Now it was time to find Rudy. I caught him as he was packing away his week of incomplete work that would get some attention over the weekend. “Hey.” I called as I approached the open door. “You were looking for me….”
Rudy motioned me in and sat down, which I took as an invitation to do the same. “I wanted to fill you in on something. Pull the door, will ya?” I reached behind and closed the door, wondering which of my many misdeeds he had become aware of.
With our privacy secured, Rudy began. “I just wanted to give you a heads up. Linda Berwick has transferred from emerg to the medical floor.” My silence, and my shocked face, invited more detail. “This was her request…officially. But in reality, when we met with her to review the incident last week, you know the one: with the cops and the nurse from the unit upstairs…and you…” He punctuated the final word by pointing at me with a flourish. “…she said a few things that led us to believe maybe emerg might not be the best place for her to…exercise her skills.”
This was certainly not the conversation I had been expecting. “Tell me what you can Rudy. I understand this isn’t any of my business….unless it is?” I emphasized the last point with the raised eyebrows of a question when I heard the comment come out of my mouth and realized there could be more to this.
“Well, it is kinda your business.” He hesitated before proceeding. “But really, she has been wanting out of emerg for a while, apparently. This last incident just accentuated the problems with ‘fit’.” He sat back in his chair and I realized I hadn’t properly noted the intensity of his presentation. “Listen, there’s more to this. Some of it is what she said about the incident, some of it is what she said about other nurses, some of it is her wish to reduce her exposure to conflict, some of it is personal for her.”
“Can I even know how this relates to me, since it obviously does? At least, in part.”
Rudy’s long exhale, pulled his face into a serious grimace that told me he wanted to spill. “I’m not at liberty to disclose the details…”
“But you know I will hound you until you do.”
“The facts, as they relate to you, include a derogatory reference to your sexual orientation, which is inappropriate and against hospital policy.” He stated without emotion. “She did not make the reference to you; that is why you weren’t included in the investigation. She made the remark to one of the other nurses in emerg, who brought it to her manager, Dan’s attention. He brought it to Beth-Anne, who was already steamed about the coding of the incident…this was why I needed you to steer clear of the situation until after we completed our investigation. I wasn’t trying to brush you off. Hattie.” That explained his earlier reaction to the incident report. He already knew about Linda’s comment and he had my back.
“I get it Rudy. Thanks for your support.” I was genuinely touched. “I’m grateful for the nurse who turned Linda in too. Can I know who it was?” I wanted to send flowers.
“I’m not supposed to disclose any of this. But I know you will dig around until you get the answers you are looking for, you can be as tenacious as a personal injury lawyer.” I tried to look hurt but in truth I think he nailed me. “Here is what I can tell you: you might want to check back with the people who were directly involved in this incident…”
“Jack!” I deduced.
“I’m not saying.”
“You know what, I need to follow up with Jack to see if he was ok with that incident being changed from a four to a two.” I crowed, while Rudy smiled and shook his head, amused. “But Rudy…” another thought had reached my creaking brain. “Just because Linda is on the medical floor doesn’t mean I won’t cross paths with her again. And, she can’t just get her way with a transfer after comments like that.”
“The only detail I can tell you is that she was transferred. I couldn’t tell you, for instance, if there was any other discipline…or correction.” Rudy’s voice was firm and I knew not to push it. This was code for: she got some other comeuppance that I had to trust was fair but none of my business.”
“Thanks for letting me know Rudy. I expect we will cross paths again and this way I can measure my words.”
“That’s a lot to hope for!” Rudy laughed out loud.
“Cross my heart!” And I did. I understood the way institutions worked. I understood how people worked, mostly. Linda was peeved with me, either because of the incident or because I was a lesbian. I might never know for sure. I wish I was the one in control of handling it with her rather than the hard hand of a transfer. Unless Rudy was right that part of her wish was to get out of a very stressful work-site. Anyway, as the wheels of hospital politics turned, I was but a cog. And I understood that an errant cog can jolt the whole contraption into the ditch. So I let it go, just like Jody had so wisely instructed me, citing the cute monk. “See you Monday, Rudy. As you may have heard, I have a job to do” I added over my shoulder, smugly. With that, I strode back to the cubbies, armed myself with two pens and my binder stuffed with ready-to-access forms, a list of essential phone numbers and notepaper. The rest of the shift was quiet and uneventful.