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Season Thirteen: The Finality of it All

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Episode One: In With The New

"Jaegar? Jaegar, what the bloody hell is going on in triage? Sounds like a bloody zoo in there," muttered Frank, sifting through paperwork on his desk.

"We've got waiting times of seven hours, we're so close to calling a code red, and Operations just called with an MVA. Triage sounds like a zoo because it is a zoo," replied Gabrielle, frustrated, slamming a stack of paperwork on her own desk.

"Put Claire and Adam in there; they can clear through triage and empty out some beds while they're at it," suggested Frank.

"What a fabulous idea! If only Claire and Adam weren’t already in sub-acute trying to run a floor that is clearly understaffed. Charlotte's taking on twice the work required to keep this all running, Claire is on the verge of collapsing from exhaustion, Adam is struggling with a psych patient, and I can't even steal any of the MRU team because they don’t exist!" Exclaimed Gabrielle. Frank sighed before standing up, putting his paperwork aside.

"Alright, I'm coming. Where would you like me to start?" Asked Frank.

"Help Adam out with his psych patient in sub-acute four; he's terrorising the patients," responded Gabby, waving a hand in the general direction. Frank sighed, and headed across the ward as the ambulance bay doors slid open, ambulance attendant Bree perched atop a patient, vigorously performing CPR.

"He's been down for twenty minutes, pupils sluggish, non-responsive. We need someone to call it," said Bree breathlessly. Charlotte took over, checking all vitals before stepping back, checking her watch.

"He's definitely gone. Time of death 8:05am. Thanks Bree," said Charlotte quietly. Bree and her partner packed up their gear quietly, leaving Charlotte to run a weary hand through her hair.

"He's only nineteen," she said sadly.

"Alright, pack it up, there's more coming in," said Gabby, crossing over to the RESUS bay.

"I need a nurse in sub-acute four to take over," called Frank.

"Good luck with that Frank, unless it's urgent, it's not happening," responded Gabrielle, swapping out charts on a nearby bed, looking frazzled and tired.

“Well then, where’s Bart? He should be here!” Grumbled Frank.

“I’m here, I’m sorry,” said Bart, skidding into the cubicle. 

“Right. We’re short two nurses, so you’re on your own for a while. You just need to supervise this patient until psych calls and takes him up. You right with that?” Asked Frank, raising an eyebrow at him. Bart nodded.

“I’ll be fine. I’m sorry I’m late,” apologised Bart again.

“Don’t let it happen again.” Frank walked out of the cubicle, straight into a young male doctor and knocking him to the floor.

“I’m sorry, I wasn’t looking where I was going,” blustered the young man, picking himself up and dusting himself down.

“And who the hell are you?” Demanded Frank.

“Doctor Joseph Beaumont. Joey. I’ve transferred here from Perth. I spoke to admin this morning, and they sent me down here. I wasn’t sure who I was looking for, and no-one could tell me what was going on, so I…” flustered the young man.

“Well, you’ve met the head of emergency medicine now, so that’s one down. Charlotte!” Shouted Frank. She poked her head around the RESUS bay curtains.

“What do you want Frank?”

“I’ve got someone you can babysit for a while. He’s all yours.” Frank stomped away to deal with the incoming MVA as Charlotte walked towards him.

“Hi, I’m Charlotte, 2IC of the ED. Sorry about Frank, he’s usually a little more composed than that,” said Charlotte warmly, shaking Joey’s hand.

“It’s okay. The head of emergency in my last ED was a nightmare on legs; she was terrifying. Frank has nothing on her,” replied Joey nervously.

“Right. Well, we’re pretty thin on the ice today. Do you reckon you can handle triage and category four and five?” Asked Charlotte. Joey nodded.

“I think so. Point me in the direction you need me.” Charlotte led him through to the triage area, where Claire was trying to sift through a severe backlog of patients.

“Claire, this is Joey. Point him in the right direction for me please while I’m in RESUS?” Asked Charlotte.

“Yeah, sure. Hi Joey. Most of the patients we have here are fours or fives, but we do have a four that could become a three,” commented Claire, shuffling through the charts and handing one to Joey. He smiled nervously at her, checking her ID before remembering her name.

