After fielding an impatient call from his supervisor, Dr Lyons, Daniel decided it was high time he dumped the chart into more capable hands - such as the nurses' - and get to his own part of the hospital. When he explained his intentions to the attendant at the postop nurse station, however, she disinterestedly remarked that he would have to go up to the psych ward's nurse station.
More by coincidence than deliberate effort, he had never been on a psychiatric rotation and as such had never been to the psych ward. It was illogically set high in the hospital on the fifth floor, which was otherwise devoted to administration staff. Its positioning, however, was in line with the original design of the building, which isolated this ward from the rest of the hospital via a system of heavy doors. The purpose of this sealed ward was unknown, since the hospital had stood empty for a time in between its current state and its early incarnation. Locks on the windows and nice calming blue walls were all that was considered necessary to make the ward into a place of psychiatric healing.
He was buzzed in by a woman sitting at a desk just inside the main doors. She smiled brightly at him as he walked awkwardly inside. To his surprise, there seemed to be a lot of activity, despite the hour being so late it was early.
"Thank goodness," the woman said. "I'm so bored! Please tell me you're a patient here to check in."
Daniel glanced down at his street clothes and shuffled his feet. "Actually, I'm a pediatrics fellow," he explained for the second time in half an hour. People seemed to have a lot of trouble believing he was a doctor today. "I've got a chart for you."
"Oh? Well, that is exciting. I suppose I can forgive you for being a physician." She reached out for the chart. "Where's the patient?"
"As far as I know, in surgery," he answered. When she raised an eyebrow he continued, "Apparently he's from Wickthorn and postop can't handle him."
"Hmm," she murmured noncommittally, leafing through the chart for a few moments. Abruptly she glanced up at Daniel. "Stuart Black? Like the millionaire?"
"Maybe they're relatives," Daniel offered. She obligingly chuckled, standing up while still studying the chart as if seeking the truth of the universe.
Sticking out a hand without lifting her gaze, she said, "I'm Dr Filmore, but everyone around here calls me Erica."
"Oh." Daniel shook her hand, embarrassed that he had assumed she was a nurse. He had never known a doctor to be on admission duty before. "I'm Daniel Roehl."
Erica allowed the chart to fall shut, sighing theatrically. "Psychotic depressive. You don't see that much, thank God. But I guess I did ask for interesting." She glanced sidelong at him. "I am curious about why they have a pediatrics fellow running messages."
"I happened to be there when the, uh, patient started…" He paused, trying to think of a medical way to describe "chucking a Grudge". "Well, I think he ripped his stitches."
The psychiatrist nodded thoughtfully, her eyes wandering over the chart once more before the buzzer sounded. She bent forward, looking through the glass at a waving nurse. "That could be him now, I suppose," she said to Daniel as she pressed the door release and the double doors cracked open.
For the first time, Daniel laid eyes on the patient who had so disrupted the start of his shift. He was surprised to see that the patient's eyes were cracked slightly open, a glimpse of glassy grey irises under bruised lids. At a glance, this patient looked no healthier than any of his patients in the final stages of leukaemia, and Daniel could almost believe the patient was young enough to fall under pediatric care.
"Why don't you come back and visit," Erica suggested, as Daniel's pager startled him into the guilty realisation that he was now very late for his shift. "See us when we're all awake," she added, yawning theatrically and handing the chart to the nurse pushing the gurney.
Daniel smiled politely, not willing to say that he felt it extremely unlikely.