Read Critical Care Online

Authors: Candace Calvert

Tags: #General Fiction

Critical Care

 
PRAISE FOR CRITICAL CARE

"Good-bye, ER. Hello, Critical Care! Candace Calvert delivers a
wonderful medical romance that peeks inside the doors of an ER to discover
a cast of real-life characters who learn to love and live and discover God's
truths, all in the high-stress world of medicine. If you like ER and House,
you'll love Logan and Claire and their friends at Sierra Mercy. Give me
another dose, and soon!"

+++ SUSAN MAY WARREN, award-winning author of Happily
Ever After and Nothing but Trouble

"I've always said if I weren't an author, I'd be in the medical field, so
it's no wonder I ate up Candace Calvert's new book Critical Care. I lived and
breathed the problems and struggles in the ER along with the characters.
Terrific story and terrific writing. Can't wait for the next one!"

+++ COLLEEN COBLE, author of Cry in the Night and Lonestar
Secrets

"Finally, a reason to turn off ER and Grey's Anatomy. Here is a realistic
medical drama with heart. Candace Calvert gets it right with page-turning
prose, a heartwarming love story, and hope. Don't make us wait too long
for the next one!"

+++ HARRY KRAUS, MD, best-selling author of Salty Like Blood and
Could I Have This Dance?

Visit Tyndale's exciting Web site at www.tyndale.com Visit Candace Calvert's Web site at www.candacecalvert.com TYNDALE and Tyndale's quill logo are registered trademarks of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. Critical Care

Copyright © 2009 by Candace Calvert. All rights reserved. Cover photograph of X-ray lab copyright © by Photo Alto/Vincent Hazat/Jupiter Images. All rights reserved. Cover photograph of woman copyright © by Image Source/Jupiter Images. All rights reserved. Cover photograph of man copyright © by Peter Barrett/Masterfile. All rights reserved.

Author photo copyright © 2008 by Franklin Price at Foto by Frankeen. All rights reserved. Designed by Mark Anthony Lane II Edited by Lorie Popp Published in association with the literary agency of Natasha Kern Literary Agency, Inc., P.O. Box 1069, White Salmon, WA 98672. Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. NIV®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved. This novel is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, organizations, or persons living or dead is entirely coincidental and beyond the intent of either the author or the publisher. Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Calvert, Candace, date. Critical care / Candace Calvert. p. cm. - (Mercy Hospital ; no. 1) ISBN 978-1-4143-2543-9 (sc) 1. Nurses-Fiction. I. Title. P53603.A4463C75 2009 813'.6-dc22 2008050285

Printed in the United States of America 15 14 13 12 11 10 09 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

For Elizabeth Dewante
Artist, loving mother, and wonderful woman of faith.
You've blessed my life.

 
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

Heartfelt appreciation to:

Agent Natasha Kern-for encouraging me to follow my heart.

Tyndale House editors Jan Stob and Lorie Popp-I'm honored
to be part of the team.

Talented critique partner Nancy Herriman-your friendship
and help ... priceless.

Nurse Linda Roberts-"To get through it, you've got to go
through it." Wise words, dear friend.

Barbara Jamieson, RN, and Tim Sturgill, MD-I appreciate your
willingness to look over my medical scenes. Any inaccuracies are
mine alone.

Methodist Hospital of Sacramento-my second home and special family for so many years.

Fellow nurses and medical professionals-inspirational heroes
all. Hang in there; we need you.

St. Helena's Church, the awesome women's Bible study, and
Community of Hope-thank you.

My incredible children and grandchildren-your enthusiasm
and support mean so much.

My wonderful husband, Andy Calvert-you've made me
believe in happy endings.

Don't die, little girl.

Dr. Logan Caldwell pressed the heel of his hand against Amy
Hester's chest, taking over heart compressions in a last attempt
to save the child's life. Her small sternum hollowed and recoiled
under his palm at a rate of one hundred times per minute, the best
he could do to mimic her natural heartbeat. A respiratory therapist
forced air into her lungs.

Don't die. Logan glanced up at the ER resuscitation clock, ticking on without mercy. Twenty-seven minutes since they'd begun
the code. No heartbeat. Not once. Time to quit but ...

He turned to his charge nurse, Erin Quinn, very aware of the
insistent wail of sirens in the distance. "Last dose of epi?"

"Three minutes ago."

"Give another." Logan halted compressions, his motionless
hand easily spanning the width of the two-year-old's chest. He
watched until satisfied with the proficiency of the therapist's ventilations, then turned back to the cardiac monitor and frowned. Asystole-flatline. Flogging this young heart with atropine and repeated
doses of epinephrine wasn't going to do it. A pacemaker, pointless.
She'd been deprived of oxygen far too long before rescue.

Logan pushed his palm into Amy's sternum again and gritted his teeth against images of a terrified little girl hiding in a toy cupboard as her day care burned in a suffocating cloud of smoke, amid
the chaos of two dozen other burned and panicking children.

"Epi's on board," Erin reported, sweeping an errant strand of
coppery hair away from her face. She pressed two fingers against
the child's arm to locate the brachial pulse and raised her gaze to
the doctor's. "You're generating a good pulse with compressions,
but..."

But she's dead. With reluctance, Logan lifted his hand from
the child's chest. He studied the monitor display and then nodded at the blonde nurse standing beside the crash cart. "Run me
rhythm strips in three leads, Sarah." After he drew in a slow breath
of air still acrid with the residue of smoke, he glanced down at
Amy Hester, her cheeks unnaturally rosy from the effects of carbon
monoxide, glossy brown curls splayed against the starched hospital
linen. Dainty purple flower earrings. Blue eyes, glazed and halflidded. Tiny chin. And lips-pink as a Valentine cupid-pursed
around the rigid breathing tube, as if it were a straw in a snack-time
juice box. Picture-perfect ... and gone.

He signaled for the ventilations to stop and checked the code
clock again. "Time of death-9:47."

There was a long stretch of silence, and Logan used it to make
his exit, turning his back to avoid another glance at the child on
the gurney ... and the expressions on the faces of his team. No
good came from dwelling on tragedy. He knew that too well. Best
to move on with what he had to do. He'd almost reached the doorway when Erin caught his arm.

"We've put Amy's parents and grandmother in the quiet room
the way you asked," she confirmed, her green eyes conveying
empathy for him as well. "I can send Sarah with you, if-"

"No. I'll handle it myself," Logan said, cutting her off. His tone
was brusquer than he'd intended, but he just wanted this over
with. "We need Sarah here." He tensed at a child's shrill cry in the
trauma room beyond, followed by the squawk of the base station
radio announcing an ambulance. "There are at least five more kids
coming in from the propane explosion. We'll need extra staff to
do more than pass out boxes of Kleenex. I want nurses who know
what they're doing. Get them for me."

Why am I here?

Claire Avery winced as a child's painful cry echoed up the Sierra
Mercy emergency department corridor and blended with the wail
of sirens. Almost an hour after the Little Nugget Day Care explosion, ambulances still raced in. Fire. Burns. Like my brother. No,
please, I can't be part of this again.

She leaned against the cool corridor wall, her mouth dry and
thoughts stuttering. Being called to the ER was a mistake. Had
to be. The message to meet the director of nursing didn't make
sense. Claire hadn't done critical care nursing since Kevin's death.
Couldn't. She wiped a clammy palm on her freshly pressed lab coat
and stepped away from the wall to peer down the corridor into the
ER. Then jumped, heart pounding, at the thud of heavy footfalls
directly behind her.

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