“Let’s do this Claire.”


During a brief lull in patients, Joey took a second to take in his surroundings, eyeing off the new job he’d finally landed and taking a moment for a coffee.

“You settling in okay?” Asked Charlotte, startling Joey as she appeared from behind, coffee in her own hand.

“Yeah, yeah, I’m doing well. Are things always this crazy?” Asked Joey, taking a sip of his coffee.

“No. We’re a little short in nursing staff today, so as doctors, we’ve got to be a little more independent,” replied Charlotte.

“How did you end up being short staffed?” Responded Joey curiously.

“Well, I know today that one of the nurses meant to start nightshift never showed, the other new paediatric nurse due to start today never showed, and one of the junior nurses is also a paramedic, and she was called in there before we called her, so we end up in this mess,” answered Charlotte. She drained her cup before placing it on the sink.

“Ready to head back out into the zoo?” She asked kindly. Joey nodded.

“Sure. So I’ve met Claire already; who are the other nurses on staff?” He asked, placing his cup in the sink before following Charlotte.

“Well, you’ve seen Gabby; she’s the NUM. We have mostly agency nurses at the moment, so we’ve got Lily, Amber and Jen covering. We’re waiting on Frank to sift through resumes with Gabby, and doing paperwork is not his forte. Hang on.” Charlotte paused for a moment before turning to Gabby, who was sorting paperwork at the staff base. “Hey Gabby, this is Joey; new doctor in the ED. I’m just doing a rundown on nurses in the unit, and I can’t remember the name of the new nurses that admin gave you. Can you?” Asked Charlotte, leaning on the edge of the staff base.

“Hang on, I think I’ve got it here; I’m about to give them a call and find out where the hell they are,” answered Gabby. She sifted through the folders on the desk before pulling out a slim folder. “Here it is. Ally De Luca is the paediatric nurse that didn’t show today, and her NUM in Paeds gave her an excellent reference, and the other is…Graeme Dineen? Gray Dineen. He’s just moved here from Perth, and his NUM there gave him a stellar performance review. Given that, I wasn’t expecting to have to pull a triple shift to deal with the fact they’re both not here,” grumbled Gabby. Joey felt his heart drop through the floor, and Charlotte noticed as his pallor visibly paled.

“Joey? Are you okay?” She asked quietly.

“I’ve just remembered; I’ve got to make a phonecall. I’ll be back in two seconds,” whispered Joey. He sprinted back to the common room, flinging open his locker and shuffling through his bag before pulling out his phone, dialling a number with shaking fingers. “Pick up. Please pick up,” he whispered, pleading that the person on the other end would answer.

“Hi, you’ve reached Gray Dineen. Sorry I can’t answer the phone right now, but if you leave a message after the tone, I’ll get back to you as soon as I can. Bye!” 

Hang up. Try again.

“Hi, you’ve reached Gray Dineen. Sorry I can’t answer the phone right now, but if you leave a message after the tone, I’ll get back to you as soon as I can. Bye!” 

Hang up. Try again.

“Hi, you’ve reached Gray Dineen. Sorry I can’t answer the phone right now, but if you leave a message after the tone, I’ll get back to you as soon as I can. Bye!” 

Hang up. Try again.

“Hi, you’ve reached Gray Dineen. Sorry I can’t answer the phone right now, but if you leave a message after the tone, I’ll get back to you as soon as I can. Bye!”

Joey didn’t bother leaving a message after the fourth call, instead slamming the phone on the table, clearly agitated. Charlotte knocked on the door, opening it a little.

“Are you okay?” She asked, peeking in.

“No. No, I’m not okay,” he ground out, trying to keep his voice as stable as possible.

“Do you need to talk?” Responded Charlotte, sidling into the common room.

“Not to you! Get out!” He exclaimed angrily. He strode forward and pushed her out just as Bree and Jane brought in a new patient.

“Twenty-six year old male, physical assault victim. Cops found him in the park, thought he was a druggie until they flipped him over and found his face practically caved in. Contusion to the head, potential broken wrist, bruising, lacerations, GCS of eleven, hasn’t changed since we picked him up. We found his wallet; his name is Graeme Dineen,” called Bree.

