Dewey Health Center: 24/7

It is 3:00 AM and you are woken out of a deep sleep by the sudden shrill ring of the telephone.  Heart pounding, you answer it only to hear your Deerfield child’s voice on the other end, barely audible as he or she is fighting back tears, asking for your help.  “Mom, my ear is killing me and I am burning up with fever. I already took Motrin and it isn’t working.  What should I do?” 

Having a junior and a senior at Deerfield, I was surprised when I didn’t immediately know how to respond.  If I told my son to go to the Health Center, he would set off the alarms in his dorm creating chaos for all the residents.  And, would he even be allowed to just walk into the Health Center at that hour?  If I told him to wait until morning, his condition could be serious by then and I had no way to assess it over the phone.  I told him I would call him right back and immediately called the Health Center.

The nurse on duty answered my call in half a ring.  She was awake, alert and responded as if it were 3:00 in the afternoon (whereas I could barely form a coherent sentence).  I explained my son’s condition and his extreme ear pain.  She told me to have him get ready to come to the Health Center and wait in the common room of his dorm.  She was calling Security to have them pick him up and escort him to the Health Center.

I stayed on the phone with my son as he headed to the common room.  Security was waiting for him as he got there.  I think maybe three minutes had transpired between my hanging up with the nurse and Security arriving.  I live in NYC and that is faster than any ambulance could do!

I learned a few things from this experience that will come in handy if you ever are in the same situation.  The first is that someone is always on duty in the Health Center. You should keep the direct dial number of the Health Center in your phone so you can access it immediately without having to go through the main switchboard. That number is (413) 774-1600. You may also want to give that number to your son or daughter so they have it in case there is ever a problem in the middle of the night.  It is also important to know that all the dorms have alarms that get set off if a door is opened in the middle of the night. The only way to leave a dorm after hours is to be escorted by Security. It is thus also helpful to know the direct dial number of security, which is (413) 772-9880.

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