Two Sides of the Same Medical Coin
Episode 5: Better Angels
Location: CMO's Office, Sickbay, Deck 7
Timeline: 2 Days Into Pursuit of Indomitable
Rostering had never been Jace's strong suit, but organising one for the staff of a ship's sickbay was certainly much simpler than, say, the roster for all doctors in a substantially-sized civilian emergency department. There weren't any major leave arrangements to contend to, no staff shortage, no accreditation rules to abide by.
Of course, he tried his best to be fair and to spread the workload with as much equity as possible, but there were a few who'd have to pull off a few more shifts than their colleagues.
He'd been so focused on his work that he'd lost track of time, not realising it was time for his appointment with the ship's counsellor. A quick meet to get to know the medical department's 'other' chief, a position that he knew some other CMOs might place secondary importance to. But to Jace, crew morale was vital to the proper functioning of a vessel like theirs. Perhaps it came from having much of his medical training and career in the civilian world, but the evidence was clear - a burnt-out and the psychologically exhausted team would never function at its peak.
He heard the soft chime of the doorbell and looked up to look past the framed glass panel to spot the tall lady waiting to enter. In a quick motion, he twirled his hand over his desk, authorising for it to slide the door open.
Arcadia had operated somewhat differently from standard ship-side medical practice. Due to the size of the advanced station, the mental and physical health departments experienced a larger separation than was normal. So much so, that this would be the first time Niamh had met with a CMO directly above her since leaving the Wellington.
She wasn't worried though, she knew this was a meeting of colleagues as opposed to an interview and presumed she'd be spending most of her time bringing her fellow newcomer up to speed with the day's events.
She entered Dr Eldridge's office confidently, smiling warmly at the man behind the desk, "Dr Eldridge, I had hoped to meet with you sooner than this, but I've been preoccupied trying to make sure the crew are coping with their current circumstance," the counsellor explained as she cleared the distance between the door and the desk.
"Lieutenant Niamh O'Donoghue, Chief Counsellor, It's a pleasure to meet you," the female blue shirt introduced.
Jace stood up quickly. "Likewise," he said, before gesturing over to the chair in front of his desk. "Please, have a seat. Thanks for dropping by."
"Thank you," Niamh said as she took a seat. "The medical department has seen a sharp rise in senior staff over the last couple of days, I hear a head nurse transferred with you from the Giffords too," she said conversationally, a little bit of chit chat to ease them into their briefings.
Jace could recall having briefly met their new head nurse on the transfer vessel. "Yes, that's right. Mr Roseland, if I recall correctly. I believe he's also our new Chief of the Boat." He sat down in his own chair.
"I've never experienced a situation like this, my transfer was accepted whilst we were in transit, now it seems the entire medical department's had an overhaul in terms of leadership," Niamh said. "I imagine we have a lot of work ahead of us once we catch the Indomitable"
Jace nodded in agreement. "Yes, an overhaul... I'm not too aware of all the details surrounding the departure of the previous administration. But that's the past, and right now we need to prepare ourselves for our upcoming confrontation with that ship. There undoubtedly will be casualties. We'll just have to hope it won't be at a catastrophic scale."
He then said, "Have you had a chance to identify any particularly vulnerable crew? I'm aware that some of them have gone through quite a bit back at Arcadia."
"There are one or two I'm keeping a close eye on, but nobody is dealing with the current situation appropriately," Niamh explained. "I've been doing the rounds since being formally added to the roster, focussing almost primarily on the junior rates. Several officers have reached out for advice, but again nothing of concern. I can get their files to you once we're finished here." she promised.
Part of Jace's job was to keep the crew in tip-top shape, both physically and mentally. He was only marginally trained to perform the latter, and thus much of it would be dependent on the ship's new counsellor. "Thanks," he nodded appreciatively. "And how about yourself? Settling in okay?"
"I am. The Defiant's crew have been nothing if not welcoming. Is definitely nothing compared to Arcadia in terms of comfort, but I think it's an acceptable compromise," the Irish woman explained. "How about you? Hopefully our experiences have been similar".
"It's been fine," Jace said. "Took me a while to get used to being on a ship for a prolonged period of time. I've never really left Earth before. I mean... I've been on shuttles and orbital stations and all that - but nothing like 'living' in space. It's a new experience. So is managing this ship's medical department. Very similar yet very different from being in charge of a hospital emergency department, which is what I've done pretty much my entire career so far."
"You'll adjust in no time, doctor," Niamh promised. "Other than the fact we're in space, ship life becomes relatively homely after the crew connects. I compare it to being a part of a really efficient village," she shared, trying to remember the last time she'd shared planet-side since the start of her career. "You will fit in perfectly, I have no doubt you'll be meeting a great many of the crew in the next few days," she said, her tone solemn.
"Hopefully not as patients," he suggested, although he had a bad feeling that it may very well turn out that way. After a very brief pause, he added, "Well, then. If you have any new concerns about any of the crew, just let me know and we can go over it together. But let's hope everyone's mentally prepared for what we'll soon be up against."
"I'll ensure that they are doctor," Niamh promised as she rose from her seat. "It's been a pleasure meeting you, I'm looking forward to starting our work together," she said genuinely.
"Likewise," the CMO stood as well, and the pair shared a departing handshake. "I'll catch you around," he farewelled casually, before she turned to leave the office.
Dr Jace Eldridge
Chief Medical Officer
Dr Niamh O'Donoghue