“No,” whispered Joey. He pushed past Charlotte, straight to the gurney they were wheeling into RESUS.

“That’s my nurse!” Exclaimed Gabby.

“What’s going on here?” Asked Frank, irritated at the sight of the new doctor pushing his way into the RESUS bay, unaware of the patient the ambulance service had just delivered to their ED.

“Gray? Gray, it’s Joey. I’m here,” whispered Joey, tears streaking down his cheeks, a gentle hand caressing Graeme’s cheek. Charlotte and Gabby stood, watching the interaction from a distance, inhaling sharply.

“No,” breathed Gabby.

“Yes,” answered Charlotte quietly.

“He’s gay?” Responded Gabby. Joey kissed Gray’s forehead, mindful of the injuries on his face.

“That’s a pretty solid answer, don’t you think?” Charlotte answered. She stepped into the RESUS bay, Gabby not far behind.

“I’m so sorry, I thought you made it to work,” sobbed Joey.

“Can you move for a second please Joey? I’ve got to do his vitals,” asked Gabby, trying to push her way around the young doctor. He snapped an arm out, preventing her from advancing any further. 

“No! I’m not letting you touch him; you’ll hurt him,” snarled Joey. Charlotte and Gabby looked taken aback as they moved away from Joey. Frank looked at the young doctor, and could feel the fear emanating off him, radiating through the room.

“Come on; Charlotte and Gabby are perfectly capable, and they’ll look after him, I promise. Come and sit down, before you pass out,” said Frank gently. Joey looked up at Charlotte and Gabby, and they could see the hurt and betrayal in his eyes; he’d never wanted this secret made so public. Frank led him out and into the common room, away from all the noise. Joey sat down on the lounge and broke down, sobbing into his knees. Frank took a seat in front of him, allowing him to vent his emotions before speaking.

“I never thought this would happen to him again, never wanted it to happen again,” gasped Joey.

“Thought what would happen again?” Asked Frank quietly, handing him a box of tissues

“I hoped that moving away from Perth would have kept him safe from this, but it didn’t. It’s not the first time he’s been attacked for being gay; we were both attacked outside of the hospital we last worked at because we were ‘openly gay’. I spent two weeks in intensive care last time before we were both asked to leave the hospital and find alternative employment. Gray started looking straight away, and found that All Saints was looking for ED nursing staff, and he applied. We moved from Perth two weeks later. We’ve only been here for three weeks, and this happens? He’s only just started to recover!” Exclaimed Joey.

“You don’t know that he was attacked because he was gay; it could have been anything,” responded Frank gently.

“And to top off a fantastic first day, I’ve also managed to out myself to the entire staff, and found out that the sister I’ve been trying to find for seven years is working in the same fucking ED as me, and I have no idea how to tell her, because she looks pretty happy without me interfering in her life,” snapped Joey, clearly at the end of his tether. A knock on the door had him cowering near the lockers, and Frank felt sorry for him, his past dredged up for all to see.

“Frank? Gray has come around a little; he’s asking for Joey,” called Gabby through the door. 

“Come on, let’s go see him, make sure we’re doing the best we can for him,” said Frank gently.

“You can’t say anything about my sister. I don’t care about the other stuff, but you can’t mention anything about her,” insisted Joey. Frank nodded.

“I won’t tell if you don’t want me to,” responded Frank kindly. Joey nodded, and squared himself up. Frank recognised it for what it was; Joey was mentally putting on the armour he’d need to survive the unkind words of staff and patients alike, making sure he’d be safe. Frank gave him a moment before walking out of the common room, Joey not far behind him.

“Joey,” gasped Graeme.

“Update,” ordered Frank. Charlotte glanced at Joey before looking at the patient chart.

“We’re waiting on a surgical consult and an orthopaedic consult and Radiology; it looks like he’s bleeding into his abdomen, but we’re not sure from where exactly…”

“His spleen. Situs Inversus Totalis,” responded Joey, sitting next to Graeme’s head and holding his hand carefully.

