2007-05-13: No Hantavirus?



Guest Starring: Mrs. Lipnicki. Toby, the Lab Technician, Lisa the Nurse, and a few others lingering around the halls of Mount Sinai.

Summary: The early morning hours find Elena keeping an elderly woman company in her recovery room, before being pulled away by the sounds of a crying child. These series of events lead her to overhearing some interesting news about the Hantavirus quarantine in the last couple of months.

Date It Happened: May 13, 2007

No Hantavirus?

Mount Sinai Hospital, New York City

"You don't have to do all the cards, Elena dear."

The speaker, Mrs. Lipnicki, was admitted to Mount Sinai around a week ago due to some heart problems. At least this is what Elena has managed to find out looking at her chart. Too much strain, it seems, from helping plan her granddaughter's wedding, which was due to be held sometime in August. She reminds her of Mrs. Claus in a way, with puffy, springy white hair cut short around her face, and ice blue eyes. Despite the obvious years, the old woman is vivacious in her own way, with a ready smile for the hospital staff.

The recovery room is roomy, though Mrs. Lipnicki shares this with another patient who is fast asleep on the other side of the room, the curtains drawn around to afford some privacy. On her bed are stacks and stacks of plain, white cards and envelopes. They were all blank. According to the older woman, she was writing personal notes to all the girls who attended the bride's shower around a week or so ago. Unfortunately, her athritis was acting up.

"I'll do what I can today at the very least," Elena responds, slipping another finished card into an envelope and setting it carefully in the box where all the finished notes rested. "Luckily the bride didn't have too many guests in the bridal shower, hm?"

"Which is surprising considering how popular Amelia is, really," Mrs. Lipnicki says with a sigh. "She should be doing this herself, in fact she rather insisted. But I was the one who arranged the event so I told her, 'Amelia dear, you have enough to worry about, let Granny do something for you for a change for this ol' shindig.' " She shakes her head. "Perhaps all the excitement just got the better of me."

"Weddings are happy occasions," Elena says with a laugh. "So who's next on the list?"

"A…" Mrs. Lipnicki squints at her list, adjusting her large, gold-rimmed glasses. "Ah! Theresa. Theresa Lapaz…"

A burst of sudden, loud crying suddenly shoots out from the hallway, both women looking up and rather startled. Mrs. Lipnicki tsks, her lips forming in a small frown. "Now who would be making some poor child cry so early in the morning?" she wonders rhetorically, and winces further when the screaming doesn't seem to be abating any time soon.

"I'll go see what's going on," Elena says, standing up from the bed and moving over to the doorway, one of the white cards still in hand. Taking a step out of the hallway, she looks around, and sees the child making a fuss. A tow-headed toddler with a chubby face and red-rimmed, green eyes, he had just delivered a defiant kick on his father's shin and proceeds to roll around the floor wailing. She also frowns, seeing the gash on the boy's forehead - the cause of the culprit's pain and misery for the time being.

"We might have to sedate him at this rate," the mother, a thirty-something brunette wearing a dumpy sweater, cries in a panicked voice to the nearby nurse, who was doing her best to placate both the child and the couple. "Do you have any Benadryl?" It must be their firstborn, this isn't the first time she has seen the look of panic she sees.

Focusing on the child, and resting her free hand lightly on the doorframe, Elena blocks out everything else. She feels the source of the pain, the child well within range of the room she is in, and proceeds to start removing it. Before long, the toddler calms down, and the attending nurse breathes a sigh of relief as she starts inspecting the child's forehead.

Hiding a smile, the young latina turns, and is about to go back inside to join the elderly patient when something else catches her eye. Stepping further out into the hallway, she peers at a group of nurses hanging by the water cooler, adjacent to the door, talking in hushed voices.

"Can you believe she's suddenly gone…?"
"Maybe it was the military…"
"Who else would be able to do -that-?"

Curiosity getting the better of her, Elena moves closer, trying her best to look casual. All she wants is a drink from the water cooler. Really! Picking up a cup, she toys with it for a moment, doing her best to look inconspicuous as she slips closer to the group to start filling the cup, very slowly, with water. Meanwhile, she'll keep her ears perked.

