Sunday, March 27, 2005

Times Have Changed

I was reminded of this incident when I delivered a computer to a local doctor over the weekend. We were discussing the tremendous growth that has occurred in the Verde Valley and how the medical community has expanded over the last several years.

In 1986, I was out hiking with my boys along Dry Creek, just west of Sedona. We had parked at the bridge over Hwy 89A and were walking along the creek bed. While resetting the safety on the .22 auto that we were using to break up a group of very dangerous pebbles, the pistol fired. Since I was being very careless and not paying attention to the direction of the muzzle, the Fates taught me, and my boys, a lesson. The little bullet went into my left calf. It entered at a downward angle, splintered the little bone in the rear and then bounced out, lodging just under the skin about 4 inches above my ankle.

After the appropriate amount of cursing, the boys walked and I limped out to the truck. There we proceeded to drive to Cottonwood and the Marcus J. Lawrence Hospital (now Verde Valley Medical Center) Emergency Room.

Since we were driving a 1979 Scout with a clutch that took about 5000 pounds of force to depress, this was a rather trying trip. We arrived at the ER at about 3:00 on a Saturday afternoon. I parked the car and hobbled in.

Now this is where things have changed.

As I entered the waiting room, I found that there was nobody waiting and no staff in sight. I had to walk up to the reception window and ring a bell, like checking into a cheap motel. A nurse, I think, came around the corner and asked, “Can I help you?”

If any of you have had the occasion to go to an emergency room on a Saturday afternoon, you will know that, even in a small town, you will usually encounter a number of patients and a busy staff. Certainly, in 2005, the Cottonwood ER is almost never empty and there is a professional staff of physicians and nurses available. In 1986 there was one nurse and one doctor. I received prompt treatment, gales of laughter from my wife, on the phone and pain killers for after I got home.

I like to tell this story to recent arrivals in the area to illustrate just how far this little ranching community has come. From selling CP/M “portable” computers, we have evolved to installing complete networks, building high performance workstations and mission critical servers. Last year, we even setup a VPN from a local company to a field office in China! Our little community is engaged in international trade.

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