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If You Have HIV Hep C Tips For An Emergency Where To Go To Get Help
  Here's some info that might help if you ever have to go to the emergency department or hospital.

•First, try to get to your own doctor, or a medi-clinic before going to the hospital. The emergency department is for emergencies and is usually really busy.

•ER sees people who are sickest first – this is up to the nurse at the front desk. If you come in by ambulance, this doesn’t mean you’ll get in faster – you may have to wait in the waiting room.

•Staff in the ER can sometimes have a bad day – we all do! Try not to take it personally and be proud of the fact that you are being respectful.

•There are lots different types of exam rooms in the ER – someone may get in ahead of you if they need a special eye room or women’s exam that can only be done in one kind of room. Also, people go in according to how sick they are, so even if someone came in after you, they may get in to see the doctor before you because their problem is more serious.

•If you leave the waiting room – it helps to tell the nurse where you are going…then, if they call your name they will know where to find you. If you don’t answer to your name being called 2 or 3 times, they will think you have left and take you off the waiting list.

•Use your real name whenever possible – it helps the hospital keep a record of your visits so the next time you come in, they will know your history – this will help hospital staff look after you better. Also, if you come in unconscious or passed out, the staff will know about your history, medications and allergies if they have your real name.

•Know that most health care professionals don’t know what its like to live on the street and have to deal with the daily struggles…and they may be afraid to ask. So, give them with as much information as you can in order to work out the best plan for your health.

•Have one friend or family member that you trust with you – it may help the time pass and they may be able to help if you need it.

•Hospital staff in Emergency see lots & lots of folks who inject or are addicted to drugs. They have experience with drugs and how they affect your health. They also know what different drugs can do to your body, and they can usually tell what you’ve been taking if they order certain blood tests.

•Sometimes you have to tell your “story” to many different people (nurses, doctors, specialists, residents) – the reason for this is that all those people are there to help you in different ways and may get different things out of your history. Everyone who comes to the hospital has to put up with this…it can be frustrating but its so they can do a good job. *If your clothes are missing, it may be because the ambulance guys had to cut them off when they picked you up. If you weren’t breathing or were lying in wet clothes, the staff will take them off, sometimes even cut them if it’s a life or death situation – a nurse can help you get clean dry clothes to replace them, just ask.

•Lots of times when someone comes in by ambulance and they got picked up on the street unconscious or beat up, they come to hospital without their glasses or wallet or keys, etc… These things may have been lost or stolen before the ambulance got there – or they may have been lost or stolen in hospital – ask a nurse if you came in with any belongings that have gone missing, they can look around for you or call the ambulance department to help find them.

•There are social workers in the hospital who are very good at getting you connected with services in the community when its time for you to leave the hospital. Ask to see them if you need any help at all once you are discharged.

•Your medical history is really important to the doctors and nurses– your HIV or Hepatitis status or any other diseases or medical problems you have are important for them to know. Having HIV or Hepatitis can mean you might be much sicker than someone who doesn’t have these diseases and things like a fever can be more dangerous to you so if the staff know everything about your health, they can do the right tests and look after you better.

•Have a list of your allergies, previous medical problems and current health problems with you all the time – if you’re unconscious this is very important – the nurse can find it in your wallet or clothes and then have the information they need to look after you safely and properly. Bring your pills in with you – also your empty pill bottles or any bottles of stuff you have taken.

•Emergency isn’t a cop shop – the staff are there to help you with your health concern, not to report you to the police so be honest with the nurses and doctors…the only way they can look after you well is if you are straight up about your health (drug use, HIV/Hepatitis status, previous medical problems). Things will go faster and you will be looked after better when the hospital staff know all they need to know about you.

•When you have to stay in hospital for a longer time, the schedule in hospital may be hard to get used to. Nurses may be waking you up at funny times and it might be hard to get used to their routines. There are certain times that you will need to take your medications or go for tests. X-rays and other treatments have to happen when they are scheduled because these departments are very busy. If you need to go out to smoke or for a walk, be sure and tell the nurses where you will be and check in often.

•Be proud of the fact that you are looking after yourself by going to the hospital.