It’s 2:00 AM and the blue and red lights cast long, fleeting shadows across my dorm room as an ambulance rolls to a stop beneath my bedroom window. A patient is being rushed to SBH’s emergency room. Though a 1:00 AM phone call awoke Emmanuel, the SBH driver on call tonight, I know that he turned off his siren as he passed through the gate out of respect for other, sleeping patients. He makes sure that his charge is safely in the care of the emergency room physicians and nurses before he turns to leave.
The engine revs and the ambulance begins to move, but I hear someone call his name. “Emmanuel! Talè!” He stops. There is a muffled conversation. Emmanuel agrees to something and I soon hear a succession of metallic clangs as Erick from Maintenance Support loads empty oxygen tanks into the back of the ambulance for transport to the hospital’s oxygen concentrator depot for refilling. Erick, too, could have been asleep. Instead, he made the walk to the hospital to check on the number of available oxygen tanks for patients like the one brought by Emmanuel. Erick won’t sleep until he is certain that every patient has a sufficient supply of oxygen. He will spend the next two hours filling oxygen bottles before he walks home to rest for a couple of hours before sunrise.
As I fall back asleep, I can hear the upbeat voice of Dr. Guerrier, the SBH obstetrician and gynecologist, as he works with the nurse anesthetist to move a patient to the operating room for an emergency C-section.
While these sights and sounds may be routine at the hospital, they reveal the heart of HEI/SBH. Employees—from groundskeepers to administrative to medical staff—not only work here but are deeply committed to the organization’s mission. Many have also been personally touched by it. Parents have been employed, brothers have received treatment in the wards, and sisters have delivered nieces and nephews. In many cases, nurses and physicians have cared for fellow staff members themselves.