Tonight I watched an old friend pass away. HHER is dead. I was there for its last hours, watching the last patients get checked in, treated, and finally discharged. I discharged the last patient ever from HHER at 12:20 am, February 24, 2010. We looked at each other and said "Call it." "Time of death, 0020".
It still doesn't seem real. It just doesn't seem possible that the place I was born, the place I've worked at for so long is gone. I'll never drive there wondering if I should be good and park in the employee parking lot or if I should sneak into the parking garage instead. I spent several hours packing up the equipment we're taking to the new hospital, standing in the ambulance garage hosing off the beds and stools. When I left there were about a dozen people boxing up equipment and taking monitors off the walls. It feels like a bad dream.
This shift really felt like a death watch in a way I've never experienced before. I know we're moving to a new hospital. I should be happy to have a brand new facility. But something has been lost forever. HHER wasn't just a place, it was a family, an identity. Now we have been subsumed into "St. Elizabeth Emergency Department". We no longer have our home; we have to float back and forth between the original St. Elizabeth and the new "St. Elizabeth East". We will be mixed up with the staff of the other ER, will lose our feeling of being a family rather than just co-workers.
I kept it together pretty well tonight until I walked out the door and saw that while I was at work they had covered all of the Emergency Room signs with plaques saying "Emergency Department closed. Use Emergency Department St. Elizabeth Central". Then, I admit, I cried with one of my friends and we hugged for awhile.
Farewell, HHER. You will be missed.