“Situs Inversus Totalis?” Questioned Charlotte.

“Mirrored organs. You can’t find the bleeding because he’s back to front. It was splenic bleeding last time, same symptoms and scans,” answered Joey quietly, not taking his eyes off his partner.

“Oh. It looks like he’s possibly fractured his wrist, but we’re waiting on Radiology to confirm before we get it sorted, so for now, we’ll leave it with the backslab, and see what the scans say,” answered Charlotte.

“I’m sorry. I couldn’t find my phone,” whispered Gray.

“I had no idea that you hadn’t made it into work. I could have lost you,” breathed Joey.

“Never lose me. What happened?” He gasped, struggling for breath.

“You were attacked. Can you tell me where it hurts?” Asked Gabby, taking an updated set of vitals.

“Chest. Like last time,” responded Graeme, trying to reach his chest with his hands, but failing miserably.

“Pneumothorax,” answered Joey. Gray nodded, beyond making words as his lips started to pale to blue.

“Tracheal deviation to the left. I need a thoracotomy tray now!” Exclaimed Charlotte. Frank pulled Joey out of the way as Charlotte counted ribs, Gabby appearing with the requested tray.

“Please, don’t let him die,” pleaded Joey.

“We won’t. Hold on Gray.” Charlotte inserted the syringe in Gray’s chest, pulling gently on the plunger as it filled with air. Gray’s colour started to return, the needed oxygen flowing back through his veins.

“Right. I’ll go hurry Radiology up,” said Frank quietly.

“It wasn’t noted in his file,” remarked Gabby. Joey looked up at her.

“What wasn’t?” He asked carefully.

“Situs Inversus Totalis. You know, I’ll go mark it in now,” said Gabby, leaving Joey, Gray and Charlotte in RESUS.

“Is this why you were upset earlier?” Asked Charlotte, watching Joey as he ran a hand through Gray’s hair.

“Partly,” he replied.

“You could have told me,” responded Charlotte.

“That hasn’t exactly kept me out of trouble before, and I don’t expect that to change,” answered Joey.

“What do you mean?”

“I mean, I told someone once before and it ended with both Gray and I in hospital, myself in ICU for two weeks as I recovered from severe internal injuries and a shattered arm; they had to rebuild it internally with plates. All because I was gay, because we’d ‘brought it on ourselves’, because ‘our kind had no place working in a hospital’. I’ve heard enough of it Charlotte, and I didn’t want that kind of negativity to follow us here, so Gray and I vowed to not tell anyone. Seems like that idea just fucked off in the wind,” snapped Joey.

“All Saints is different. I swear,” replied Charlotte quietly.

“And you; you were in the newspapers for making that young nurse try and commit suicide!”

“That’s not what happened, and besides, it’s been over four years since that! People change!” Exclaimed Charlotte. Joey deflated visibly, shrinking back into himself, mentally slapping himself for causing conflict when Gray was in such pain.

“I… I just didn’t want my first day to be like this. I’m sorry,” apologised Joey quietly, backing down. 

“I’m sorry for pushing it. It’s already been a tough day, and I’ve just made it worse. I’m sorry,” responded Charlotte, surprised at how quickly his mood changed. Gabby returned with an orderly, and moved to unhook Gray from the oxygen and collect his monitor.

“Radiology are ready. We’ll be back soon, okay?” Joey nodded, and watched as his beloved was wheeled away for scans. He jumped as a gentle hand was placed on his shoulder.

“If it helps, I’m bi. I’ll be your biggest advocate around here, and as I’m sure you know, Frank doesn’t care as long as you do your job. We are different Joey, more than you know, and you’ll make some incredible friends here, who will support you and care for you,” said Charlotte softly. Joey felt weeks of pent-up emotion build up to bursting point, and before he knew it, he was crying on Charlotte’s shoulder, the stress of his situation finally dawning on him. He felt a larger hand on his back, and realised it was Frank’s.

“Come on, into the common room. Take a break for a few minutes Charlotte; I’ll handle the floor.”


Joey composed himself after ten minutes, ready to face the world again, and Charlotte glanced at him.

