Not-so-smooth operator

The majority of calls to and from the hospital go through the operator. For the most part, everything runs without a hitch. Unfortunately, there is one operator that is always off her “A-game”. And she usually works at night.

During my last two nights working, I received a call between 2-3AM. Both times a familiar voice on the other line said, “Who’s this?”

My response both times was, “This is Dr. Carpenter. But you called me.”

She retorted the first time, “Oh, I’m sorry doc. I was trying to call someone else.” The second time she just hung up without a word.

Last night, she called me and said, “Someone needs you right away. Let me transfer you over”. She first transferred me to the pediatric wards. Nobody there. She then sent me to the ICU. Nope, things were calm. Next was neonatology. All quiet on that front.

She then said, “Somebody really needs you and I forgot who they were and where they were calling from. Let me announce overhead and call you back.”

Moments later, I was put in contact with the well-baby nursery.

About an hour later, I was calling to follow-up on the patient. I asked the operator, “Please transfer me to the nursery.”

After a slight delay, I heard “ICU, how can I help you.”

I called the operator back and patiently said, “I need the nursery, not the ICU.”

Again, after a slight pause, the woman on the other line quickly said “NICU, this is Edna.”

I couldn’t help but start laughing out loud.

I took a moment and then called back. When the operator answered, I said, “I’m not quite sure what’s going on, but you transferred me to the wrong number again. Please transfer me to the nursery. This is the place for the well-babies, not the ICU, NICU or the pediatric wards.”

She softly said, “Doc I’m sorry. All these numbers just make things confusing.”


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