If you believe that television, movies, or medical fiction, accurately portray what it’s like to be an acute care physician or a critically ill patient in a hospital today, think again.
Dr. Joseph Polk is an intelligent, charismatic, and powerful member of the medical staff at Brier Hospital in the San Francisco Bay Area. This once brilliant physician, a functional psychopath for most of his career, has decompensated.
Nurses and front-line physicians see Polk’s indifference, incompetence, and stubborn cruelty, but the medical staff and the hospital administration are willfully blind. Patients suffer, and worse.
Jack Byrnes has finally completed his training in Intensive Care Medicine and joins Brier Hospital’s medical staff.
Jack has been well trained to care for patients, but he’s woefully unprepared to deal with Joe Polk, the medical staff, enraged nurses, and the hospital’s administration.
The strength of First, Do No Harm lies in the authenticity of the medical setting and the struggles of patients and physicians. Joe Polk is a very different kind of villain.
Targeted Age Group: Adults, mature teenagers
Genre: medical drama
The Book Excerpt:
Laura Larsen stared at her watch in disbelief; she was late; she hated being late.
Dark clouds moved across the San Francisco Bay into Oakland where they nearly touched the pavement creating an image of dusk at ten in the morning. Heavy traffic on rain-slick roads and a delayed start caused her late arrival at the airport.
While turning the key to lock her front door that morning, Laura’s boyfriend Steve McIntyre appeared. They’d fought again last night, the same-old fight, still unresolved, and spent the night apart.
“Give me a chance to apologize, to explain,” he begged. “I love you so much that sometime it makes me a little crazy.”
When Mac accepted the position as airport grounds crew supervisor, he considered his daily exposure to an array of attractive women a bonus. He’d dated many, loved a few, but failed in long-term relationships until he met Laura early one morning in the crew’s lounge. Her heels, and wrinkled flight attendant’s jacket lay next to her on the lounge sofa as she sat rubbing her feet.
She glanced his way and said, “A six-hour flight. My feet are killing me.”
He’d seen her before scurrying to and from flights, but they’d never spoken.
“I’m Steve McIntyre. Can I rub those for you?”
“I know who you are, and no, you can’t,” she said smiling brightly and returning his gaze with bright hazel eyes.
She pushed away a lock of short auburn hair then returned to her feet.
Her warm genuine smile gave Laura and earthy quality, far removed from the detached, icy-cool image of many flight attendants. The whole package reflected her joy in life and in the work she loved.
Mac had been so captivated by Laura that he allowed himself to become stupid and obsessive. He’d committed to Laura, but he’d managed to jeopardize the best relationship he’d ever had, and the one he’d valued most.
She wheeled her suitcase toward the front door of her building “We don’t have time to get into this again. I’m going to be late for my flight.”
“Call in sick, switch flights with someone or whatever, but we have to talk,” Mac pleaded as he trailed behind.
Laura stopped and turned to face Mac, “I’m not calling in sick, and it’s too late to switch flights. We’ll talk about this when I get back home, Friday.”
Mac turned away, dropping his chin to his chest. I’m losing her, he thought. What a way to discover how much I love her.
Laura loved him dearly, but his smothering threatened their relationship. She reached for his face, lifted his chin, feeling the stubble of his unshaved cheek and placed a kiss on his lips, “I love you Mac; ease up, everything will work out. See you Friday.”
The Yellow cab waited at the curb.
Laura rushed down the puddled front steps suddenly feeling weak and short of breath. She settled in the rear seat of the taxi and began sweating. In moments, she’d soaked her clothes, as if she’d completed a long run. Her heart pounded.
What’s wrong with me?
“I’m late for my flight. Twenty bucks if you get me to the airport by 10:30,” she managed to say.
Laura watched through the rain-speckled cab window as the driver earned his bonus. He raced and twisted through the stop-and-go traffic, alternating braking, and accelerating.
By the time the cab reached Oakland International Airport, she felt much better. She’d suffered through several similar episodes during exercise over the last few weeks, but her physician, Joseph Polk, examined her, took an EKG, and said everything was fine.
Laura exited the taxi, grabbed her flight bag, and weaved her way through the crowded terminal hurrying to the gate where she raced through the employee’s security checkpoint.
Laura retrieved her flight bag from the conveyor belt and started down the corridor. Immediately, she felt a strong pressure building in the middle of her chest. Sweating returned, profuse, again soaking her clothes. The chest pressure increased. It was a heavy weight pressing down, squeezing her chest then instantly radiating into her jaw and left arm. Suddenly, Laura was profoundly weak. She couldn’t catch her breath.
Terrified, Laura struggled to breathe. The lights and sounds of the noisy terminal were fading, and then suddenly the world went black as her legs failed, and she tumbled to the floor.