The nurse’s station

With keys in hand and baited breath, I unlocked the door to the “Health Center” (oh so holistic sounding) aka the first aid clinic or the nurse’s station. The door itself had a window with a curtain inside to allow for some privacy. The room I stepped into was about 10 feet wide and 18 feet long, painted white and with a bright ceiling light. Quite honestly, it was a pretty sweet set up.

To the immediate right was a sink and a counter top that had three glass canisters lined up on it. One was full of q tips, one with band aids, and one full of cotton balls. There was an otoscope in it’s recharger. Wow! An otoscope. That’s was cool. It was not often that an intensive care unit (ICU) nurse like myself had to look in a patient’s ear. Like, as in, never. I would have to remember how to use one of those babies, PDQ!

Above the counter was three cupboards. The first held thermometers and several types of colorful lotions. There was pink calamine lotion, light green Aloe Vera, dark green bug lotions (with and without DEET) and an assortment of sunscreens. We had sunscreen with SPF of 3, 4, 10, 15, 25, 50, 80 and 100. Oh and sunscreen with bug repellant. I figured they had that covered!

The second cupboard had mostly literature. I decided that I was gonna make room on this shelf for the various books I brought, including my joke book. The shelf had a dated first aid book (circa 1960, actually pretty fun to look at and you can buy a similar one here), and a PDR from 1982 (physician’s desk reference – a great and very large and very heavy reference for medications, and also a great tool for keeping very heavy doors propped open, squishing bugs, pressing wildflowers, using as a step stool, and braining malevolent intruders). There were also various prescription drug bottles for, as it turned out, the counselors (the medications would not be safe in the huts with 20 campers milling about so that makes sense). 

The third cupboard was kinda overwhelming! It was packed full of every kind of over the counter (OTC) medication you would think you might need and then a couple of prescription drugs. 

There was a huge bottle of ibuprofen (yes I would love some after windsurfing, thank you very much), Advil and Motrin. Do they not realize that these are all ibuprofen? Or did they just buy whatever was on sale? Likely the later is true. 

There was a bottle of acetaminophen capsules, Tylenol and Anacin in tabs, Tempra chewables, and tasty Tempra syrup. Again, five different versions of acetaminophen. 

There were antihistamines (also in tabs and syrup), a cough suppressant, decongestants, expectorants, Tums, Pepto Bismol, saline eye drops, antibiotic creams/lotions, dimenhydrinate for nausea in tabs, syrup and, yes, rectal suppositories (the prospect of inserting that into a camper’s bottom does not excite me!), Ex lax (oh boy!), and finally cough drops (piece of advice here: ditch ’em, toss ’em, lose ’em, give them to the counselors as candy…just get rid of them cuz these will be the only “candy” available to campers and you will become the “candy dealer”!). 

There was a huge bottle of prescription Amoxicillin capsules. That would be handy for various infections including ears, sinuses, strep throat and pneumonia which I guessed might all be possible issues at camp. Amoxicillin is also good for treating salmonella food poisoning which I prayed would not be an issue at camp and also anthrax which I also prayed would not be an issue! Giving out Amoxicillin would require me to get a doctor’s order first. So that would be a phone call to the ‘camp doctor’ (read: local emergency room doctor who volunteered to be available for assistance as needed). I noticed the camp doctor’s phone number posted on the bulletin board in the office. It had his home, cottage, work and cell phone number listed. God bless him! 

The other small prescription bottle was full of 30 codeine tablets which I assumed was for any painful injuries and maybe dysmenorrhea (agonizing menstrual cramps) and possibly for a dry cough. Wow! Having a narcotic in the nurse’s station…I was not sure how I felt about that!? Although there was a lock on this particular cupboard and I found the key on the lanyard. The office door was locked too, so that was reassuring. 

The drawers below the counter were full of dressing supplies including gauze, tapes, band-aids of various sizes, Kling wrap, ACE wraps for sprains or strains, wooden splints, slings and a soft cervical collar.

The cupboard below the sink had cleaning supplies, a huge jug of antiseptic cleanser, and a massive jug of hydrogen peroxide. Various feminine products are stacked up in there. There was also a basin which had scribbled on it “foot soaks ONLY”. Hmmm…I wondered how much of that was going to be going on. Seemed kinda weird. I shrugged and move on.

To the left of the sink was four drawers. A piece of tape on each of the drawer fronts was labeled for each of the camper’s huts. At this point they were empty but I guessed they will be for their prescription meds from home.

On the right side of the room was a small antique looking wooden desk. The bulletin board above on the wall had various notes pinned to it including a home made recipe for treating resistant strains of lice. I physically cringed when I read the title. Ewww! Without thinking I scratched my head. There was a home-made (or more likely camp-made) ceramic pencil holder full of black pens, red pens, pencils and a pen light. The desk had two 3 ringed binders sitting open upon it. I flipped through the pages in the first binder. It was a record of medications administered to campers during their two week stay. The second binder included a day by day running account of campers who had come to the nursing station with various complaints. Huh! This would be interesting to look at more closely later. It would give me some idea as to what to expect. I made a mental note to take this one to my room that night and have a closer look.

To the left of the desk was a large four foot tall gun metal grey set of drawers. This was full of file folders with health forms for all the campers for every session during the summer. On top of the drawers were four beaten up first aid kits. One of the kits was actually covered in dried mud smears. Tucked in between the drawers and the wall was a spinal board with a head restraint. OK, another piece of equipment that I hoped I would never have to use. Looking at it made my stomach lurch just a bit and I swallowed back the sesame teriyaki chicken. 

The far wall had a window that looked out over the kitchen and the north end of the peninsula and the lake. Two chairs sat up against the wall.

The left side of the room had a huge old examination table up against the wall. It was one of those tables that you probably have sat on in your family doctor’s office in a green gown, freezing, waiting to be seen, with the crepe paper stuck to your butt. Sound familiar? This sucker was enormous and weighed a ton (I know cuz I tried to move it once). It was complete with stirrups. That was disturbing! I could only think of two things that would require using those stirrups, and neither of those situations had better present themselves at camp! I vowed that I would personally drive an ambulance, sirens on, into the closest ER to transport a camper before I will ever use those stirrups! 

Tucked in behind the nurse’s station door was a squeegee mop and a stack of crutches of various sizes. They looked pretty beaten up but still serviceable. I pick up one of the crutches to examine the padding which looks like it is crumbling. In doing so, I knocked the crutches down like a pack of dominoes. This would not be the first time that this happened!

After I scrambled to pick up the crutches, and carefully re-stacked them three times, I took a deep breath. Hands on my hips, I nodded to myself. Right! I had a little bit of studying and organizing to do! I was going to have 80 campers descend on me tomorrow. So…I immediately got to work.


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