Sacred Trust

Sacred Trust

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by Hannah Alexander
     
 

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Dr. Lukas Bower believes in God, the Hippocratic Oath and doing the right thing. Lukas won't prescribe drugs to an addict just because he's the son of a hospital board member. Or let an obese man die because he doesn't have insurance. Lukas didn't play hospital politics at his former job, and he won't in this small-town Missouri emergency department. One very… See more details below

Overview



Dr. Lukas Bower believes in God, the Hippocratic Oath and doing the right thing. Lukas won't prescribe drugs to an addict just because he's the son of a hospital board member. Or let an obese man die because he doesn't have insurance. Lukas didn't play hospital politics at his former job, and he won't in this small-town Missouri emergency department. One very attractive colleague seems to appreciate Lukas's commitment to honor and truth. But Dr. Mercy Richmond's feelings will be tested when her child is brought into Lukas's E.R., putting her sacred trust, her heart—and her daughter's life—in his hands.

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
When Lukas Bower accepts a position as ER doctor in Knolls, MO, he manages to make enemies before he sets foot in the hospital. The senior doctor feels threatened, a hospital benefactress dislikes the way Lukas handles her dying mother, and a member of the hospital board is furious at the suggestion that his son is an addict. Dr. Mercy Richmond doesn't know what to make of the new guy and his discussions with patients about God, but he gradually draws her out of her shell and gives her the courage to face her ex-husband in a custody battle she hopes to win this time. Alexander (The Healing Promise) expects readers to know what the medical slang stands for (e.g., DNR, blood gas, epi, CT), but her story is enjoyable nonetheless. Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781426838576
Publisher:
Steeple Hill Books
Publication date:
08/01/2009
Series:
Steeple Hill Single Title
Sold by:
HARLEQUIN
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
256
Sales rank:
262,405
File size:
0 MB

Read an Excerpt

A delicate carpet of spring-green crept across the central Arkansas-Missouri border. The buds of serviceberry and dogwood had clothed their trees in pristine white just in time to welcome Dr. Lukas Bower to his new place of residence in Knolls, Missouri. He refused to call it home yet. After his most recent experiences in the job market, he couldn't place his trust in these strangers. Nevertheless, nestled between patchwork properties of Mark Twain National Forest, this Ozark community of ten thousand promised to meet the needs of a country boy who loved the outdoors, especially hiking. When he had driven down from Kansas City to check out the area, the first order of business, before interviewing for the position of full-time emergency room physician, was to count the logging trails and off-road-vehicle paths that crisscrossed the forest. He'd even followed several of the trails in his Jeep. By the time he'd appeared for the interview with Mrs. Estelle Pinkley, the hospital administrator, he was sold on the place.

He was just finishing his usual morning repast of grease and eggs in the hospital cafeteria when the phone rang for him. He recognized the voice of an emergency room registered nurse.

"Dr. Bower, this is Beverly. We have a man by the name of Jacob Casey on his way here in his own car. He says he's been bitten by his pet cat. He sounds pretty excited about it."

Lukas frowned. "His cat bit him?"

"I gathered that the bite was pretty bad," answered the RN.

"Rabies?"

"He specifically said there were no rabies. From the way he talked, the secretary thinks he's been here before."

"Okay, Beverly, I'll be there shortly. Would you please pull his chart?" How muchdamage could a house pet do?

"But I've got good news," she said. "We'll have double nursing coverage through the noon rush."

"As far as I know, this cat bite is the noon rush."

Beverly chuckled. "Don't worry, when Lauren and I do a double-coverage shift together, we always have some excitement."

"I'll trust your judgment." Lukas hung up and took the one-minute walk to the emergency room.

He stepped in to find everything quiet. "Beverly, did Mr. Casey estimate how long it would take him to—"

The sudden blare of a car horn interrupted him and continued, obnoxiously loud.

"What on earth…?" Beverly walked through the open E.R. entrance and disappeared down the hallway. In less than fifteen seconds the honking stopped. Beverly came running back.

"Dr. Bower, Carol, I need your help." She reached for one of the two gurneys sitting just inside the entrance.

"There's a man parked in the ambulance bay who looks like he's bleeding all over the place. He's alone." She pushed the gurney out the door, with Lukas and Carol, the secretary, close behind.

By the time they reached the bay, the forty-odd-year-old man had opened his door and now clung to it desperately as he tried to get to his feet.

"Can't seem to stand up," he grated in a deep voice. His face was the color of recycled paper, and even his lips looked bloodless. "Cat bit me."

Lukas, Beverly and Carol grabbed him and eased him onto the gurney.

Beverly gaped at him, then at the blood around his upper right thigh. "A cat did this?"

He held out a set of keys to her. "I always wanted a beautiful redhead to drive my Mustang. Take good care of her." His eyes shut and his head dropped sideways.

"Let's get him inside." Lukas closed the car door. "Beverly, give those keys to Carol. She can drive this car out of the way and park it as soon as we get him transferred to a bed."

