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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

The Carletonian

Reform Medical Transport

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On Wednesday, February 11th, I woke up feeling feverish, weak, and dizzy after having a nasty sore throat the night before. Unbeknownst to me, I had a severe bacterial infection in my throat that would send my white blood cell count to nearly twice the normal limit and would deplete my body of water and salt, sending my heart into tachycardia and sending me into the emergency room and later to the hospital. At the time, though, I didn’t know any of that. I just knew that I felt awful and needed to go to the Student Health and Counseling center, so I made an appointment right away.

My next task was getting over to the SHAC. I live in Cassat Hall, which is on the opposite side of campus from the health center, and while the temperature was between twenty and thirty degrees, the wind was gusting at about twenty miles per hour, according to the weather archives of I felt too weak to safely walk over there, especially given the weather and the fact that I was alone, but I was convinced that Carleton Security would give me a ride over there in this extenuating circumstance. Unfortunately, I was wrong.

When I called to ask if someone could give me a ride over to the SHAC, I got a curt, “We don’t really do that.” “I’m feverish, and I feel weak, faint, and dizzy,” I pleaded. The security officer responded, “Well, see if you can find a friend to take you over, and if not, then call back.” I didn’t want to go knocking on every door on my floor to see if someone would come with me to the SHAC, so I walked over alone, keeping my mom on the phone in case I felt worse. Perhaps I should have pestered the officer more or tried to scrounge up a floor- mate, but I don’t think the blame for my solo walk in the cold while very sick rests solely with me. I got the impression from the security officer that this is a general policy, an impression that was only confirmed by another friend who said that security would not take her where she needed to go when she had a broken ankle and could not walk.

At the SHAC, it became clear that I was very, very sick, but it was unclear whether or not my sickness was a true emergency. It was starting to look like one, though: I had a fever of nearly 102 and a pulse rate in the 140’s for reasons that were still unknown. They kept me in the office under observation for awhile, and I drank water and ate food. By afternoon, though, I still wasn’t feeling better, so they gave me vouchers for the Northfield taxi service to go to the emergency room. They determined that I needed to go to the E.R. at about 2:45, and the taxi did not arrive until 3:45, and I did not arrive at the emergency room until 4 PM. This delay occurred despite the fact that I arrived at the SHAC at 10:00 AM. and was determined to be emergency room material at 2:45.

Fortunately, I am doing much better. The doctors did an amazing battery of tests, and they did not find anything serious aside from the bacterial infection that started my illness. However, they very easily could have. Words like “sepsis,” “Lyme’s disease,” and “heart inflammation” were tossed around. Frankly, I was terrified. And frankly, I was also disappointed that Carleton’s medical transportation system did not serve me well when I needed it most.

I suspect that students who are in a very clear emergency situation or who just need a little checkup will be served well by Carleton’s medical transport system. An ambulance would work well for the former situation, and a taxi would would work well for the latter. But what about the situations in the middle of those two extremes? What about people like me who need to get to medical help quickly but are not, say, hemmorhaging blood? I believe that Carleton needs to change their policies so that students who may be in emergency situations that are less overt have swifter transportation to the medical services that they need.

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