happy, calm and within time. I am always confident that miracles happen every day, despite the odds. This was one of those days, but boy was it satisfying!
So this conclues my story of confessions of a hospital volunteer health ambulance car driver - the forgetful priest.
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