"Oh, come on!" Beverly protested. "He told me I could take care of it."

"He needs you worse than his car does." Lukas held out his hand as they pushed the gurney through the automatic sliding glass doors. "The keys, please."

Beverly curled her lip at him, but handed over the set of keys. "I've never driven a Mustang before."

"Thank you." Lukas handed them to Carol. "Would you do the honors? Beverly, let's get an IV established on this man immediately, and we need to get his clothes off and see where the blood is coming from."

While they worked on him, the double-coverage nurse arrived. Lauren groaned when she saw Beverly. "We'll be swamped." Even as she spoke, the ambulance radio blared. She pulled her long, blond hair into a ponytail and fastened it as she sat down at the desk to take the call.

In fifteen minutes, the emergency room was nearly full. The man in exam room seven had a deep laceration in his right forearm from an industrial accident. Lukas called industrial accidents his "graveyard specials," because they happened most often during the predawn hours when the need for sleep was at its highest. Lukas used them as an example when arguing against twenty-four-hour shifts for emergency room physicians. This patient had worked since midnight, having had no sleep the day before. Dangerous?

A high school track student in room two had a possible broken wrist. The E.R. staff was waiting for parental consent to treat, enduring endless telephone calls from classmates to check on the patient's progress while the track coach searched for the completed consent form. Naturally the parents were out of town for the day.

A baby in room three had a red ear, and Lukas was still trying to decide if it was serious enough to treat with an antibiotic. The young mother had come in crying almost as loudly as her baby, and for a while no one had known which of them was here for treatment.

Two unwashed females stood out at the reception desk complaining loudly because they hadn't been treated yet for their head lice.

"No, you did not ‘wimp out,' Mr. Casey." Lukas stood beside the bed of their first arrival, thirty minutes after they'd wheeled him in. The man still looked weak, although his color had improved. "You lost a couple of pints of blood. Your loving pet nicked an artery in your thigh." He indicated Casey's bare leg.

Lukas traced the stablike wounds on the inside of Casey's right thigh. "That's some cat."

"This is just a love bite, Doc. My name's Jake, or Cowboy, but don't call me Mr. Casey."

"A love bite?"

"Male African lion."

"A pet?"

"Had him for four years, since he was a cub. I raise exotic animals for parks and zoos, but I kept Leonardo. He's good company."

"When he's not eating various parts of your anatomy. You must live alone."

"How'd you guess?"

Beverly entered the trauma room to recheck Cowboy's vitals and help Lukas finish irrigating the wound.

Covered in nothing but a towel, Cowboy's whole body blushed. "Uh, Doc, I'd be grateful if you could spare one of those skimpy hospital gowns. It'd cover a whole lot more."

Lukas grinned at him. "I think that could be arranged." He glanced at Beverly. He had already seen the way Cowboy looked at her—and the way she looked back. "Maybe I should help him dress."

"You don't have time," Beverly said. "I hear the ambulance phone now, and we have a mom out in the waiting room with three children she wants to have checked out for sore throats and earaches."

"How long before our surgeon arrives?" Lukas asked.

Beverly wrote down Cowboy's vitals on a clipboard. "Any minute now, Dr. Bower. He laughed when I told him who it was. He says he's had this patient before." She grinned at Cowboy. "I hear you're pretty adventurous."

He returned her smile and blushed again. "The folks I work with aren't always predictable. Dr. Wong took care of a gash I got in the head when a scared zebra kicked me." He looked at Lukas. "But why do I need a surgeon for this bite? Can't you just sew me up and let me get home? Leonardo will be hungry before long, and he's probably worried."

"Good," Beverly said. "Let him worry. Maybe he'll remember this the next time he confuses you with a beefsteak."

"Sorry, Cowboy," Lukas said. "Leonardo bit into a deep artery. That's surgeon territory."

"But you've stopped the bleeding."

"With pressure. When we remove the pressure, we'll be leaving an unstable wound that can burst open at any time. You've lost enough blood already. You can't afford to lose more."

"But, Dr. Bower—"

"Listen to your doctor." Beverly laid a hand on Cowboy's arm. "He knows what he's doing. Besides, if you're too eager to get out of here, we'll think you don't like our company." She winked at him. "You never want to offend your local emergency department personnel. You can't tell when you'll need them." She dug into her pocket and pulled out the set of keys she had retrieved from Carol. "I'll make a deal with you. If you'll let me drive your car and give me some instructions, I'll go out to your place when I get off work and feed Leonardo for you."

Both men stared at her.

"Uh, Beverly," Lukas said, "you do realize we're talking about an African lion."

"I heard through the crack of the door. Besides, I've read the chart."

"Sorry," Cowboy said in his gravelly voice. "No way am I sending a pretty female out to do the job I should've done. Get a man to feed Leonardo, and you can drive him out there in my car."

Lukas expected Beverly, with her obviously independent spirit, to spit fire. Instead, she gazed bemusedly at Cowboy and nodded. "I'll see what I can do."

Someone approached the trauma room entrance. "Dr. Bower?" It was Lauren's voice.

