Tuesday and Wednesday came and went. Bailey was grateful that none of the patients had the gall to go and die on any of the attendings or residents again. Thursday came around with a regular set of rounds that included the burn victim in A13. It was refreshing to have something new to add to her routine. A usual day started like this: Bailey always came in an hour early so she could have time to review the charts to see if anything changed. She talked to the night shift nurses and prepared any medications she needed for the day. She then clocked in and started her rounds: checking on the high-priority patients first, then heading over to the outgoing patients’ rooms. In between bouncing from high-priority to outgoing throughout the day, she squeezed in as many reviews of charts and medication updates as she could.
Bailey was walking down the hallway towards room A13 and glanced down at his file. The staff—with the help of the local police department—had finally figured out that his name was Ace Owens. She was unpleasantly surprised that now that his identification had been made and family had been contacted, still no one had come to visit.
Bailey was at his door. Looking up, she hoped the sign-in sheet would be filled; at least one line. But it was still blank. Bailey opened the door and was startled to see a woman standing next to Ace’s bed.
“Excuse me?” Bailey asked politely.
The woman jumped at the sound of Bailey’s voice. “Oh,” she said. The woman looked back to the sleeping man. “I’ll only be here for a few more minutes.”
Bailey nodded. “That’s alright,” she said, “but we do ask that any visitors sign in on the sheet next to their family member’s door.”
The woman looked scandalized. “I’ll be on my way, then,” she huffed, and hurried past Bailey. She didn’t spare the man a second glance before the door closed behind her.
Muttering under her breath about rudeness, Bailey peeked out of the blinds on the window of the door. The woman had already scooted around the corner and was probably down the stairs that led to the lobby. Bailey turned back to find the man staring at her.
“Oh!” Bailey breathed. She hurried over to the man’s side. “Are you alright?” Her hands flitted in the air over the IV bags, unsure of what to do. It was a funny question to ask; what she should have done was page Mathews straight away. But for some reason all she could do was stare at the man.
The man smiled at her. “It’s okay,” he whispered. “I don’t need any medication.” His voice was low and wispy, like he was in pain.
“You shouldn’t be awake,” Bailey pressed. She put her fingers to his wrist lightly and felt his pulse. It was strong, considering.
“I was just faking being asleep,” the man said. He had an accent that Bailey couldn’t quite place; probably because he was whispering. When she gave him a questioning look, the man uttered a soft laugh. “That was my wife.”
Understanding dawned on Bailey. “But then, why didn’t you want to see her?” She had an idea, but she wanted to see what he said.
“She didn’t sign in, did she?”
His question brought Bailey up short. She looked behind her at the closed door, then back to the man.
“That’s what I thought.”
“I need to let Doctor Mathews know you’re awake,” Bailey told him, and reached for the pager on her pant-waist. But the man stopped her with a gentle pressure from his hand. “You really should be asleep,” Bailey continued. “You’ll heal faster that way.”
The man nodded. He seemed resigned. “I know,” he murmured, and closed his eyes.