Take Five: Patching them up is expected

I walked in the emergency room of Verdugo Hills Hospital for the second time in 25 years. This time, thank goodness, my visit was to talk with Dr. David Tashman, the co-director of this ER.

The reception room was spotless and had a fresh, clean scent. I might have sniffed rubbing alcohol, but only because I think all hospital waiting areas should smell like medical clinics. And my memories of my dad’s medical office always involved some doctor-type aroma.

I waited about five minutes, leafing through magazines that were five to six years old. No criticism intended. But old periodicals are a kind of a reverse metaphor for the intense and up-to-date care every human being receives here.

During his 14-year tenure at the Verdugo Hills hospital, Tashman has seen thousands of patients. Experience is a great teacher, but every case is different, and the doctor remarked that he has never seen the exact same problems recur.

He scoffed at the type A personalities usually depicted in ER situations and commented that professionals who are type B are better suited to work in emergency departments. “There’s no yelling and carrying on in our ER.”

If you took Tashman outside of his domain you would quickly discern that this man is a doctor. For one thing, he listens. He looks you square in the eyes. He’s taking stock of what’s going on inside of you. He sports a neat goatee and a calm demeanor. You get a sense that this man is a dedicated healer and a capable administrator as well.

“I can’t imagine that the day will come that I say, ‘OK, now I’ve seen everything,’“ he commented. “Even the tragic train accident in Glendale a few years back, which sent 25 patients up here with all kinds of injuries, was a busy day for sure. We know our job and we performed perfectly without haste or tumult.”

Tashman, a man who knows how to take charge, does the thinking. He then directs traffic to his staff.

Dr. Tashman spent three years in internal medicine residency and almost three in emergency room residency. He’s been in the ER at Verdugo Hills Hospital since 1997.

“Last week we had a patient walk in with severe bronchitis. I examined him thoroughly and had the notion that something else was going on. His heart rate was above normal.

“We have a fully functioning lab in the hospital. We tested his blood and in less than one hour my suspicions were confirmed. He had a blood clot. We saved this man’s life. He had been walking around with a huge chance of a fatal heart attack.” Tashman paused. He seemed to be far away for a moment.

I could only think that when the emergency room is filled with people who may have scrapes and bruises, patching up these small problems is to be expected. Patching a heart is a different matter.

GENE PEPPER is a published author and writer. Contact him by email at gpep@aol.com or phone (818) 790-1990.

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