By Bob Emery
As you drive north on I-15 through Escondido, you cannot miss the massive edifice to the west that looms over the Auto Park and everything else in that area.
For months, people conjectured as to the identity of the structure: Nuclear power plant? A new City Hall? Alas, it was the new Palomar Medical Center rising to meet the health needs of North County citizens, and maybe the world.
As the structure grew, I always wanted to tour the facility in some way, likely at a ribbon cutting or open house. I got my chance on Sunday, Feb. 17, but not in any way I expected. I entered through the very bowels of this medical behemoth, from the back of an ambulance, strapped to a gurney.
Where’s the ribbon cutting, the punch and cookies? Oh, I get an IV instead. Is that lemonade or vodka? A solution for hydrating you say, cheers!
As you can no doubt tell, I was a less than enthusiastic guest of Palomar due to an incident that occurred earlier in the day. While volunteering at the state park visitors center in Borrego Springs I had a couple of fainting spells and my supervisors called the paramedics. After some deliberation and tests, it was determined to transport me to Palomar Medical Center. Now I drive out to the desert several times a month, but not flat on my back in an ambulance with a paramedic who is super attentive and determined to meet my every need. My hat is off to the Borrego Springs Fire Department paramedics, they were great. But I digress, this is about Palomar Medical Center.
After admission, I was placed in a private room with a very wide door in the emergency ward. No curtains that we see in TV dramas, each patient is in their own room. I received a wrist band with my own bar code that was used to record absolutely every move I made until I was discharged. Every pill, blood test, probe, X-ray, sonogram and more was preceded by the use of a bar code reader. I felt like groceries.
The place is extremely efficient and well run. The staff that worked with me was very professional and diligent. They made certain that I never slept more than an hour or so between blood pressure tests, IV changes, glucose tests and so many more. Each visit ended by a cheery “Get some rest now.”
The building is massive. It was designed so that no location is ever closer than five miles to the nearest elevator. When wheeled around on a gurney for various tests, I got to know the attendants well, we spent so much time together. I am certain that there are dozens of people permanently roaming the halls trying to find their way out.
The diversity of the staff is a reflection of today’s America. An East Indian doctor, an RN from the Philippines by way of Hawaii, an African-American who administered my sonograms, another doctor with a Russian name, and many others, including white guys and gals like me. The staff was great. I would not hesitate to be treated there again.
As for me, we are still looking for the cause of my “dive in the desert” but I am feeling fine as I write this piece.
Reach Emery at Powaybob@cox.net.