A 10-Minute Play
CAST OF CHARACTERS
Deela: A nurse somewhere in her 30’s-50’s. She is very
stern. May dress in street clothes or scrubs.
Sarah: A nurse in her 20’s-30’s. Dressed similarly.
Billy: A male nurse (could be female). Dressed similarly.
Age is unimportant.
Simpson: A corrections officer. Wears a uniform of some
sort that would be appropriate to the job. Male or female.
Balfour: An inmate. Wears prison dungarees or an orange
jumpsuit. Should probably be middle-aged to old.
Dr. Ianescu: The prison infirmary’s physician. He may be
of any age (30’s-80’s). Dresses in street clothes with a
lab coat over all. Should speak with a Romanian accent.
Day-evening shift change. About 3-4 p.m.
A prison infirmary’s nurse’s station and the hallway
directly outside (downstage).
AT RISE: A small conference table sits at center of the
The door to the nurses’ station should be
downstage left. There is a half-wall dividing
the “hallway” (the front apron area of the stage)
from the nurses’ station. A large canister of
oxygen with a breathing apparatus setup is
downstage and to the left of the nurses’ station
doorway. There is a folding chair next to it.
DEELA enters with a thick medication notebook.
She places it on the tabletop. BILLY and SARAH
enter from various sides. They all take seats.
Today’s been a bad day. I ain’t had time to do nothin’.
Mainly because of some problems we’ve had with the
pharmacy. Also because of some problems with ya’ll.
(BILLY and SARAH look at one
another, rolling their eyes.)
Here’s the thing …
(raising her voice)
… In the pharmacy, there’s NO ROOM for mistakes. And this
pharmacy we got has been makin’ too many mistakes. Also,
ya’ll have been makin’ too many mistakes. Far as I’m
concerned, there’s NO ROOM for mistakes in what we do,
Just get to the point, Deela. Just give us report and go
Sarah, you need to calm down. I don’t want to have to call
you out on any of your mistakes right now. Besides… I
ain’t goin’ home. I’m stayin’ for a while just to make
sure ya’ll are doin’ your jobs.
You know, Deela, you’re not the boss. You’re not in
I’m the day shift supervisor.
There’s no day shift supervisor. There are three nurses on
day shift. Two nurses on evening shift. One nurses on
night shift. We all work together. We’re all peers.
I’m the most senior person in this infirmary! That makes
me the supervisor. Besides that, I’m the only one on this
staff who ain’t got my head up my ass!
Just tell us what’s going on.
This pharmacy’s getting’ out of hand. Like I said, there
ain’t NO ROOM for mistakes in that field. And that’s all
we get from our pharmacy…mistakes, mistakes, mistakes.
(Going over to the
countertop, she picks up a
small, empty vial of
Sarah, do you know what this is?
It’s a vial. An empty one.
Yesterday, we got an inmate in from Garfield County. He
was supposed to get a monthly IM shot of testosterone. He
gets the shot monthly. His last shot was in October. This
is November. It shoulda been done. You didn’t give it.
There ain’t NO ROOM for people who can’t do their job in
this field. We’re talkin’ about people’s life here!
I processed that guy in. He just had his shot ten days
ago, Deela. We ordered the medication.
I didn’t find nothin’ that said they’d given him that shot
at Garfield County. If it ain’t charted, it ain’t done!
You shoulda seen to this, Sarah. You did the meds
I ordered the medication. I faxed the order in to the
pharmacy at 6 pm.
You should have ordered it stat.
It wasn’t an emergency. He didn’t get here until 4:30.
How do you know what’s an emergency? How long have you
been a nurse?
When the medication got here this morning at 11, I opened
it up and I seen that it was the wrong dose. Sarah, I
looked at the order you faxed …
(reaching inside the
medication notebook, pulling
out a sheet of paper)
…and I think it was because of your shitty handwriting that
it got screwed up. Still. There ain’t NO ROOM for error
in the pharmacy. I wrote ‘em up. I’m thinking’ about
writing you up!
