July 27, 2021

ER 9.3, Insurrection: No, Really, Hospital Security Is a Joke

Posted in TV tagged , , , , , at 4:57 pm by Jenn

Is this why this guy was on “Oz”?

Summary: It’s another crazy day in the ER, made all the more fun by a homeless man who’s singing “how you doin’?” to people to the tune of “Rock Me Amadeus.” That would get old really fast. Weaver blames Susan for the backup in seeing patients, but Susan says she’s doing the best she can, and Weaver’s welcome to see if she can do better. The only thing they agree on is that Harkins needs to take How You Doin’ Guy outside. Weaver says she’ll see if another hospital can take some of their overflow patients.

Things are so busy that Abby has to call her brother, Eric, to cancel their lunch plans. She tells him to page her and they’ll reschedule for dinner. Meanwhile, Carter is trying to deal with a patient who insists Carter is trying to kill him. Security is taking their sweet time coming to help. Apparently they’ve been spending most of their time ticketing staff members’ cars. As Susan and Carter discuss how to get the stickers off, then how to get blood out of suede, Carter’s patient wrecks his exam room. The doctors just ignore him. How You Doin’ Guy comes up and asks Susan how she’s doin’. “Groovy,” she replies.

Elsewhere, Pratt tries to impress Chen by showing her an x-ray from a patient who got a vibrator stuck inside him – a vibrator that’s still vibrating. Chen isn’t moved. She once had a patient who got a bowling pin stuck inside him. A patient named Mr. Mullen complains to Pratt that he’s in a lot of pain from a slipped disc and needs a painkiller shot. Like Chen, Pratt isn’t moved. Mullen comes in all the time asking for Demerol, so Pratt is sure he’s just a drug-seeker.

The head of security, I guess, comes to the ER to basically tell Susan and Weaver to stop calling. They’re understaffed and have had a bunch of turnover. Plus, the guys who stay only get $10 an hour. That sounds like a you problem, security guy. You’re not providing the service you’re supposed to provide. Fix it. Carter tells Pratt to get rid of Mullen as he and Harkins take on a new patient, a young prostitute who won’t give her name (it’s Tina. I don’t play this nameless game). A john ran her over with his car.

Susan, Abby, and Gallant tend to a man named Phillip who fell out of bed in his long-term-care home and hurt his hip. This is pretty impressive since he has end-stage Huntington’s and isn’t really mobile. Susan tells Abby that Luka’s been asking for her; she was supposed to come assist him 45 minutes ago. Abby’s day is so busy that she’s an hour and 45 minutes behind on her tasks. Susan comments that this will just make Luka more upset than he already was. Abby’s clueless about the fact that he’s unhappy that she’s dating Carter.

Carter asks Abby to get Tina a detox bed. She’s only 12, but on top of being a prostitute, she’s also addicted to cocaine. Carter suggests that he, Abby, and Eric all go out for dinner that night. Pratt observes while Harkins tries to remove the vibrator from the guy who decided to see how far he could insert it. Poor Harkins.

Abby finally joins Luka, who’s gone ahead with whatever she was supposed to help him with. His patient tried to vacuum out her period. You can…do that? Well, you shouldn’t – it could lead to very serious complications. The patient sees this as a blow against the patriarchy. I’m surprised she agreed to be treated by a male doctor. Abby and Luka keep their conversation with each other short and professional.

Stella is back, and Gallant deals with her again while a nurse named Kathy gets annoyed with Luka. It’s pretty clear that they slept together and she’s not happy with the way things ended. Abby asks Luka if he’s okay, but I don’t think he wants to tell her how he feels about her moving on with a guy he doesn’t really like.

Carter tells Tina that she has an abscess thanks to an STD. Tina finally tells him her name, and he advises her to stop smoking crack if she wants to live past 12. He offers to get her a detox bed, but Tina knows that won’t fix her whole life. Carter thinks she should start with the first step. He also threatens to keep all the money she came in with until she agrees to treatment. Okay, that can’t be legal. Tina says Carter doesn’t know what life is like for her, but he says it’s not too late for her to turn things around and have a normal life.

Carter ignores a man trying to get his attention so he can tell Gallant to get rid of Stella again. She needs to stop coming to the ER like Gallant is her personal doctor. Carter finally pays attention to the man, who he realizes is Eric. In the waiting room, Mullen is getting agitated, since he’s been waiting four hours to be seen. He’s especially mad when Abby ditches him to greet Eric. Carter tells Mullen that Pratt is just concerned that he’s building up a tolerance to Demerol.

