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0951 Parts of a Hospital

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Complete Transcript
Welcome to English as a Second Language Podcast number 951 – Parts of a Hospital.

This is English as a Second Language Podcast episode 951. I’m your host, Dr. Jeff McQuillan, coming to you from the Center for Educational Development in beautiful Los Angeles, California.

Our website is ESLPod.com. Go there, become a member of ESL Podcast, and download a learning guide for this episode.

This episode is a dialogue that takes place at a hospital about the parts of a hospital. Let’s get started.

[start of dialogue]

Jordan: Excuse me, my girlfriend was brought into the hospital about two hours ago, but I can’t find her.

Admissions Clerk: Why was she brought into the hospital?

Jordan: I’m not sure. I got a call from her coworker, but she didn’t give me any details.

Admissions Clerk: If it weren’t an accident, then she wouldn’t be in the emergency room or the trauma unit.

Jordan: It may have been her heart. She has a heart condition.

Admissions Clerk: Then she might be in the cardiology department. If she is in severe condition, she’ll be in the ICU.

Jordan: It may also be the baby. She’s pregnant.

Admissions Clerk: Then she might be in the obstetrics and gynecology department. And if the baby has been born, it would be in the neonatal unit.

Jordan: I’m just not sure where to go. Maybe I’ll start in the cardiology department.

Admissions Clerk: That’s fine. Go past the neurology and oncology departments and it’s on your right. If you see the burn unit, then you’ve gone too far.

Jordan: You can’t look her up for me to see if she’s been admitted?

Admissions Clerk: I’m sorry, but our computer systems are down right now. If you wait until they’re up again, I can try to find her for you.

Jordan: And go out of my mind worrying? No thanks. I’m going to find her, even if I have to look behind every bedpan!

[end of dialogue]

Our dialogue begins by Jordan saying to an employee of the hospital, “Excuse me, my girlfriend was brought into the hospital about two hours ago, but I can’t find her.” Jordan is speaking to the admissions clerk. If you are “admitted” to a hospital, that means that you are formally registered, usually to stay overnight or to stay for a longer period in the hospital. The person who takes care of the paperwork – of getting your information, your insurance documents, and so forth – is called the “admissions clerk.” The word “admissions” comes from the verb “to admit” – to let into.

The admissions clerk says, “Why was she brought into the hospital?” Jordan says, “I’m not sure. I got a call from her coworker, but she didn’t give me any details.” The admission’s clerk says, “If it weren’t an accident, then she wouldn’t be in the emergency room or the trauma unit.” The emergency room in a hospital – sometimes called the “ER,” by its initials – is the part of the hospital that treats or takes care of people who have very serious or dangerous medical problems that need to be treated right away.

If you break your leg or you have a cut in your arm and it’s bleeding, you would go to the emergency room. You can’t wait to make an appointment to go see your doctor next week; you have to go right now. A “trauma (trauma) unit” is a part of a hospital that takes care of people who have injuries like a broken leg, but not illnesses like influenza or some other disease. Trauma units take care of people who have had accidents – physical injuries that usually result from some activity such as playing sports or driving a car and getting in a car accident, that sort of thing.

Jordan says, “It may have been her heart. She has a heart condition.” A “heart condition” is when you have some problem with your heart, some problem that might be serious enough for you to go to go to a hospital, for example. People who have heart conditions can have a lot of different things wrong with the heart. It’s just a general term. The admissions clerk then says, “Then she might be in the cardiology department.” “Cardiology” (cardiology) is an area of medicine that deals with the heart. It’s the area of medicine that is concerned with the heart.

The clerk says, “If she is in severe condition, she’ll be in the ICU.” The “ICU” is the “intensive care unit.” The word “unit” in a hospital just means the section or area. Intensive care is when someone is very sick, perhaps even close to dying, and so you need someone to be watching over them, to be looking after them, 24 hours a day. The intensive care unit is where people go with all sorts of different kinds of illnesses and problems, but who are all in danger of dying, really.

Jordan says, “It may also be the baby. She’s pregnant.” “To be pregnant” (pregnant) means you are expecting a baby. You are expecting a child. The situation in this dialogue, as in other dialogues, is meant to reflect the changes that have taken place, in some cases, in the U.S. These are situations that are not necessarily the same as in other countries or, for that matter, even a few years ago here in the U.S. It has become common in past 20 years for a larger percentage of women to get pregnant before they get married and even have children before they are married.

The admissions clerk says, “Then she might be in the obstetrics and gynecology department.” “Obstetrics” (obstetrics) is the area of medicine related to childbirth, to the care of women who are pregnant and are having a baby. “Gynecology” (gynecology) is the area of medicine that deals with illnesses and diseases affecting girls and women – affecting females. A man would not go to a gynecology department . . . unless you were the doctor in the gynecology department. If you need more explanations about this, you can talk to your own doctor, or maybe your parents.

