Tuesday, July 9
Horizon Technical Park loomed high over Route 171 outside the northwestern Iowa town of Silverton. The twenty-floor, level 1 receiving facility serving as the centerpiece, handling the health demands and providing employment for the people residing in thirty-three surrounding counties from South Dakota, Nebraska, and Iowa. A sophisticated data processing warehouse responsible for commercial accounts receivables, general ledger management for internet and catalog businesses and product distributions shared the west side of the complex with the administration area in separate but connected buildings.
Dr. Elizabeth Reed walked into the department of medical records. For privacy concerns, non-active files could not be accessed via computer. "Hello, may I see these files, please."
Naomi Sanchez took the list from her. "There are quite a few listed. Why, do you need them?"
Digging her shoe into the linoleum floor, her expression matched a little girl found playing with her mom's make-up. "Shh, don't tell anybody, I forgot to include my admission summary in a few charts. The bigwigs mailed me an admonition. I want to make sure I didn't miss any more." The real reason, for her review she kept private. The cases pertained to transports from the Silverton Jail, she suspected abuse by the jailers.
"Ok. The third office on the left is empty."
Papers in hand, Elizabeth closed and secured the door behind her. A shiver ran through her body as she read each operative report. Pictures showed similar patterns of hemorrhage. Her phone photographed images of the relevant pages. Composing herself, she gave back the folders with a wave. "Thank you. Have a nice day."
Martin "Farmer" Bailey weeded the flower beds of the Falls Church, Virginia foreclosure he bought on Lake Barcroft. The six-bedroom lakefront home was a haven from his job as the Chief Executive Officer for the restructured Chase Security International. The shower's spray cleansed away a layer of dirt and perspiration. Humming, he remembered working on his family farm as a kid. Thoughts turned to a cherished woman from his youth—Elizabeth. Toweling off, Mercutio, his clownish coon cat meowed. Mercutio's magical yellow eyes glowed.
"What? Are you thinking of Queen Mab?" Quoting from Romeo and Juliet. "She gallops night by night through lovers' brains, and then they dream of love." With a sigh, he put the past where it deserved and proceeded to the office.
The words on the phone prompted disbelief. Grabbing her lab coat, Elizabeth ran for the pediatric emergency room. An adult practitioner called for a child was rare. "Lou, what's coming in?" Louella Miranda, the ER attending acknowledged her and the approaching contingent. "Where's Kat Archer?" Elizabeth inquired about the hospital’s pediatric trauma surgeon.
"In the OR. The cops are coming in on their own with a little kid found on the side of the road. Severe injuries are all the dispatcher said. For those of you who haven't met me, my name is Beth Reed. If you cannot perform the job, I ask from you, speak up."
Silverton Police Lieutenant Shaun Murray came running through the doors with the small victim wrapped in a blue wool cloak. Ashen and sweating, he placed a child atop the stretcher. "Help...." Assessing eyes focused on the task and never took notice of the cop about to become ill as he kept looking between the table and her. "A farmer repairing an irrigation canal. My God....never in my life...how could someone do this?"
"Beth, got this?" Dr. Miranda guided the lieutenant from the room.
"Let's go. Which OR?" Inside the green tiled room, two fellows, the group's senior members, looked at her with shocked eyes floating above their masks. The intonation of her voice snapped them to attention. "One bleed at a time. Life, limb, eyesight." The war zone mantra she mastered volunteering with the UN in Gaza served her well.
The youngster on her table was almost ripped in two with the left leg crushed beyond repair. Unable to tell the sex of the child, it was necessary to extend the abdominal incision. "Focus, our job is to save...save this little girl."
Removing the little girl's limb was the least complicated part. The staff applied the wealth of their anatomy knowledge, and Beth used all her skills. Four painstaking hours later, she thanked everyone for their hard work. By the conclusion, she learned everyone's name. "Dr. Ryan. Please check in with Dr. Archer. Keep a close eye on our Jane Doe."
"Doctor, is she gonna make it?" "There is a possibility. Now, a combination of luck, skill and hope, with a solid need for God's help takes over."
Shaun Murray was pacing the corridor when Elizabeth left the OR. "Dr. Reed?"
"Um, I brought in the child. Did...?" His voice wavered.
"The little girl survived the procedure." Elizabeth kept walking.
"Did you find anything to identify her?" Eyes heavy with grief greeted hers.
"Sorry, I wish. Maybe if she wakes up." She picked up her pace.
A hand on her shoulder slowed her down. "How can you be so cold? You saw what happened to her."
A purple clog squeaked as she turned. "Of course, I spent the last four hours putting her back together. Lieutenant, would you ask the question from a male surgeon? Now, if you’ll excuse me."
With her office in sight, she unlocked and pressed her back to the door before she slid to the floor. Tears started to fall; the girl played over in her head. A screaming alert gave her little time to work through her emotions.