Eric asks if the ER is like this every day. Mullen says that, yes, he’s in pain every day, and yes, every time he comes in, the doctors don’t want to help him. He thinks that if he came in wearing a suit and tie, he’d get treated sooner. Pratt gives him a prescription and tells him to leave, but Mullen doesn’t want his offer of Vicodin. He yells that the doctors must think they’re heroes, but they’re not doing anything or helping anyone. He kicks over a row of seats, knocking some poor injured man to the ground. Carter tells Mullen to get out.

Abby takes Eric to the lounge, where they discuss Maggie, who’s doing well. She got a dog with a vitamin deficiency that requires a special diet. Maggie cooks him bacon and eggs every morning. Eric’s hopeful that this time, Maggie will stay stable. He apologizes for not showing up for her last crisis, but Abby forgives him. As she gets summoned back to work, she tries to make dinner plans with Eric, but he doesn’t have much time in Chicago. He’s been reassigned and has to report to his new Air Force base in the morning.

Abby interrupts the conversation to find and deliver a baggie of fingertips to Chen. (Two neighbors tried to trim their hedges by holding a lawn mower in the air.) Unfortunately, the tips are all mixed together in the same bag. As a guy who’s probably Tina’s pimp arrives and demands her clothes, Eric tells Abby that he’s now going to be stationed in Nebraska, which will mean he’s closer to both Abby and Maggie. With all the craziness Abby is dealing with during this whole conversation, answering questions from staff and patients, she tells Eric her job is similar to his as an air-traffic controller. He offers to wait for her somewhere else so she can get back to work.

Phillip’s mother, Mrs. Burke, has arrived, feeling horrible that the home she placed him in didn’t give him high-quality care. Chen and Pratt sort fingertips while Abby searches for Eric. She questions Pratt’s decision to give one guy an extra thumb. Carter joins them, and Chen says they’re playing a match game. “Pratt’s having a little trouble fingering it out,” Abby quips. She’s so proud of herself!

Carter thinks Tina’s been admitted to detox, but Abby hasn’t gotten her a bed yet. Frank tells them that she left with some guy. Abby apologizes for not realizing that the guy with Tina shouldn’t have been there. Thanks to security’s shortcomings, people can just wander around the ER and do whatever they want. Suddenly, Frank realizes that something’s going on nearby, and he quietly draws Carter’s attention to it.

Mullen has returned and grabbed Chen. He’s holding a gun to her head to try to force Pratt to give him a shot of Demerol. Pratt calmly tells everyone in the exam area to stay still. He sends Abby to the drug lock-up to get Demerol. As she gets it, she whispers to a clueless Harkins to call the police. Mullen complains again that no one at the hospital cares, but Pratt says they do now. Yeah, and it only took a gun held to a doctor’s head to do the job.

Mullen boasts that he’s the one in charge now. Usually the doctors get to decide who’s in pain and who isn’t, but today, he gets to make the decisions. Carter looks on helplessly as Mullen points his gun at Abby, asking to see the label on the bottle she’s brought back. Eric comes in, worried about his sister, and Abby tells him to stay back. Carter tries to get Mullen to put down the gun, but he refuses.

As Abby injects Mullen, he asks Pratt why he wanted to be a doctor. Pratt admits that it was partly for the money; the rest is complicated. Mullen can’t believe he really wanted to help people. Or maybe all the doctors there did, but then they realized there are too many people to help. Mullen lets Chen go, creepily kisses Abby on the temple, thanks her, and heads out. He turns back, pointing his gun at Pratt, and yells at him to remember it for next time. Then he just walks out of the ER.

…But he doesn’t get far, because Abby gave him a ton of Demerol and knocked him out. Weaver tells Gallant to get him a bed (with restraints) and call psych. We’ll see if they get there faster than security. Carter thinks Abby should take a break, but she says she’s fine. He asks Weaver about the metal detectors that were once supposed to be set up in the ER. She tells him there’s a security plan in the works.

Eric checks on Abby, wondering how she can keep working in a place like this. Maybe she does this because she’s self-destructive. Abby insists that she’s happier than she’s been in a long time. He asks about her previous plan to go to med school, but she doesn’t have time to chat. (Besides, going to med school doesn’t guarantee her safety, especially if she ends up working at County again.) She tells him she won’t have time for dinner and wishes him a safe trip.

In the lounge, Carter is fighting with Weaver about how money shouldn’t be an excuse for lax security. Metal detectors were supposed to be installed two years ago, so she can’t blame recent budget cuts for the fact that they’re not there. Weaver notes that metal detectors have to be manned, which means hiring people, which means more money.

