Riverside Community Hospital has just launched its new “ER Wait Time Text Messaging” program. By simply texting “ER” to 23000 from your cell phone, and replying with your zip code, you can now receive the average time to be seen at the emergency room, along with a number to call to speak with a nurse. And by texting “healthy” to 23000, you can also receive occasional health information and updates on upcoming hospital events.
Information like this would be s-o-o-o helpful if you weren’t, you know, bleeding to death at the exact moment you’re supposedly curious about ER wait times or, you know, busy using your texting hand to push your intestines back inside of your body. In fact, I have never met anyone who had their crap so together—and I mean that literally because generally in emergency situations I have already started pooping my pants—that they actually took a moment to get out a dry-erase board and compare wait times for various local hospitals.
Riverside Community Hospital has even sent out a press release touting its ER texting program as “the only one of its kind in the area!” Someone should text Riverside Community to let it know that sometimes when you’re the only one doing something, it doesn’t make you a trailblazer. It just makes you the only sucker in the waiting room.
An idea this bad could only come from someone who misguidedly considers himself brilliant. No really, that’s the name of Riverside Community’s president and CEO, Patrick Brilliant. Says Brilliant in the press release: “When a person is ill and in need of medical assistance, they are expecting to be seen quickly. With this new program, a patient can know what to expect before they come to Riverside Community Hospital.”
I can see how Brilliant got his name. Patients do want to be seen quickly. What they don’t want is to be kept waiting once they get to the ER because some overworked nurse is trying to decipher everyone’s frantically misspelled text messages: I R NJRD. PLZ HZZLP?!
Tell us, Brilliant, how much does this useless little ER texting program cost? And how much of that money could have been spent to hire more nurses, staff more ER doctors and provide more hospital beds instead of diverting resources to some wasteful publicity stunt that isn’t going to solve anything except maybe get you a photo op next to a dancing novelty cell phone?
As far as you know, Brilliant, (and I’m guessing that’s about as far as I can toss a bed pan), has anyone ever complained that Riverside Community Hospital doesn’t have an ER texting program? Hell, you’ve probably received more complaints about the cafeteria’s tapioca pudding. And if this texting program costs even a penny it’s too much money, because that’s how pointless and irrelevant it is.
People are going to go to an emergency room—any emergency room—regardless of how long the wait times are because that’s what you do when you’re injured, frightened and desperate. Turns out people aren’t very discerning about which emergency room they choose to visit when parts of their body that used to be on the inside are now on the outside. That’s why it’s called an “emergency,” Brilliant, because things like texting “ER” to 23000 on your cell phone, well, they kind of take a back seat to finding somebody who can GLUE ALL YOUR FINGERS BACK ONTO YOUR HAND.
Your job, Brilliant—and I know you must be wondering what your job is right now because you’re practically inventing work for yourself—is to provide as many doctors, nurses, technicians, ambulance drivers, orderlies, janitors and candy stripers as possible. And if, by chance, you ever find that you’ve hired enough staff for your entire hospital, then just start ordering cotton swabs by the butt load (because I know at my house we’re always running out of Q-tips).
And, Brilliant, if you ever feel like starting another lame-ass piddly program like ER texting, just start shoving those Q-tips up your nose until you pass out behind your big CEO’s desk.
Now that’s a program I can get behind.
Contact Jeff Girod at email@example.com.