The elevator doors open, and I step out onto the pediatric floor. The momentary quiet is broken by the attendant in the booth as she greets me.
“Hello, Dr. St. James, how are you today?” She smiles at me from behind the glass where most people must stop and check in. I use my badge clipped to the lapel of my lab coat to swipe my way inside.
“I’m doing good today, Rose. How about you?” I smile back at her.
“All’s quiet, so I can’t complain.” We both chuckle, and I hear the giggles of children coming from the family room. I peek through the windows as I pass and see a couple of kids sitting around playing video games with their families and coloring at the table. As I move further onto the floor, I hear more sounds of happiness and soft playing music.
This has been one of the easiest parts about my move from Boston Community Hospital to Eastport General in Rhode Island. I like that this pediatric unit doesn’t solely focus on the children’s illnesses and requires the halls to be quiet. Instead, there are fun things and activities for the kids to do, from playing video games to having tutors on staff and even the family room.
I also made this move for my son. He needed a fresh start away from all of his father’s issues. My mother was willing to come with us, and we are so much happier here. For now, I’m renting a condo, but we are looking for houses too. I was able to get Sebastian on a hockey team, and he’s settling in nicely. I have a better schedule here and get to pick my days off. Yeah, I’m on call, but I’d rather be that than fight several other docs for weekends off. Once the season starts, Bas will have hockey games on Saturdays and I’ll be able to see them.
Stopping at the nurses’ station, I greet the staff and review my patients’ charts. I only have a couple who are admitted. More of my patients come to my office upstairs, where I treat them without them having to stay here. As a pediatric orthopedic surgeon, I help on several different cases, but one of the ones I’m here to check up on today takes the cake.
I’ve seen the aftermath of child abuse firsthand, but this was one of the worst for me. I’m floored that this little girl and her mother were able to survive this long. I look over the notes and see that little Bailey had a rough night.
I had to perform an emergency hip surgery to repair the damage done after Bailey was hit by a car. A car driven by her own father. He was aiming for the mother, but the little girl took the brunt of the impact. Her mom has several injuries and is being treated here too. Her doctor, the department and hospital heads, and I all agreed to have her placed on this floor with her daughter. This floor is one of the most secure in the hospital, but security has grown even stricter since Bailey and her mom came in yesterday.
I move on to the second chart, a little boy who fell from a tree and broke his arm. I had him admitted because he had an allergic reaction to a medication. He’s stabilized and I’ll have him discharged later today. I talk to his day nurse and relate my plans before I make my way down the hall toward his room, where I give him and his parents the good news.
Finally, it’s time to check in on Bailey. I push my glasses up my nose before stepping through the doorway and past the police officer watching over her.
“Morning,” I whisper to Bailey’s mom. She gives me a sad smile. Her light brown hair matches her daughter’s. “I see it was a little rough last night.”
“Yeah, the cast was itching her, and she was in some pain.” Bailey trembles in her sleep at the sound of her mother’s soft voice.
I move to the bed and check the monitors attached to her, and then I look at the pain medication machine. I’d instructed the night nurse to keep her medicated for the first night to help with the discomfort. I’m going to have to come up with some other things too.
I look down at the sweet little girl. Her face is still a bit dirty, and her long hair is matted. I’ll have the nurse bathe her to help with the itching.
“I’m going to have the nurse give her a sponge bath today and wash her hair. Maybe we can braid her hair too.” I try to keep my voice down, but Bailey’s eyes still flutter open, and she looks up at me. Because of the spica cast to protect her hips and the long length down her broken right leg, she can only be elevated a small amount for right now.
“Hello, Bailey.” I smile down at her, and she gives me a fraction of a smile back. I see the pain in her eyes, but I can tell it’s not physical. “Are you hurting?” I ask just to confirm.
She shakes her head at me. She’s barely spoken since she’s arrived, but that doesn’t stop me from talking to her.
“How about a bath today, and we can raise your head a bit more?” Her eyes light up some. I think for a moment, trying to remember when Bas was seven and what he was into. “I can also have someone stop by with coloring books and we can get you set up to do that. Sound good?” More light enters her eyes before she looks over to her mom and it dims instantly when she sees the bruises on her mom’s face.