The admissions clerk says, “If the baby has been born” – and of course, one would think Jordan would know if that were about to happen – “it would be in the neonatal unit.” “Neonatal” (neonatal) is the part of the hospital that takes care of babies who have been born very recently, usually within, say, 24 hours of the birth. Jordan, who is quite clearly a confused person at this point, says, “I’m not sure where to go.” Of course, it seems unlikely that the girlfriend wouldn’t have a telephone – a cell phone – nowadays, but well, Jordan apparently doesn’t think of that.

He says, “Maybe I’ll start in the cardiology department.” The admissions clerk says, “That’s fine” – okay – “Go past the neurology and oncology departments and it’s on your right.” The “neurology (neurology) department” is the part of the hospital that takes care of people who have problems with their brain and what is called the “nervous system.” The “nervous system” is the way that the body communicates messages, or the brain communicates messages, to the rest of the body, you could say. So, if you have problems with your brain, like my neighbor, then you might be in the neurology department.

There’s also a part of the hospital called an “oncology (oncology) department.” An “oncology department” takes care of people who have cancer. The admissions clerk says, “If you see the burn unit, then you’ve gone too far.” In other words, if you are walking down the hallway of the hospital, and you see something called the “burn unit,” you’ve walked too far. You have to turn around and go back. The “burn (burn) unit” is the part of the hospital that treats people who have been burned by fire or some other hot object.

Jordan says, “You can’t look her up for me to see if she’s been admitted?” Jordan is asking the admissions clerk if she can give him that information by looking it up. “To look someone up” is a phrasal verb meaning to search for that person – usually, nowadays, in a database that is in a computer. “To be admitted,” as we mentioned earlier, means to be formally taken into and registered at a hospital. Jordan wants to know if the admissions clerk can just look up the information for him.

That isn’t always possible, especially if you’re not a family member. In fact, in many hospitals there are strict rules about the kind of information you can get by talking to the admissions office, but that doesn’t seem to be the problem here. The admissions clerk says, “I’m sorry, but our computer systems are down right now.” When we say the “computer systems are down,” we mean the computer isn’t working again. She says, “If you wait until they’re up again, I can try to find her for you” – if you wait until the computer systems are working, then the admissions clerk says she can try to find the girlfriend for Jordan.

Jordan says, “And go out of my mind worrying?” “To go out of your mind” means to go crazy, to become irrational – usually because you’re very worried or anxious about something. Jordan says, “No thanks. I’m going to find her, even if I have to look behind every bedpan.” A “bedpan” (bedpan) – one word – is a small container that is used for people basically to do what they would normally do in a bathroom. But if they can’t get out of their bed, they need somewhere “to go,” we would say informally. That is what a bedpan is.

What Jordan is really saying is that he’s going to look everywhere to find her, instead of just waiting for the computer system to come back up.

Now let’s listen to the dialogue, this time at a normal speed.

[start of dialogue]

Jordan: Excuse me, my girlfriend was brought into the hospital about two hours ago, but I can’t find her.

Admissions Clerk: Why was she bought into the hospital?

Jordan: I’m not sure. I got a call from her coworker, but she didn’t give me any details.

Admissions Clerk: If it weren’t an accident, then she wouldn’t be in the emergency room or the trauma unit.

Jordan: It may have been her heart. She has a heart condition.

Admissions Clerk: Then she might be in the cardiology department. If she is in severe condition, she’ll be in the ICU.

Jordan: It may also be the baby. She’s pregnant.

Admissions Clerk: Then she might be in the obstetrics and gynecology department. And if the baby has been born, it would be in the neonatal unit.

Jordan: I’m just not sure where to go. Maybe I’ll start in the cardiology department.

Admissions Clerk: That’s fine. Go past the neurology and oncology departments and it’s on your right. If you see the burn unit, then you’ve gone too far.

Jordan: You can’t look her up for me to see if she’s been admitted?

Admissions Clerk: I’m sorry, but our computer systems are down right now. If you wait until they’re up again, I can try to find her for you.

Jordan: And go out of my mind worrying? No thanks. I’m going to find her, even if I have to look behind every bedpan!

[end of dialogue]

You don’t need to look up the name of our scriptwriter anywhere – I’ll tell you: it’s Dr. Lucy Tse.

From Los Angeles, California, I’m Jeff McQuillan. Thank you for listening. Come back and listen to us again right here on ESL Podcast.

English as a Second Language Podcast was written and produced by Dr. Lucy Tse, hosted by Dr. Jeff McQuillan. Copyright 2013 by the Center for Educational Development.

Glossary
emergency room – the part of a hospital that treats people with serious, dangerous, and unexpected medical problems

* If you’re having chest pain, go to the emergency room right away because it could be a hear attack.

trauma unit – the part of a hospital that treats people with injuries (not illnesses)

* The trauma unit sees a lot of student athletes, especially football players.

heart condition – a weakness or other problem in the heart (the part of the body that pumps to move blood)

* Eating a lot of salt will increase his blood pressure and make his heart condition worse.

cardiology – the area of medicine dealing with the heart

* We are taking Joanna to see a doctor in the cardiology department at the children’s hospital.