Go ahead and write me up. I couldn’t care less.
That’s the problem with you, Sarah. You don’t care.
That’s why you make so many durn mistakes. There’s NO ROOM
for people like you here.
I had to spend so much time doin’ your work that I couldn’t
get my own done. It took me two hours to get the right
medication in and write the pharmacy up and get everything
squared away. I ended up not getting Jimmy Nelson’s
dressing change done. It gets done on day shift and night
shift. You’re gonna have to do it tonight, Sarah, since
it’s your fault that I didn’t get it done.
I’m going out to talk to Dr. Ianescu about all ya’ll’s
attitudes. Like that Romanian sumbich is gonna do anything
about it. He barely speaks English. Anyhow, ya’ll need to
get to work.
(DEELA leaves the nursing
station, exiting through the
door that is downstage and
turning to the right.)
(Getting up to go to the counter, where there is a
treatment book she begins thumbing through.)
She’s such a hag.
Power hungry, too.
She’s going down to Dr. Ianescu’s office to bitch, of
course. Nobody can stand her. Especially the doc.
Inmates and guards hate her too.
(Looking in an overhead cupboard.)
Say, is Nelson’s acetic acid here?
Oh, it’s up there in the upper cabinet. We just got a
whole bunch of it. Deela put it up by the saline solution.
Oh, found it.
(She brings down the liter bottle of clear solution, opens
it, pours some out in a plastic cup and then replaces it.)
Last week I had to change his dressing on evening shift,
too…Deela didn’t have time then, either… and we were out.
I just used saline solution.
I remember that. Deela hit the ceiling and complained to
Ianescu when she found out.
He doesn’t care. He wanted to order a collagen gel to
treat for that skin ulcer, but it’s not on the pharmacy
formulary. The acetic acid doesn’t help all that much,
really. He only ordered it because it’s all they’ll let
(Finding the bottle.)
Here it is. It was right next to the saline. God, I hate
the way this stuff smells. Pharmaceutical grade vinegar.
It reminds me of this nasty sauerkraut my grandma used to
Yeah, I hate that smell, too.
(Gathering up bandages, tape, rubber gloves and the like.)
I’m going to go and do Nelson’s treatment.
(SARAH exits out the nurses’ station door and goes to the
(SIMPSON enters with BALFOUR.
BALFOUR is wheezing and having a
difficult time breathing. BILLY
steps out in the hallway to meet
I got an inmate here with an asthma attack.
Yeah, seems to be having trouble. What’s your name?
Maurice…Balfour. I’ve had asthma since I was a kid…they
had us painting today…I guess the fumes got to me.
(Placing a pulse oximeter on the end of BALFOUR’s finger as
he has the inmate sit in the folding chair next to the
(BILLY reads the pulse ox )
…02 sat is 72…that’s bad…let’s get you a breathing
treatment set up.
(BILLY puts the breathing
apparatus on BALFOUR and turns to
go into the nurses’ station, as
DEELA arrives from stage right.)
What’n the hell do you think you’re doin’, Billy?
Got an inmate having an asthma attack…
You got his chart?
No, I’m gonna get it in a minute. I just want to get him
set up with an emergency albuterol treatment.
You go pull his chart first. You don’t even know if he’s
got an order to get treatments.
His 02 sat’s…
You ain’t no doctor! We ain’t got NO ROOM around here for
nurses who think they can be treatin’ people without an
order. Go get the chart!
(BILLY leaves, running to the
right, down the hallway.)
What’s the matter with you?
(DEELA goes into the nurse’s
station, mixes together a small
solution of medication, and then
comes back out. She sets up the
respiratory treatment, giving the
nebulizer to BALFOUR and turning
on the oxygen.)
Just doin’ my job.
Hey, this seems like it’s burning in my chest a little.
That’s just the medicine doin’ its job. It’ll take a
little bit before you start feeling better. Just keep
suckin’ on it.
(BILLY returns with the chart.)