“Bailey, baby, it’s okay.” Her mom moves over and takes her daughter’s hand in her free one. Bailey’s mom has a broken arm, a few broken ribs, and was beaten really bad.
“Okay, Bailey, I’ll stop in and see you later on.” I move away and step out to make my notes. It’s like a weight to my chest seeing everything that Bailey and her mom went through. The cop on duty sighs loudly.
“It’s hard to see that someone could hurt such an innocent little girl.” His voice is deep and scratchy. I turn to face him and weakly smile as I nod.
* * *
Hours later, after finalizing my chart notes from today’s patients, I pull up Bailey’s chart. She got a bath, and they were able to wash her hair. Her nurse noted that the social workers were in and out today, along with detectives trying to make their case against her father. I look over her meds. She got them on regular intervals, but I see that she barely ate any food. I’ll have to talk to her about how important that will be in her healing.
When I stand from my desk, I arch my back and stretch it. I can’t wait until this evening; I’ve been waiting weeks to go to this new club. My friend Ryan, who helped me get the job here, is a member and couldn’t talk enough about it. The club has only been open for a couple of years, but I don’t care, as long as it helps me forget about little girls with broken hips from their own father. I slip off my lab coat and put it in the bin to go to cleaning, then I grab my pink leather jacket off the coatrack and slip it on over my sleeveless magenta dress. I grab my pink designer satchel and drop my cell phone into it as I head out of the office.
I say good night to my staff and head down to the fourth floor to pediatrics. My heels click along the linoleum floor, and I hear raised voices coming from Bailey’s room. I move faster and see the police in there.
“This is not the place to do this.” I raise my voice just enough to get their attention. Two men turn toward me, and I see Bailey cowering on the bed. I slip between them and her. I look over and see her mother is crying from her bed. At my five-foot-four height, I’m not extremely tall, but my heels give me some height and my presence is commanding. I lower my voice to make it sound more authoritative. “These two have been put through enough. Don’t you think?” I tip my head slightly and feel Bailey’s small hand grip my jacket at my back. It’s the first time she’s initiated any contact between us.
“Ma’am, we can’t find the assailant and can’t keep security on the room indefinitely.” One of the detectives takes me in. I watch his eyes move from my feet up to my face. I know his look. My voice has a heavy huskiness to it; I’d have no problems getting hired as a phone-sex operator. My body is curvy and trim. I have larger breasts that his eyes rove back down to. The urge to tell him my eyes are north of my boobs is great, but instead I tip my chin.
“I believe hospital administration will have something else to say about that. We were assured our patients would be safe. Isn’t that your job? And it’s Doctor to you. Doctor St. James.” I step back, not wanting him close to me.
“Sorry, Dr. St. James,” the other detective says. “You’re correct. We’ll make sure an officer is left here until we apprehend the victim’s father.” He puts a hand to his partner’s shoulder and pulls him back. I look up at the first detective again. He’s still checking me out. He’s not ugly, but he’s not handsome either. However, something about him doesn’t sit right with me. I wait until they leave the room before I turn to Bailey.
“Are you okay?” I ask her softly. She grabs a hold of my jacket. I notice that I was wrong earlier. Now that her hair is cleaned, it’s such a pale brown it’s almost blond, whereas her mother’s is still brown.
“He’s going to kill us,” she says so softly I barely hear her.
“Not if I can help it,” I promise her.
Carefully, I check her over, and she keeps touching my bag that I’d set on her bed when I squared off with the detectives. I smile when I see her trace the letters on the side of it.
“My mom got it for me as a gift when I graduated from medical school,” I tell her. “Do you like purses and bags?”
She nods and smiles at me. I know it’s not a good idea as the thought goes through my head, but I’m bringing her one of my older bags tomorrow. She has nothing and I can’t stand it.
Before I leave the floor, I make sure the nurse knows to give me a call if there are any problems. I head down to the employee parking lot, where my new car is waiting for me, and then I head home to spend time with my family before heading to the club for some real fun.