paid. My work location was on the surgical ward. When I found out that would be working on the
surgical ward. I stop eating red meat. Because I couldn’t stomach eating bloody red meat and going to clean red bloody surgical rooms. Walter Pickens and I worked the swing shift, (3:00pm – 11:00pm.) We had to change into surgical green uniforms and shoe covers before going in to any surgical rooms.
When we came to work there would be one or two rooms where surgery was in progress. So we had to check all four rooms that needed to be clean. This was an easy 8 hour shift. You may wonder why it took two guys to do one or two hours of work. Because no surgical room could be left unclean over night. There was the possibility contaminated blood left for only a few hours could infect the next patient in that surgical room. If Walter or I was sick and couldn’t come to work the other one would have to be there Monday – Friday. Or no emergency surgery could be schedule without Walter or I were there.
I had been on the job about two months. When our supervise came to tell Walter and I that emergency surgery was schedule for after hours that evening. And that one of us had to stay, scrub and get ready to be one of the surgical team. Walter said,” I am not staying.” Being the newbie I had to stay as the “Young Doc” in surgery.
Hospital regulation stated there had to be five or more on any surgical team during all operations. And each one had to be listed by name on the surgical report. There were only
two doctors and two nurses. They couldn’t list me as a janitor as part of the surgery team. So I was listed as Dr. Jason A Lewis Jr.
The patient was a farm labor from Mexico that had stepped on a rusty nail. And gangrene had set in on his lift foot. He had three amputations, starting with his left foot, and progress up to his thigh. It was the amputation that I was a member of the surgical team. One nurse said, “Dr. Lewis you are the youngest member of any surgical team. At only 19 years old.” After that night my co-workers call me “Doc.”
During surgery I was an observer; which last for about three and half hours. Doctor Jones said, “Dr. Lewis you can do the next amputation.” And I said, ” no problem Doc.” After surgery I had to take the thigh that had been wrap up in brown paper and place it in the morgue and into the freezer. I carried it under my arm against my side. Degrading had set in and the thigh had heated up more than my body temperature. It felt like a warm ham against my side. Then I had to go back and clean the surgical room.
When I came to work that next day. I wanted to know how our patient was doing. I was told the he had pass that same night, before I came to work. I didn’t know him personally but,I felt that we had fail to save his life. He waited too long to come the hospital for treatment on his foot.
Surprisingly this surgical report follow me when I went into the army, (1964). When it came time to choose my advance training career with the army. I was asked if I would to be a medic, because of my experience in surgery. That I would be given a promotion and a pay upgrade after my training was complete. I said, “no I had enough paying doctor. And wanted to go into the signal corps. So much for the “Young Doc.”
- Communications Training, Surgical Checklist Can Reduce Costly Postoperative Complications (medicalnewstoday.com)