What’s going on? I thought you needed his chart.
No, you needed his chart. This just takes common sense…
(pointing to BALFOUR)
… I handled it. You get an order for this if we need it.
0.083% nebulizer solution. I mixed it with saline. Chart
(DEELA walks away, stage left as
BILLY enters the nurses’ station
and SARAH enters the nurses’
station from stage right.)
Did you get that dressing change done, Sarah?
Yeah, it’s done.
I thought so…you must have used a lot of that acetic acid,
because I can smell it.
Yeah, big time. Man, I hate that smell.
(At this point, BALFOUR is outside
in the folding chair. He appears
to be having more trouble
Not as much as I do.
Hey, Billy, what’s with the inmate out there? He’s not
looking too good.
(Coming outside into the hallway with the pulse oximeter.)
02 sat’s dropped down to 58%. Not good at all.
What’re you doin’?
His 02 sats…
He’s fine. That albuterol’ll kick in in a little bit.
Quite tryin’ to second guess me, Billy!
I’ve got to go get some of ya’ll’s charts to see what kind
of errors you’ve been makin’ this week. I’ll be back to
check on him.
(BILLY goes back in the nurses’
station, sits down and begins
writing in BALFOUR’s chart.)
I’m gonna run down and see if Dr. Ianescu is busy. I want
him to look at that inmate. He’s not doing too good with
that albuterol. I want to write some stuff down in his
chart and see what his history is.
(going out into the hallway.)
God, it stinks out here.
(Approaching the hallway also.)
I know, I smell that vinegar smell. It’s stronger out
here… than… shit… I know I didn’t use that much of it.
(She stops in the doorway between
the nurses’ station and the
hallway. She looks at BALFOUR,
then looks up at SIMPSON. She
takes the nebulizer from BALFOUR
and holds it up to her nose,
…Oh, my God. Acetic acid.
Don’t breath anymore of this …
(Turns off the oxygen and takes
the nebulizer apparatus from the
tube, then goes into the nurses’
…You know what, Billy, Deela set this respiratory treatment
up wrong. She mixed the albuterol with acetic acid instead
(SARAH fingers and scrutinizes the
bottles in the cabinet, which are
similar, yet one has an orange cap, the
other a blue one.)
So, that’s where that smell was coming from…
(BALFOUR collapses, falling out of the
…God damn! Looks like he’s gonna need something more than a
(BILLY and SARAH rush outside to
BALFOUR’s side as HELEN returns with
DR. IANESCU. DR. IANESCU goes to
BALFOUR, checks his pulse, puts his
stethoscope to the inmate’s chest, then
begins directing the other staff
This man’s heart has stopped. He’s gone into cardiac
arrest. Billy, get the crash cart; Sarah, start chest
(The nurses all go into action. SARAH
is Pushing on BALFOUR’S chest, BILLY is
pulling the crash cart up to the edge
of the nurses’ station, near the
(Handing DR. IANESCU BALFOUR’s chart, and also passing the
ambu bag to SARAH.)
Here’s his chart, Doc.
Thanks, Billy… keep bagging him… No, Officer Simpson, you
bag him…. You know how to do this?
(Begins applying the mask and squeezing the bulb.)
Sarah, I need you to start an IV. Billy…
I’m already on it…
(handing HELEN an IV start kit, then getting an IV pole and
bag set up.)
Yes. Lactated ringers. Open it up.
DEELA enters the crowed scene.
What’s a-goin’ on here? What the hell are ya’ll doin’?
Fixing your mistake, Deela.
Why, you snotty little bitch…
Billy, I’m going to want to give epinephrine…like 1:1,000,
0.5 mills… do you have IV access yet?
(Trying to crowd into the situation.)
Billy, get the hell out of the way…I’ll start the IV.
(Losing his temper.)
Deela! It’s too crowded here… There’s NO ROOM for you in
(The action stops momentarily
here. They all—except BALFOUR—
look at DEELA ,freeze. BLACKOUT.)