"Oh, Doc, please," Cowboy said. "I'm still practically naked here. Don't give me an audience."

Lukas slipped through the partially open door, leaving Cowboy his privacy. "Yes?"

"We have an elderly man in exam room one who has just been brought in unresponsive."

"I'll be right there." He rechecked Cowboy's wound, then crossed to exam room one, where Lauren was rushing through the vitals of an unconscious, toothless elderly man in his pajamas, who was already hooked to a monitor and a nonrebreather oxygen mask.

A worried-looking woman in her thirties stood at the patient's side, her eyes puffy and red from crying.

"Hello, I'm Dr. Bower," he said to the woman. "Are you his daughter? Granddaughter?"

"No, I'm Shelly, Frankie's neighbor. My children go over to see him every day, and today they found him like this on the floor of his living room. I think he'd been trying to call someone, because the telephone receiver was off the hook and lying beside him."

"Did you bring him in by yourself?"

"Another neighbor helped me get him into the van. We should have called an ambulance, but I just didn't think. We only live four blocks from the hospital."

Lukas adjusted his stethoscope and did a quick auscultation of the man's chest. He had mild tachycardia and slow respiration. His skin was pale and cool to the touch. A quick check of his head and upper body revealed no signs of injury. Lukas didn't smell alcohol.

"Lauren, let's get a bedside glucose on him."

"Yes, Doctor. We have a new patient in room eight who needs you next." She lowered her voice. "It's cancer. She's a DNR."

Lukas grimaced. Those were the hardest. "Okay, thank you, Lauren." He checked Frankie's eyes. The man had good papillary sparing. Lukas quickly but gently turned the patient's head, holding his eyes open. The eyes remained fixed on the ceiling. Positive doll's eyes told him that this was either drug related or that there was bilateral brain swelling.

"Shelly, has he been ill recently? A cold? Flu?"

"No. Yesterday he was fine. He always brags about never getting sick."

"Does he ever drink?"

"You mean liquor? Never." She held out two prescription bottles. "I brought these. I found them on the bureau in his bedroom. His bottle is almost full, but the other one is empty. It belonged to his wife. She died last year."

Lukas took the bottles from her and glanced at the names of the drugs. Both were benzodiazepines for sleep. He glanced at the patient and didn't like what he was thinking.

"Blood sugar's 125, Dr. Bower," Lauren said.

"Thank you." He glanced again at Shelly, hating to ask his next question. "These are tranquilizers. Is it possible he might have taken an overdose of his wife's prescription?"

Her eyes widened with alarm. "On purpose? No way! I don't even want to consider it. He's so good with the kids, and he never seems depressed. He was doing so well after his wife, Doris, died."

Lukas was also reluctant to believe this kindly looking older gentleman would do anything so drastic. He'd probably flushed his wife's pills after her death. But what if he hadn't?

"He hasn't talked about going to be with his wife lately?" he asked Shelly.

"No."

"Has he displayed any changes in his normal habits, like changes in sleep time or amount? Changes in eating habits? Has he given any of his personal items, such as jewelry, to friends or neighbors?"

"Nothing that I know about."

"How long ago did his wife die?"

"About eight months ago. Long enough for him to show signs of depression if he's going to, I would think."

"Not necessarily. A wedding anniversary could have set him off, or her birthday, anything of significance to him." Lukas was well aware of this because his own father had gone through a similar depression after Mom's death. So had Lukas, though not as severe as Dad's.

"But they had just celebrated their wedding anniversary before she died," Shelly said. "And her birthday was two weeks before their anniversary. We celebrated it with them."

"Okay, thank you, Shelly. Lauren, set him up for a CBC, a comprehensive chemistry panel, a portable chest, and a drug screen. Then set up a heplock. I want him to have a milligram of Romazicon at 0.2 milligrams per minute. We'll repeat the dose after twenty minutes."

"What's that for, Doctor?" Shelly asked.

"Romazicon is the antidote for benzodiazepine overdose, just in case." At her blank look, he explained gently, "He may have taken too many of these tranquilizers. I don't want to dismiss the possibility and take a chance on being wrong."

He glanced at Frankie's prescription bottle again. Dr. Robert Simeon had prescribed the drug. "Lauren, also put a call in to Dr. Simeon's office. He's the family doc. I'm going to check on Cowboy, then look in on the cancer patient. Would you see if that permission to treat has come in for the track student? We'll need a CT head scan on Frankie if our workup is negative."

Dr. Wong entered the E.R. and greeted Lukas with a cheery smile and warm handshake. "Lukas, I hear you have one of my favorite patients visiting with you this morning."

"Yes, and your patient is already asking for some clothes. Beverly will assist you."

As soon as Cowboy was settled with his new doctor, Lukas heard Beverly's cajoling voice through the door.

"Dr. Wong, you're a kindhearted person," she said. "What time do you get off?"

"Um, excuse me? Hold it, Beverly, you know I'm married."

"I know that, silly. How would you like to help out a hungry house pet?"

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