“You ready?” She asked. Joey nodded.

“I think so. I just want to know he’s okay,” replied Joey.

“Then let’s go find out,” said Charlotte, smiling easily. She followed Joey out back into RESUS, where Gray was looking a little more alert.

“Lucky Gabrielle came with me,” remarked Gray, smiling through the pain.

“Why?” Asked Joey, taking a seat next to him while Charlotte sat across from them. Gabby disappeared momentarily before returning with two suture kits, handing one to each of the doctors.

“If you need me, I’ll be trying to manage a floor with agency nurses,” commented Gabby as she closed the curtains.

“The radiologist wanted to take the x-rays again, convinced his intern had done it wrong until Gabby set him straight about the SIT. Otherwise we could have been there for hours,” answered Gray. Frank entered the room with Gray’s scans in hand, and held them up to the light so Gray and Joey could see.

“You’ve not fractured your wrist badly, however the plate that is in there has been damaged, so the orthopaedic team will take you upstairs for surgery on that a little later. Surgical will be in to consult on the bleeding around your spleen, however I think that can be conservatively managed without the need for more surgery. There’s no sign of brain damage, however you may still have a mild concussion, so you’ll be in for obs for a few hours. Everything else is soft tissue damage, bruising and the lacerations that the doctors Beaumont are patching up for you now. Any questions?” Asked Frank. Gray shook his head carefully, mindful of the stars popping up in front of his eyes.

“No. Listen, Doctor Campion?” Asked Gray.

“Mm?”

“I promise I won’t be this late in the future,” responded Gray. Frank smiled at him.

“Don’t worry about it. We’re just glad you’re okay.”


Hours later, Gabby, Frank and Charlotte were sitting in the office, reviewing the day as well as trying to sort out rosters and personnel. Frank wasn’t being overly helpful, and Gabby and Charlotte were fast running out of options to cover shifts.

“So, Frank? What happened with Joey today?” Asked Charlotte carefully. Frank pulled open his desk drawer, tossing a file to her.

“This is why admin have ‘ignored’ the relationship rule. There’s information in there for both of them. None of this leaves this office; no-one is to know. Got it?” Asked Frank. Charlotte flipped open the file and breathed in sharply.

“Oh God.” Gabby peered over Charlotte’s shoulder.

“This is why he’s so afraid of all of us, and today has not made it any better. Be nice.” Charlotte couldn’t believe her eyes as she read the report:

After several weeks of harassment from members of my own Emergency Department, I have suggested to both Doctor Joseph Beaumont and Nurse Graeme Dineen that perhaps they should search for alternative employment, and have recommended a change to Sydney. This comes after both were brutally attacked by a group of my own staff members, all of whom have since been suspended without pay. Please find enclosed the trauma report for each, and the recommendation that they seek specific counselling, and the hope that they can eventually forgive this head of department for ignoring their pleas for assistance before the event.

Regards,

Kerry Swann

Director of Emergency Medicine

Saint Mary’s Hospital, Perth.

 

Name: Joseph Beaumont

Age: 27

Gender: Male

GCS: 6

Presentation: Male presented to the ED via ambulance, unconscious. Evidence of sexual assault, physical assault and trauma.

Report: Contusion to head, moderate concussion, evidence of swelling in the brain (see Radiology Report, referral: Neurosurgeon), cracked zygomatic bone, two teeth missing (referral: Dental Surgeon), swelling to the neck, no evidence of spinal injury, fractured right clavicle, fractured ulna and radius (evidence: Police Report, referral: Orthopaedic Surgeon), right index and ring finger broken, left wrist shattered (referral: Orthopaedic Surgeon), third and fourth right ribs broken, fifth and sixth right ribs fractured, fourth through sixth left ribs cracked, evidence of internal bleeding (see Radiology Report, referral: General Surgeon), evidence of pelvic fracture (see Radiology Report, referral: Orthopaedic Surgeon). Evidence of sexual assault; kit taken, no remarkable evidence (evidence: Police Report, referral: Psychologist).

Recommendation/Referral: Recommend time in ICU while recovering, to ensure adequate healing time. Follow up appointment to be scheduled with neurology, dentistry, orthopaedics, general surgery and psychology as required by each specialty.

