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LL’s forthcoming column this week in on George Chopivsky’s efforts to buy the long-troubled United Medical Center in Ward 8.

As part of the research for the piece, LL came across this old City Paper item from 1999 about the nurses who worked at the hospital back when it was called the Greater Southeast Community Hospital. It was not a pretty picture:

But it is when they talk about the workplace that Greater Southeast’s nurse stories turn from your average office gripes to something more dramatic. Nurses work double shifts, sometimes sleeping over in emergencies. Some get left to cover whole wards alone. Nina Zupancic remembers being left at the mercy of one crazed patient on her psychology ward. Marge Meskunas often works the pediatrics night shift alone. Although the ward has lost four nurses and a part-time secretary, she still cares for as many as 14 patients.

Meskunas says other nurses try to fill in. If they can’t, she’s out of luck—and takes her bathroom breaks in public, since she can’t be out of her patients’ earshot. “I pee with the door open, like when my own kids were little,” Meskunas, 59, says. “You want to keep an eye and ear out for when someone comes on the floor. Someone can take a child. A lot of weird things can go on. I don’t feel safe to close the door.”

The story was written by Jason Cherkis. Wonder what happened to that guy.