A woman in the powder blue scrubs was talking, raking her hand through her hair. "It was so weird," she tells her fellow nurses quietly. "The Hayes file was suddenly sealed off. -No one- has access. At least no one I know. It's crazy, this has never happened around here before. You'd think they'd keep it open in case someone else with the same virus thing would walk through the ER like that missing girl did."

"That is pretty weird, Lisa," another nurse muses, rubbing her chin in thought and shakes her head. "It's kind of like those movies you know? Maybe something got out of a secured government facility and infected the Hayes girl with…whatever the hell it was that she was carrying. You know our Government these days, military funding sucking up taxpayer's dollars…"

"You know what I think is weird?" a brunette, much younger than the two other nurses, pipes up. "I mean, everyone else is speculating about this weird-ass thing going on and no one seems to have the stones to ask someone who actually did the lab tests— " She cuts off, turning as she watches a tall, lanky fellow in a white coat and goggles on his head rush past. "Toby! Come 'ere a sec, we wanna ask you somethin'!"

"Toby" stops, his sneakers squealing into the linoleum and blinking at the group by the water cooler. "Hey, Jen," he says, striding over and tucking his clipboard under one hand. "What's up?"

"You were the tech who did the bloodwork on the Hayes woman, right?" Jen says in hushed tones.

"Yeah, what about it?"

"Don't you think it's odd that they're just….sealing the file and pulling it out?" she asks, clearly fishing.

"Well…yeah," Toby confirms with a shrug. "Sort of. I'm wondering about it too, since there was something really funky with her bloodwork."

Lisa quirks a brow. " 'Funky'?"

"Yeah." Toby looks left, and looks right, before stepping closer to the ladies….and coincidentally the young-looking volunteer who seems to be having some trouble with the water cooler. "Look, I know everyone's up an' crazy about this Hantavirus thing, but from what I remember looking at the swatches? There was no Hantavirus."



"So what the hell was it?" Jen says with a confused look on her face. "You mean there wasn't -anything- in the bloodwork at all?"

"I'm not saying that," Toby protests, lifting his hands at the curious glower from the other three nurses. "There -was- something there, something weird, but it wasn't a Hantavirus or whatever everyone else thinks it is. It's different….some….kind of pathogen. But I really can't remember what it was."

"So why would they say it was a Hantavirus then if it wasn't? Wouldn't that be on the file?"

"What do you MEAN you don't remember what it was?"

As the nurses press the poor, hapless Toby, who's stuttering about not knowing anything else, Elena takes a sip of her water and turns her back to the group, furrowing her brows a touch. Excellent questions, it was as if the nurses were reading her mind. If there was no Hantavirus, why would they say it was one? She had -been there- during the quarantine when they said it was a Hantavirus. In fact, Jack and his friend were there as well. Peter was also there, and a police officer, and….she couldn't remember who else.

She lingers in the hallway, slinking around the corner and heading into the staff room. Finding it empty, she closes it behind her, and pulls out her phone. She isn't supposed to have it on her, but there might be an emergency with either her father or Manny. Calling up her directory, she fires a text to Cass, letting her know she'll be stopping by her apartment later.

Her eyes fall on another name on the list in her cellphone, and she shakes her head, snapping it shut. No way. While Peter would've been one of the first she would talk to about this, the last seventy-two hours had rendered that impossible.

She turns around, resting her hand on the doorknob and she pauses. Whatever she felt, whatever she was feeling, it was starting to turn suspiciously like guilt. This could potentially be important, especially considering Peter told her he believed the quarantine had maybe something to do with another Mendez painting that he saw. Something about a vial breaking. And if he was right, it would be her fault if she didn't get the information to the right person. Some things were above petty differences, and personal issues, and homicidal girlfriends.

But if she called him now she knows she would have to answer several uncomfortable questions. Questions like "Why weren't you taking my calls?"

She groans at the thought, thumping her forehead over and over on the closed door. She COULD write a note, drop it on his mailbox and slip it through the door. But writing things down and just leaving it there could be….well. What if the wrong person saw it? What if the wrong person takes it? She turns around to lean her back against the door, tapping the spare, white card she still holds in her hand against her bottom lip.

She pauses. She pulls the card away from her face and stares at it, and flips it over, and flips it over again.

The gears in her brains start turning. She closes her fingers more securely over the card.

"Eureka," she murmurs.

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