 

Name: Graeme Dineen

Age: 26

Gender: Male

GCS: 8

Presentation: Male presented to the ED via ambulance, unconscious. Evidence of physical assault and trauma. No evidence of sexual assault.

Report: Contusion to head, moderate concussion, evidence of swelling in the brain (see Radiology Report, referral: Neurosurgeon), right wrist shattered (referral: Orthopaedic Surgeon), second and third left ribs broken, fourth and fifth right ribs fractured, third through fifth left ribs cracked, resulting in tension pneumothorax as resolved in ED RESUS (referral: Pulmonologist), right fibula and tibia open fracture (referral: Orthopaedic Surgeon), evidence of internal splenic bleeding (see Radiology Report) however can be conservatively managed in General Ward. Situs Inversus Totalis was noted in Radiology Report.

Recommendation/Referral: Transfer to General Ward. Follow up appointment to be scheduled with neurology, orthopaedics, pulmonology, with recommendation for referral to psychology due to circumstance. SIT diagnosis to be followed up and noted in medical records due to possibility of complications.

 

Charlotte glanced at Frank, mouth agape, and passed the file to Gabby.

“He’s lucky to be alive,” she said weakly.

“Yes, so it’s little wonder that he was beside himself earlier. He’s only been out of bed for six weeks, and he chooses to start work in an ED? Christ, I’d be sending him home to recover a little more,” remarked Frank.

“I can’t believe he’d keep quiet about that,” responded Gabby.

“I can,” replied Charlotte quietly. Gabby and Frank looked at her.

“Do tell.”

“I was seventeen, and my sister had outed me to my parents, and my father had just left, and the school found out that I was gay. The girls didn’t like that I could ‘perve’ on them in the change rooms, and guys thought they could change me. I was attacked by some of the football team and their girlfriends when I was walking home from school, and Sophia just watched it happen. My report was omitted from my records because I didn’t want my parents to find out, and I stayed at a friends place for a few months while I waited for everything to blow over. My parents didn’t care; they were happy that the lesbian child was out of the house,” answered Charlotte.

“Oh Charlotte, I had no idea,” exclaimed Gabby.

“What did the trauma report indicate?” Asked Frank softly.

“Fractured pelvis, broken ribs resulting in a flail injury, punctured lung, broken nose, severe concussion, and some bitch knifed me in the stomach. I was a mess afterwards, and as soon as I finished school and was accepted into university, I was out to be as straight as I could. I met Vincent, and you know the story from there,” replied Charlotte forcefully. Gabby could feel the tension emanating from Charlotte, and decided it was time to move onto the other reason why they were meeting at such a late hour. 

“I’m sorry to hear what happened to you Charlotte, and I know you’d like to get home soon to give Zach a hug; he doesn’t care what his mum is, as long as she’s his mum, so let’s get these rosters finished,” said Gabby with forced cheerfulness. Charlotte nodded, pulling out the rostering folder and a pen. Frank nodded at Gabby, a silent thanks for the change in subject.

“Do you think we could ask Jo to cover some shifts? I mean, I know she’s a specialist paramedic, but she could get us out of trouble for a little while,” mused Charlotte, flipping through the empty roster sheets.

“No, she’d think that would be beneath her. I’ve got some resumes here Frank, we could go through them now…”

“You and Charlotte go through them, and I’ll sign off on whatever.” Frank stood up, shuffling around the desk and heading for the door.

“Frank? Where are you going?” Asked Charlotte.

“I’m going to check on our new doctor and his partner, make sure they’re okay before I head home for the night. Is that okay with you?” Replied Frank wearily. Charlotte nodded.

“Night Frank.” She took Frank’s seat, allowing Gabby to swivel around and spread out resumes and rosters on Frank’s desk.

“So how are we doing on the doctors roster?” Asked Gabby.

“I’ve got Joey and Bart on days, Adam and myself doing nights, and that’s where I come unstuck. I can’t really do nights, not with Zach, but there’s no-one to cover nights at the moment, and besides, there’s really not enough of us on the floor as it is,” responded Charlotte.

