Roomful of Pain

— "This is my first time at this ER. I just moved here, to Golden Hill, from El Centro. It's the same way there; they take forever. They need more doctors. There's a lot of patients; this room is full. I have five children, and my neighbor's watching them.

"I hope they can run some tests and find out what's wrong with my head. The nurses aren't too nice here. Some of them are rude. This emergency room is nice, but it's very slow."

Anthony Flach, 41, looks and sounds miserable. He speaks slowly, betraying the physical pain he has learned to live with. "I have kidney disease -- I've had it since '86. I came in for kidney stones. I've been here two and a half hours now. This is my fourth time in the last month.

"I came here on a Thursday night in September, two months ago. I was to fly out to England the following Tuesday. The doctor I saw didn't do anything. They did a UA, a urine test. He said, 'Yeah, you have kidney stones,' and I thought, Duhhh, I know that. Then he said, 'Okay, you can go.' I said, 'Aren't you going to do some tests like they usually do?' They usually do x-rays and different tests to look at the stones and see if they can get rid of them or what. He said, 'Oh, no. We're just going to send you home with pain pills.' He gave me a prescription and sent me away. I couldn't believe it -- he did nothing.

"Four days later, Monday, I came back with the same problem. By then, my fever was so high that I felt I had to come. I was going to England the next day, so I really didn't want to come to the hospital, but you know when it's serious. My fever was almost 105; 107 is dead. They said they were going to admit me, but I said, 'No! I'm getting on a plane tomorrow and I'm outta here.' If they were going to give me that first doctor, I would have just left. I didn't realize how sick I was until the next day when I got a real doctor and he explained it. He said he was going to follow up on this first doctor, and I'm going to follow up on him too. I've got a real good doctor now -- Dr. Keiller.

"All my other experiences have been good here. When I came in that Monday, they were excellent. I spent three days here, and they pumped me up with antibiotics, pain pills, and got rid of the infection so that I started feeling better. I think the ER here is good, and that's why I came back. But that one doctor...he basically came to my bedside, asked me how I was doing, left, and returned sounding so happy, like, 'Oh we're going to send you home with pain pills!' I thought, Isn't that wonderful! My problem is still here! That's not what I came here to pay hundreds of dollars for. I could go to another ER with my insurance, but I've got a good doctor here now. Very thorough. I'd highly recommend him to anybody."

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