ICU – intensive care unit; the part of a hospital that provides specialized care and treatments for people who are very sick and need almost constant attention

* Normally, visitors are welcome in the hospital, but in the ICU, only close family members can come, and only for one hour each day.

pregnant – expecting a child; with a baby growing inside a woman’s body

* As soon a Becca found out she was pregnant, she started buying baby clothes and decorating the nursery.

obstetrics – the area of medicine related to childbirth and the care of women who are pregnant and giving birth

* Are husbands allowed to be in the obstetrics department, or do they have to wait in the lobby until the babies are born?

gynecology – the area of medicine dealing with illness and diseases affecting girls and women, especially involving the female reproductive system (functions related to having babies)

* Doctors specializing in gynecology have to know a lot about sexually transmitted diseases.

neonatal – newborn; referring to a baby that was born very recently (usually within a few hours or days of birth)

* You can’t see the baby yet because she’s being checked by doctors in the neonatal ward.

neurology – the area of medicine related to the study of the brain and the nervous system (how messages are sent through the body for movement and sensation)

* A neurology exam revealed that Shannon’s problems with her legs are related to damaged nerves.

oncology – the area of medicine related to the study of cancer and tumors (a part of the body that grows uncontrollably)

* The doctor found a suspicious lump in Kimi’s left breast, so she referred her to the oncology department.

burn unit – the part of a hospital that treats people who have been burned by fire or very hot objects

* After his car exploded, Vladimir was in the burn unit for several days while doctors treated his injuries.

to look (someone or something) up – to search for a name or word in a list or database; to conduct research to find a particular piece of information

* Have you tried looking up Kirk’s number in the phone book?

to admit – to complete paperwork so that someone can come into a hospital or clinic as a patient

* Yes, sir, I realize you’re in pain, but you have to answer these questions and sign these papers before I can admit you and arrange for the doctor to see you.

to go out of (one’s) mind – to go crazy; to become irrational and illogical, especially because one is very worried or anxious about something

* Am I going out of my mind, or did I just see a giraffe walking down Main Street?

bedpan – a basin or other small container used to hold urine (pee) and feces (poop) from someone who must stay in bed and cannot get up to use the bathroom

* Henry has always been independent, and now that he’s sick, he’s very uncomfortable seeing his wife change his bedpan for him.

Comprehension Questions
1. In which part of the hospital are you most likely to find a newborn baby?
a) The emergency room
b) The neonatal unit
c) The burn unit

2. Which branch of medicine studies the human heart?
a) Cardiology
b) Gynecology
c) Neurology

Answers at bottom.

What Else Does It Mean?
unit

The word “unit,” in this podcast, means a department or one part of a hospital or clinic, as well as the people working there: “The pediatrics unit has brightly painted walls and lots of toys for the children to play with.” When talking about an apartment complex, a “unit” is one apartment: “We live in Building E, Unit 4.” A “unit” is also used to talk about measurements: “Feet and yards are units of length.” Or, “How can I convert units from grams to ounces?” When talking about manufacturing, “units” are the number of items that have been made: “On a good day, we can produce up to 3,000 units per hour.” Finally, a “family unit” is a group of related people who live together: “What percentage of our students live in a traditional family unit with two parents?”

to look (someone or something) up

In this podcast, the phrase “to look (someone or something) up” means to search for a name or word in a list or database: “If you don’t know the meaning of a word, look it up in a dictionary.” The phrase “to look in on (someone)” means to visit someone and check up on him/her, especially if that person is sick: “Could you please look in on grandma at least once a week?” The phrase “to look (something) over” means to review something quickly, but not in great detail: “Could you please look over these calculations and check to see if they’re correct?” Finally, the phrase “to look forward to (something)” means to anticipate and want something to happen: “We’re really looking forward to your visit next month!”

Culture Note
Types of Hospitals

When people think of hospitals, they usually think of a “general hospital” that is prepared to deal with many types of diseases and injuries. General hospitals usually have an emergency room and they are prepared to admit patients from a single area. Some of these hospitals are “non-profit” (organizations that work for a particular purpose, but not primarily to make money), often organized by a church. But other general hospitals have a traditional “business model” (operational plans designed to make money).

Other types of hospitals are more specialized. For example, many large cities have “children’s hospitals” that focus on “pediatrics” (medicine for children).

A “teaching hospital” provides medical treatments, but is closely “affiliated with” (connected to) a medical school or a nursing school. Doctors and nurses are on staff, but they work alongside “medical students” (students who want to become doctors) and nursing students, giving them “hands-on experience” (learning by doing, not by reading or hearing about something) with patients. Patients may receive treatments from students operating under the “supervision” (observation and monitoring) of “licensed” (with official permission to do something) healthcare providers.

Finally, a “research hospital” also provides medical treatments, but the doctors are actively “engaged” (involved) in research projects. Patients may be asked to “give their permission” (say that something is okay) for “experimental treatments” (treatments that have not been performed often and whose results are not yet known).

Comprehension Answers
1 - b

2 - a