“Let’s get that sorted before we look at nurses. Frank has an intern application on his desk somewhere too; I was pretty sure he hadn’t told you about it.” Gabby rifled through the stack of papers on Franks desk before finding the folder. “Here you go; Ava Young. She’s got promise. Move Bart to nights, you take days and take her under your wing. She’s got high recommendations, and I think she’d do better under your tutelage instead of Frank’s,” added Gabby.

“Still doesn’t solve my problem of not enough doctors,” grumbled Charlotte.

“Put Steve on. All he’s doing at the moment is sitting at home with Russ while I’m here. I’ll happily take days if you want to give Steve nights; it’ll give him something to do,” suggested Gabby. Charlotte pencilled Steve into her roster, and looked at it carefully.

“Looks like it’ll work. How’s Russ?” Asked Charlotte as she signed off on the roster.

“He’s a handful, but what four-year-old isn’t?” Gabby pulled out her own nurses roster, the sheet looking woefully blank. “This isn’t solving the nursing situation; I have a dozen or so resumes to go through again, and the two that admin and Frank signed off are no use to me. Gray is in the ward for a week or so while he recovers, and Ally never showed up for her shift, and doesn’t answer her phone. I’m back to where I was two weeks ago; very low on nursing staff, and having to pull double and triple shifts to try and cover,” complained Gabby.

“So we’ve definitely got Claire. Give her nights with Adam; she’s responsible enough to be a 2IC by now. She’s definitely proven her management skills, and she’s always prompt. Hand me some of those resumes, let’s se if we can find some nurses.” Charlotte and Gabby were quiet for a few minutes, shuffling through the resumes. “Here’s one; Isabelle Turner. She’s had ED experience as well as a stint in Geriatrics. She’s young, able to work nights or days, and lives two minutes from the building. She’s currently temping at St Angela’s; think she’d be a good fit?” Asked Charlotte.

“Put her in the maybe pile for now. I’ve found another; Liam Gordon. Moved down here from Queensland, looking for another nursing position. His reference does warn that he’s a bit of a joker. Might not fit with the team,” fussed Gabby.

“He could be the breath of fresh air we need. Oliver Rhodes, has experience in Paediatrics, Intensive Care and ED. He’s also been a paramedic for a few years before deciding to become a full-time nurse. He’s currently sitting at Ambulance Operations. His reference comes from Ben Markham…” Charlotte trailed off.

“What is it?”

“Ben Markham used to work as a paramedic. Last I’d heard, he and his wife Bronwyn had moved out to the country, and he was going to retire. I wonder why he’s back in Sydney,” mused Charlotte. “Okay, so Isabelle on nights, Oliver on nights, and Claire can keep them out of trouble. Keep the joker for yourself on days, and ask Bree if she can cover some days at the moment, until Gray is back on his feet, get everyone to start in two days. Does that sound like it will work?” Charlotte asked Gabby.

“I think so. Better than having to supervise all these agency nurses and temps,” responded Gabby.

“Have you found someone to cover the transitional care position?” Asked Charlotte, leaning across the desk.

“No, and no-one wants it. That position was created for Von, and no-one has even applied for it.”

“Well, we’ve managed for over four years without one; what’s a few more months?” Sighed Charlotte.

“Have you finished those budgets for admin as well? I know they were after them a few days ago, and Frank said you would do it,” replied Gabby.

“God, lucky I had already done it, otherwise I’d be calling Frank now to bash his ears. We’re running out of funding, and the budget has to be squeezed even tighter. I’m not enjoying having to slice away my colleagues pay packets, but I’m running out of places to find funds,” said Charlotte wearily, logging onto Frank’s computer so she could email the required budgeting sheets to administration.

“What about MRU? What’s going to happen with all their funding, all their progress?” Asked Gabby. Charlotte ran a hand through her hair, feeling like the world was on her shoulders.

“It’s all in Mike Vlasek’s hands now.”


