[UPDATE BELOW] A patient seeking care at the pediatric emergency room at St. Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital Center last night described an ordeal that allegedly began with eye-rolling and cat-calling, and culminated in these two nurses seemingly browsing for shoes online for around 20 minutes while a toddler with a violent cough sat untreated. "The boy's mother said they had been there for five hours," says Sean Walsh, a sophomore at Columbia who witnessed the encounter. "She asked what was wrong and a nurse pulled up the kid's file and said, 'Oh, we've made an error, that shouldn't have happened.' The mother ended up walking out of the ER with her child after that."
Walsh, who admitted himself at around 10:30 p.m. at the St. Luke's division off 113th Street for what he describes as a "violent respiratory tract infection," says that he snapped the photo from his bed that was adjacent to the boy's. He claims that the nurse standing up is holding an intake paper for the boy, whom he guessed was 2 or 3 years old. While Walsh couldn't confirm that both nurses were on-duty, he said, "After at least 20 minutes, I asked them if they were supposed to be shopping for shoes and the one standing just bolted," he told us. "The one at the computer quickly closed the window immediately. That's how I got the idea that they weren't on break."
Before he was shown to his room, Walsh, who is double-majoring in environmental science and business management, says one of the first hospital employees he encountered rolled his eyes at him and blurted, "What's his problem?" He says another male nurse catcalled a female patient who was lying in a gurney with a "wolf-whistle."
Last year, a St. Luke's X-ray technician was charged with sexually abusing a patient (a charge that was later dropped), and earlier this year the hospital courted controversy with its cafeteria menu on Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
"To me, this is not how a hospital is supposed to be run. I've heard stories from other people about St. Luke's before," Walsh adds, noting that he only waited a little over two hours to receive treatment.
"That's not bad at all, but that kid was waiting for five hours. He seemed much worse off than me. I don't think anyone should lose their jobs over this—I'm sure this happens at other hospitals. But there needs to be a major behavior check so this doesn't happen again."
We contacted St. Luke's for comment about this photo and a representative told us they will return our call. We'll update when we hear back.
Update: Jeff Jacomowitz, the Associate Director of Public Affairs for Continuum Health Partners, the hospital system that includes St. Luke's, says that the hospital is preparing a statement, and declined to comment further. We'll post the statement when we receive it.
Update: And here's the statement: "Our emergency room is noted for its excellence in patient care and our commitment to providing quality care for all who turn to us for help. We regret that a patient in the hospital’s emergency room last night felt that there were inadequacies in the care of another patient, as reported in today’s gothamist. Our ED leadership will review the details of this case." St. Luke's has thus far declined to elaborate on what the hospital's Internet policies are.