The horror of the day would never end. Some people thought it was more personal for me than it really was. My phone rang off the hook with calls inquiring about DD’s safety. Time after time, I would say, “She’s fine. She isn’t in New York yet. She is still in California. Her flight is almost two weeks away.” Everyone’s relief was apparent and I appreciated their concern.
The next day was DS1’s 37th birthday. It was hard to think about celebrating. I couldn’t be with him, anyway. It fell mid-week and I had to be at the hospital.
The next week went by almost in slow motion. Everywhere I’d turn, the news was the same. It was horrible. I couldn’t shut it off. It was on the radio. TV. Newspapers. Magazines. On the World Wide Web. I got forwards about accounts of heroism and others with a satanic face superimposed on a picture of the smoke going up from one of the towers. It was supposed to be genuine but it couldn’t be. Someone had been busy with Photoshop. I couldn’t believe there were people out there with little enough to do.
I had to force myself to ignore everything I could because work must go on. I couldn’t concentrate on that and do my job, too. When someone would mention it, I would make the appropriate noises and that was that.
The Tech Management people came from the main campus to install the new (to us) computer system. Network lines had been strung to the chapel where table after table with rows of computers were set up as a learning center. There were instructors from Health Information Management, Patient Accounting, and, of course, Registration. The registrars and I had to rotate through since we were still registering on our beloved system. We would be doing that until October 1 when the takeover would be complete.
We’d had all sorts of hope for the system. One of the men with the current management had told me we’d have everything we needed because the future management had “deep pockets”. With that stuck in my head, I imagined it would be state of the art. It would do everything except windows and floors. I couldn’t have been more wrong and that led to a deep disappointment.
The “new” system was an old system. The one we’d left behind a year plus before was more flexible and user-friendly and it had been installed in 1987. There wasn’t anything I could do but suck it up and learn the ins and outs of the antiquated one. I’d ask if it would do this and this. No. That would involve enhancements and hospital-wide everyone was using the bare-bones version. We were going ‘way back from real-time to day-end processing. It wasn’t going to be easy to see the server and all the other equipment leave the building.
The night of September 30, the hospital had more security than it had ever seen. It was noised about that the now former management would “try something”. I didn’t know what they might try. They had fought the takeover but they weren’t successful. The current management was bigger and better equipped to get what it wanted. They were reaping the reward of having a Critical Access Hospital when they’d done none of the work. The former owners did nothing that night. I knew they wouldn’t. They had more class than that.
The next day, I was standing in the computer room with my hand over my heart as the server was disconnected and moved out. One of the women from IT said, “I’ll bet you’re glad to see THAT THING go.” I said, “No. That was OUR system. We picked it out.” Another woman understood how I felt. She said, “That was their baby.” She’d seen what it would do. I’ve always had a soft spot in my heart for her.
We gathered in groups in the dining room to be made a part of the new health system. Each of us filled out an application and we were grandfathered in as far as seniority was concerned. We could roll over our vacation time (now called Paid Annual Leave or PAL for short) and most of our sick days. We didn’t have to wait to qualify for insurance and we could invest in the 403b. It wasn’t until later that we learned we hadn’t been grandfathered in for the pension as well. When I asked why, I was told that most companies had their own pension plan and they would overlap. The actual state of affairs was we’d never had a pension plan so we were starting at square one.
The former management opened an office in town. I was contacted to come work what hours I could to help them wrap up the outstanding claims. I ran it by Human Resources and was told that what I did in my spare time was my own business. When I asked the management about pay, I was told I would be making 1.5 times what I had been making as their regular employee. It sounded good to me. They asked some of the others and some agreed and some didn’t. There were also people from the community who came in to work. I was generally able to put in 8 to 10 hours per week. It was a nice addition to the bank account. I was making less at the hospital than I had before because full time was 37.5 hours vs 40.
There was a gaggle of registration supervisors and each of us was required to carry a pager. We were to be always available to our staff. The only problem was, in our remote area mine was more of a paperweight than anything else. And that led to my missing out. It was a bitter pill to swallow.