“This is no bloody picnic at the park. If you can’t handle it here, pack your bags and leave. This is a tightly run ship, and we expect the very best from all our team. If you have a problem, talk to my 2IC Charlotte, or the Gabrielle, the ED NUM. Any questions?” Barked Frank. A blond nurse raised his hand, and Frank raised an eyebrow at him.

“Just wanted to know when you’re due sir; you look like you’re about to drop,” he commented, smirk on his face.

“Say something like that again and you’ll find my boot so far up your arse that you’ll be able to taste the rubber of my soles. Got it?” Snarled Frank.

“Yes sir!” Saluted the blond nurse. Frank growled before walking away, muttering under his breath.

“Do that again and you’ll find yourself fired. You were picked for this job because we thought you had the expertise and experience to excel in such a job. Don’t prove us wrong,” snarled Charlotte. Gabby took her new junior nurse aside, and sent Bree on her way.

“You have ED experience, so get it through your head; play nice with the boss, or find yourself fired, and I won’t protect you from Frank. Not if that’s how you want to play the game,” said Gabby harshly.

“Got it ma’am. Where do you want me?” He asked.

“Sub-Acute three with Charlotte. Don’t bother trying; she’s gay,” answered Gabby, a smile playing on her lips as she watched the nurse deflate.

“Fine. Doesn’t stop me from trying it with the other nurse!” He exclaimed gleefully.

“Liam! Hurry up!” Called Charlotte. He disappeared under Gabby’s arm, and she shook her head.

“Looks like he’s going to be fun,” commented Bree, leaning over the staff base.

“Go work triage with Joey. Go on,” waved Gabby. 

“Joey’s not on; Bart is,” responded Bree, a little confused. 

“Oh. It’s alright. Just do triage with him then. Let me know if you need anything!” Called Gabby. Bree skipped off to triage, and Gabby sorted patient files at the staff base. Charlotte joined her a few moments later with a pathology request. “Did you know that Bart had swapped with Joey so he could do days, and Joey would do nights?” Asked Gabby. Charlotte glanced at her.

“He didn’t speak to me about it. Do you know if Frank okayed the change?” Replied Charlotte.

“Not that I’m aware of, although Frank doesn’t really share unless he has to,” answered Gabby.

“Give me a second. Watch Liam?” Gabby nodded, and Charlotte made a beeline for triage.

“Bart, could I see you for a second?” Asked Charlotte.

“Sure. Bree, could you wrap that wrist, and I’ll get onto Radiology?” Bree nodded, and Bart stepped away, standing in front of Charlotte.

“You changed shifts. Did you clear it with Frank or myself?” Asked Charlotte.

“No, but…”

“The shifts were allocated in a particular way for a reason. Was Joey really okay with changing shifts with you?” Demanded Charlotte.

“Yes, but…”

“You’re back on nights. It will swap around in two weeks, and you can go back to days for a cycle, but nights Bart. I need you here on nights.”
“I can’t.”

“What do you mean ‘you can’t’?” Snarled Charlotte. Bart sagged, looking defeated, and for a brief moment, Charlotte wondered if she’d been too harsh on him.

“I thought you of all people would understand. I’ll change it back,” sighed Bart.

“What’s going on?” Asked Charlotte, now concerned.

“Never mind. I’ve got to get back to triage. I’ll go back to nights, and I’ll make it work.” Bart left Charlotte standing in the hall, wondering what had just happened. Frank waltzed past her, and she chased after him.

“Frank? Frank!” She called.

“Yes, Beaumont?” He stopped and turned to face her.

“Do you know what’s going on with Bart?” She asked carefully.

“No. As far as I’m aware, Bart is fine. Is there a problem?” Responded Frank. 

“No… At least, I don’t think so.”

“Good. Anything else?” Asked Frank.

“Um, the rosters are finalised on your desk for the next month, budgets sent off to admin, and Bart stayed back late last night and finished the pharmaceutical inventory.”

“And you’re worried about someone who voluntarily stayed back and did inventory? I’d be praising him Charlotte, not asking him if there’s something wrong. Now, I’ve got somewhere to be; do you have anything else you want to run past me?” Charlotte shook her head, and Frank meandered off to the lift.

“You’re doing well Charlotte, just stop trying to read into things that aren’t really there.”