This past Friday night I was relaxing at home, surfing the ‘Net, and reading blogs. Super Hearing Boy (SHB) was washing dishes as payment for his cell phone subscription. Suddenly, he runs into my room with a look of terror on his face and shouts:

SHB: MMMMmmm! MMM MMMdMMMMSLSKDJDK!!

Me: What?

SHB: Look! (points)

Blood was pouring from his right hand.

Me: What happened???!!!!!

SHB: I was washing a glass and it broke!

This was no superficial cut; he needed medical attention at once. I grab a washcloth to wrap his hand in, grab my purse, and in 60 seconds we were out the door. Luckily, the nearest hospital was only a few miles away. I drive like a mad woman and in ten minutes we were in the Emergency Room.

We make a beeline for the nurse’s station.

Me: My son cut his hand! Where do we go?

Nurse: Mmmhdkfjkdj kdjfkdjfk jdkfjdkf kkdfjkd

Me: (Realizing I don’t have my hearing aids in) I’m hard of hearing! Where do we go?

Nurse: (Points)

We go to the room on the right and go to the nurse’s station there. I fumble in my purse and find the box where I keep my hearing aids. Quickly, I place them in my ears and the formerly silent hospital comes to life, blasting my ears with the sound of babies crying, people talking, and the tv blaring.

The triage nurse briefly assesses SHB’s injury and tells us to sit down. A few minutes later, SHB is called and the nurse wraps gauze around his hand and throws away the blood-soaked washcloth. On four separate occasions, SHB is called and I miss his name each time! Because SHB hears so well, I depend on his ears and didn’t ask the hospital staff to walk out to the patient waiting area to get my attention. Three and a half hours later, we leave with SHB’s wound closed with six sutures (stitches).

The next day, after I’ve calmed down, I think about the previous night. I understand hospitals have procedures to follow with each patient, but surely there’s a better way than calling patients’ names in a cacophonous environment. A numbered system that visually alerts patients would be much better. The Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) in my city has an efficient visual and auditory method of alerting customers that’s very hoh/deaf friendly. Upon walking into the DMV, customers take a number and sit down. After a short wait, the customer’s number is spoken and flashed on the multiple screens surrounding the waiting area. Arrows point the way to the appropriate Customer Service Representative.

Does anyone know of an ER with deaf/hoh friendly ways of alerting patients?

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