Oct. 11th: 0100 hours
"Doctor Pierce, are you ready for me to...WHOA!" Lieutenant MacAllister had walked over to the surgeon's changing room. She retreated quickly as she realized that the curtains were open and the men were in various stages of undress. Red faced, Sarabeth studied the patterns in the ceiling.
"Excuse me! It's SOP at my hospitals for the attending nurse to help remove gowns and top scrubs. Obviously, y'all can handle that yourselves. I apologize, gentlemen."
"Why don't you come over to the Swamp in a few minutes?" Hawkeye asked.
Still staring at the ceiling, Sarabeth shook her head. "You never give up, do you, sir?"
"Actually, this is a legitimate request." He persisted. "Why don't you and Colonel Potter join us for a drink? We're ready to uncork a new batch from the still."
"Some other time." Potter commented. "Right now, I have an appointment with my pillow."
"MacAllister," Major Houlihan walked towards the nurse's changing room. She called over her shoulder, "I want to talk to you."
"Coming, Major. Captain, I would love a drink. I'll be over later." The lieutenant glanced at the head nurse and exhaled slowly. "Now, if y'all will excuse me. I have my own appointment to keep."
The Chief Surgeon turned to his commanding officer. "So she asked a question and expected new gloves. She's an excellent nurse! The finest kind! Margaret was on her back the entire time. She didn't deserve that then and she doesn't deserve it now."
"Simmer down, Pierce. I agree with you." Potter informed him. "But they have to work this out themselves. They're both used to being in charge. And they're both head-strong. We just have to leave them alone. And hope that they can settle this quickly."
"...And, then, you gave permission for Campbell to be away from her station!" The major was going down her list of mistakes that she felt MacAllister had made.
The surgeons, still in their changing room, were listening to this tirade with interest. Other OR personnel were eavesdropping, as well.
The lieutenant answered her accusations calmly. "Major, what harm is there in letting her stretch her legs for few minutes? Doctor Pierce and I were assisting Doctor Hunnicutt. She didn't have a patient on the table. And she needed a break. The surgeons aren't the only ones who get tired, you know."
"That is not part of your job."
"It is a part of my job! As surgical nurse, it is my responsibility to keep every thing moving smoothly---including personnel. I take care of my patient first, my doctor second, the rest of my team third and myself last. If I see that one member of my team needs to rest, and, if I can spare him---or her, I will do so!"
MacAllister's drawl was becoming more pronounced. "I have found that the longer you run a team without a break, the more mistakes that can occur. Even a minute or two of rest can make a difference."
"Let me remind you, Lieutenant, that you are no longer running your surgical teams. You are under my command, now! And you will follow my directives!" Houlihan informed her with considerable heat in her words.
"If I am listed as a surgical nurse on the surgery schedule, I will do a surgical nurse's job." MacAllister replied evenly.
"The only reason you were assigned surgical nurse status was because the Chief Surgeon insisted on it! But don't expect your friendships with any of the doctors to help you!"
Until this point, the lieutenant had remained calm and courteous. She was angry now, however. "Major," she stated, incensed, "I have never asked any doctor for any special considerations! I am good...I am damn good...at what I do! And that is why I'm assigned as the surgical nurse on a team!! Not because I've asked some surgeon for a favor."
"You are just a trouble maker."
"And you, ma'am, are a...."
"Here it comes." Potter spoke to the men with regret.
The doctors couldn't see Lieutenant MacAllister regain control of her temper, swallow her comment, force a smile on her face and relax her stance. But they could hear the return of quiet, formal civility to her soft-spoken words.
"You are a shining example to us all. And, if you will excuse me, Major. I'm scheduled for OR clean up." MacAllister limped away.
"I'd say Sarabeth was the winner of that one." Hawkeye commented as the surgeons left the area.
"Perhaps. But I don't think we've seen the end of that conflict." Colonel Potter observed. "When you have high-spirited fillies like those two in the same pasture, you are going to have problems."