Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Go Greyhound, and Leave the Driving to Them

As most of you know, I work in the lab of a small-ish regional hospital. We have a full service blood bank, but we get our blood products primarily from the American Red Cross in St. Louis, about 120 miles away.

In general, that works just fine. We get two courier shipments a day and anything we need shipped later in the day comes on the Greyhound bus in the evening. And that's where the process gets a little hairy.

The Greyhound bus driver, who Lori affectionately refers to as "Penishead" because of his unfortunate choice of winter hats, is a smidge psychotic. We've seen him throw a variety of people off the bus hundreds of miles from their destination for a variety of perceived infractions, including the vaguely defined crime of "mouthiness." We suspect that he takes an ungodly amount of amphetamines to stay alert on his route at night, and that that might contribute to his edgy temperment.

So, anyway...Penishead drives the route that delivers my blood at night. A hospital security guard meets the bus, picks up the blood and brings it to the lab, where I process it, crossmatch it, and send it up to the patient, who is presumably saved by this miracle of cellular transportation.

The only glitch to that process is that if the security guard is 30 seconds late Penishead calls the lab, bitches me up one side and down the other, and threatens to take my blood to Paducah with him. Paducah is the only stop with a 24 hour bus station between here and Nashville, but it's still two hours away. Usually when that happens, I lie and tell him the security guard is on his way, then I call security in case I might have accidentally been telling the truth, then I throw on my coat and go pick up the blood myself.

But last night, he outfoxed me. At the appointed time, he called the Red Cross office in St. Louis instead of me, and told them that he wasn't going to wait. We could either meet him at his next stop, 20 miles away, or he would leave the blood in Paducah.

Red Cross called me, and I called Security. Security told me, "I plumb forgot! I'll go get it. Where's the next stop?"

(Plumb? Do people really still say that?)

So I called Red Cross, she called Greyhound, she called me, I called the greyhound station, I called Security, then I called the Greyhound station again. I begged him to stay open a few extra minutes, and laid it on thick about the patient, the open heart surgery, saving lives, etc., etc.

I asked the Greyhound station manager where the station was and he told me it was in a motel parking lot next to the Dairy Queen, just past the freeway, across from the V.A. hospital. Classy.
He told me he'd stay open an extra half-hour but no longer. I subsequently found out from my informant at the Red Cross that he actually lives at the motel that doubles as a Greyhound station, so it's not like he had a long commute home from work and he had to get on the road.

Anyway, the security guard made it in time, picked up the blood, brought it back to me, and we saved the patient...I think. I actually go home at 10:30, but she was still alive when left, so I'm going with the happy ending.
Oh...and in a bizarre display of karmic humor, while I was watching this drama unfold, I got a e-mail from...Greyhound! They wanted me to know that they would be lowering their fares. No doubt to correspond more closely to their level of service...

But the moral of the story is that if you're planning to have a medical crisis that requires uncommon blood products, please try to remember to do it between 9am and 4pm, or call ahead and notify the blood bank of your forthcoming crisis. Thank you.


Anonymous said...

Clearly you take civic-minded duties very seriously. We in the general population thank you. On the other hand, if you have a psychotic break at ANYTIME, 24/7, WE in the mental health bidness are here for you. :-) Robin

Kwach said...

That's because you don't have to wait for the brains to be delivered by Greyhound.

Really, the only way they could match their service to their fares is if everyone rode for free.

: )