Saturday, May 5, 2012

While You Were Sleeping There Was a Flood At Work

It’s not the first time that water has seeped into the hallways where I work. When it rains hard, the drains are overwhelmed and the entrances have to be sandbagged so the water doesn’t enter the building. One particular night, the water didn’t come from outside but from within. This is what happened at 1:45 in the morning.
                The end of the month is busier than usual for mental health workers because we have to do extra paperwork. I didn’t help that one of us was an hour late and didn’t inform the supervisor of this. We also admitted four patients and the last one happened to be mine. After I took her belongings to the lockers, I picked up another patient’s clothes from the dryer and brought it to his room. When I entered the room, I noticed that the floor was wet. I checked the bathroom but the water didn’t come from there. I went to the adjacent room and there was a lot more water. I thought maybe there was a leak coming from the toilet bowl. I exited the room and observed more water going into the room across the hallway. Well, the water wasn’t going into that room but coming from it because when I entered, I heard water running and checked the bathroom. Well, I found the source of the flood. One of the patients who apparently brushed his teeth and was probably half asleep or due to overmedication accidentally left a Styrofoam cup on top of the sink drain blocking it. The patient didn’t turn the water off completely so the water overflowed. I don’t know how long that has been going on since the person assigned to check those rooms hadn’t done so for awhile.
 The first thing I did of course was turn off the water. I let my coworkers know of the problem then went looking for a mop. The security guard opened the housekeeping department’s room for me and there a found a mop and bucket. By the time I brought it back to the unit, the Filipino Water Brigade comprised of three nurses (plus me) had already laid down some blankets to absorb the water. Funny how it turned out that the only people who showed up to help were the Flips and our charge nurse. The rest of the staff were unaware of what happened until I told them much later, because most of them where burrowed in their hiding places for the night. So anyway, I started absorbing the water with the mop then squeezing it in the bucket ad infinitum and the other nurses were doing the same with towels and squeezing the water into trash cans. Those with the towels were actually doing a better job soaking the water up than me with the mop. Another was laying more blankets and placing the already soaked ones in the dirty linen barrels. Even with all that effort, we didn’t appear to be making a dent on the amount of water on the floor. I told the charge nurse that we needed a wet vacuum and to please try calling the maintenance department at the main hospital a mile away. He finally did and soon enough, a maintenance guy showed up with his bag of tools. I told him that nothing needed fixing but we needed a wet vacuum cleaner badly. He left and a few minutes later came back with an industrial sized vacuum. His first attempt didn’t do anything. Then he noticed that the hose wasn’t connected to the machine and after he connected that, the machine just sucked the water cleanly off the floor. Not only did the machine do that, but it also dried the floor after sucking the water. Wow, it was quick and easy work compared to what we were trying to do initially and less back breaking. To put a positive spin on our hard work, I told the nurses to consider what we did a calorie burning workout. And get this, with all the racket we were making soaking up the water before, and later while the vacuum machine was working , the patients slept though it…and so did the rest of the staff.

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