24 hours in the emergency centre

Posted on 1 June 2018

A day in the life of Dr Irma Aggenbach, Emergency Centre Manager at Mediclinic Panorama.

Emergency Centre staff members are some of the busiest people in the world. Treating many hurt and sick people per day, they must try to juggle administering expert medical treatments while taking time to connect to their traumatised patients with patience and empathy.

Creating a calm and compassionate space for expert care is a difficult job that these healthcare professionals do with pride, says Dr Irma Aggenbach, EC Manager at Mediclinic Panorama. “We are a small Emergency Centre, with four general beds, two resuscitation beds and a procedure room.

Who is on duty?

‘We have doctors, nurses, receptionists and porters working in the Emergency Centre 24 hours a day,’ says Dr Aggenbach. ‘This doesn’t include outsourced staff members, such as those responsible for pathology or radiology, who are also here.’

Working in an emergency centre can be chaotic. ‘The numbers don’t tell the real story: we may have only 30 patients, but if they’re all orange, things can get rather hectic. Or, if we receive four heart attack patients in a row, for example, we might have 20 patients waiting outside to be seen, because everyone is involved in giving these four urgent cases the intervention they need.’

Dr Aggenbach

What is it like working in the EC?

‘To work in the Emergency Centre you need to be adaptable,’ says Dr Aggenbach. ‘It is an unpredictable environment. Patients arrive at random so it can be impossible to plan your day – we emphasise the need for quick thinking.’

EQ: the most important factor in the EC

‘Emergency care staff members need to be excellent clinicians but they need even better people skills,’ says Dr Aggenbach, ‘This was something I had to discover on the job myself – being a good doctor might not qualify you for the unique space of emergency care.’

It’s a fraught environment, where emotions are running high and each patient is managing their own degree of pain or illness. ‘Managing our patients’ expectations is a skill, and one that we take very seriously.’

Published in Emergency

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