Carter demands more security stat. Weaver tells him to just focus on clearing the board, but Carter yells that he can’t do that. They’re so busy that he barely had two minutes to spend with a 12-year-old prostitute/crack addict. Her pimp was able to just walk in and leave with her. Weaver tries again to make excuses, but Carter shouts that she needs to fix this. After he storms off, Weaver weakly tells the rest of the staff to just treat their patients.

Pratt praises Carter for at least trying to do something. Carter digs out the Yellow Pages and starts looking for a security company so he can order metal detectors. Meanwhile, Susan fills Elizabeth in on what happened. I’m sure Elizabeth wishes she’d stayed in England. Phillip is declining, and he’ll need to be placed on a ventilator so he can breathe. Mrs. Burke knows that once he’s intubated, he’ll never come off the machine.

Carter orders metal detectors, then tells Gallant again to get rid of Stella. Weaver hangs up the phone and chastises him for ordering six detectors instead of letting the procurement department handle things. This isn’t Carter’s job, and he doesn’t want it. He argues that they shouldn’t have to risk their lives to work there. Weaver gets that, but they have to be responsible about how they handle big purchases. Carter says the irresponsible thing was letting this go on for so long.

Weaver tells him that she’s been working on this for months while Carter just saw patients. He can’t get involved now. Carter announces that he’s going to the ambulance bay to wait for the detectors arrive. After a few moments, Abby goes to join him. Frank follows next, along with some nurses. Weaver tries to reason with Luka, who says they have patients to care for, but he thinks Carter’s right. He joins the walk-out, asking Carter if he has a plan. Carter smiles a little and says no. Yeah, you’re adorable and this is a hilarious situation.

Pratt goes to get a snack from a vending machine in a quiet hallway and finds Chen there, trying to calm herself. He offers to buy her M&Ms and makes small talk with her, for once trying to do more than just flirt with her. He’s sorry that Chen got dragged into a dangerous situation. Pratt didn’t want to give drugs to an addict, but he would never do anything to put Chen’s life at risk. She’s his future love slave. Ew. He was doing well until then.

Pratt says he gets a little punchy when he’s scared, but Chen thinks she has more reason to be scared, since she almost “had a cap busted in [her] head.” Pratt laughs at her, as he should. He tries to hug her, and though she resists, she eventually lets him comfort her. When she feels better, she asks for her M&Ms. Then they notice through the window that people are standing in the ambulance bay and wonder if there’s been an evacuation.

Abby thinks Carter should address the people who have walked out with them. When Pratt and Chen join them and ask what’s going on, Abby tells them to “talk to Norma Rae.” Carter says they’re not working until they have more secure conditions. Weaver comes outside and announces that anyone who’s not on a scheduled break is in violation of their work contract and in danger of being fired. Carter notes that the contract promises to provide them with a safe working environment. Weaver replies that they’re already taking steps to make sure what happened today doesn’t happen again.

Luka reminds Weaver that she always says they’re working on something, but the staff never sees any changes. Weaver doesn’t think this is the best way to try to solve the problem. An ambulance arrives and Gallant starts to bring the patient into the ER, but Carter yells at him not to. Weaver points out that Gallant is a student; he can’t be fired, but he can be failed. Carter stares Gallant down, daring him to cross the picket line. Gallant backs down and joins the walk-out.

Susan is still working, and she tells Mrs. Burke it’ll be a while until they can get Phillip a bed. Mrs. Burke tells her that he was an opera singer before he got sick. She prayed that he wouldn’t develop Huntington’s, and she thought her prayers had been answered, since he got to age 29 without developing any symptoms. But the disease took everything from him, including his voice.

Susan goes outside, but just to ask Abby for more lab work for Phillip. She acknowledges the walk-out but wants to keep treating patients. Carter thinks the walk-out will force people to pay attention, which will allow them to get back to their patients. As an opera song plays, Mrs. Burke watches Phillip sleep. Carter argues with Susan about how they should handle the sucky healthcare system. He can’t put up with it anymore.

Mrs. Burke looks at Phillip’s monitors as Carter reminds Susan that a staff member was murdered on duty and no one did anything about security. (I would argue that the problem goes all the way back to Mark’s assault.) Carter just wants to protect everyone who comes into the hospital. It’s way too easy to get a knife or gun through the doors. Mrs. Burke turns off Phillip’s ventilator and gives him a little embrace.

Carter and Susan keep arguing about the best way to deal with the situation. Carter says they have to make a move today; otherwise, there’s no point in trying. Susan says she’s more focused on today’s patients than tomorrow’s. She heads back inside, and Abby gets up to follow her. She turns toward Carter first, and he nods, as if she needs his permission to do her job. Susan returns to Phillip’s trauma room and realizes that Mrs. Burke has turned off the ventilator. Susan turns it back on without saying a word. Phillip has coded, and when Abby comes in, both women pretend it happened naturally.

The strikers have probably been outside for hours, since it’s night now. Carter still has no plans or any idea what’s going to happen. Weaver pulls him aside to tell him that the metal detectors will be arriving soon, and they’re working on hiring a new security firm. They’ll also be putting some security measures in the waiting room.

Carter thanks her for her work, but the only thanks she wants is a clear board. She warns that Carter will probably have to face a disciplinary board. Also, since they need money for the new measures, they’ll have to either fire three senior nurses or cancel lab and x-ray services after 10 p.m. Carter gets to make the decision, since he forced the move. He chooses to fire the nurses, and Weaver takes it a step further by telling him to choose who has to go. Carter doesn’t share these details with the strikers, just letting them know a deal has been reached.

Chen wants to go back to work, which is pretty amazing. She sends Pratt home, since his shift ended hours ago. Romano appears just long enough to yell at Carter for playing Spartacus and leaving the ER short-handed. Carter laughs because a guy who had his arm reattached made a joke using the word “hand.” Yeah, you definitely want to laugh at Romano. That’s always a good move. Romano’s annoyed that he had to take over scut work, and he doesn’t want Carter to pull a stunt like this again.

Harkins apologizes to Carter for not joining the walk-out – Weaver cornered her and gave her a speech about what it means to be a doctor. Carter tells her she’ll have to figure that out herself. Leon arrives, saying he’s looking for a doctor, and Carter sends him to the waiting room. Gallant is still dealing with Stella, by the way. Leon comes back to the admit desk, again asking for a doctor, so Frank calls for security. Yeah, because the guys who didn’t show up when there was a hostage situation are definitely going to handle Leon, who’s doing nothing wrong.

Gallant tries to talk to Leon, who’s getting more agitated. A couple of security guards who decided to finally do their job today grab Leon and wrestle him to the floor as he asks for someone named G. Gallant eventually gets Leon to say that he’s looking for Pratt. Carter’s shift was supposed to be over hours ago, but he’s going to honor Weaver’s wishes and stay until he clears the board. Harkins has become his pet student, so I think she’s staying as well. “So you’ve decided to die here,” Susan quips to Carter. Not a great joke for a guy who did almost literally die on the job a couple years earlier.

Abby, Chen, and Susan decide to go out and have some fun. Well, really, the other two are going to force Abby to go out with them. Abby again looks at Carter like she needs him to approve of her plans. Susan calls her out on it this time. She gets Phillip’s doctor on the phone and lets him know that Phillip was treated in the ER but died. She’s going to bypass the coroner and have the body released to the mortuary. Looks like Mrs. Burke’s secret is safe with Susan.

Gallant takes Leon home, learning along the way that Leon moved in with Pratt and his mother when he was nine. Leon isn’t sure what happened to his family, and he doesn’t care – Pratt is his family. Pratt is annoyed that Leon went out by himself and got lost. He barely thanks Gallant for making sure Leon got home safely.

How You Doin’ Guy is back in the ER. Can’t security tackle him, too? The metal detectors arrive, and Frank lets Carter sign for them. How You Doin’ Guy is the first to walk through one. At a club, Abby and Susan talk about how Susan’s having trouble finding a nice guy to date. She got stood up for tonight, but Abby thinks the guy would have turned out to be boring anyway. A waitress brings Susan a drink and asks if Abby wants one, but Abby says no. Chen, meanwhile, is crowd-surfing. It’s a strange way to deal with the trauma of the day, but it makes her happy.

Thoughts: Mrs. Burke is played by Shirley Knight. Eric is played by Tom Everett Scott.

Abby calling Carter “Norma Rae” is both accurate and an inside joke, since Norma Rae was played by Sally Field.

This is the first time I can see Pratt’s leadership potential. I’m sure Carter wanted to swoop in and deal with Mullen, but I think he was right to mostly let Pratt handle things. Otherwise, Mullen might have felt outnumbered and done something really stupid.

I also appreciate Carter taking a stand, but this wasn’t the way to do it. This just punished the patients. Forcing Gallant to strike was also inappropriate. And it would have been nice if Carter had shown more concern for Chen, his longtime friend, after she had a gun put to her head. He made it about the principle of the matter rather than the fact that people he knew and cared about were traumatized.

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