Western Maine Medical Center in Saunders Landing isn’t one of Maine’s larger hospitals, and Stephen King has never set one of his novels in a fictional version of it, so it isn’t very well known outside of the community it serves.
The hospital, located very close to Maine’s infamous Western Woods, gets a high percentage of its Emergency Room traffic from hunters who run into some sort of trouble while out in the aforementioned forest.
Often times, the patients rushed into the ER with hunting wounds are from away and don’t have any ID readily available. Rather than wasting time trying to figure out the name of the person who needs emergency medical attention, the hospital staff simply lists them as John or Jane Doe.
Except at WMMC, they spell the last name “D’Oh” in honor of Homer Simpson. This Modern Philosopher talked to Maureen Travers, the hospital’s CEO, to ask her about the quirky nod to The Simpsons.
“Everyone on staff is a huge fan of the show,” Travers explained. “It’s almost always on in the break room, and there’s something about the program that helps us all, from the top doctors down to the janitors, just unwind and relax even on the most stressful days.”
According to Miss Travers, once she realized how much everyone enjoyed the Fox cartoon, she went out and bought all the seasons on DVD, so there’s always an episode of The Simpsons playing on the TV in the break room. Staff will even lend DVDs to patients to watch in their rooms as part of the recovery process.
“That show is like magic around here,” she told me with a smile. “One day, a nurse wrote Jane D’Oh up on the board as a joke. Everyone, including the patient loved it, so it just stuck. Hospital regulars will pretend to forget their identification just so they can be listed as a D’Oh for their stay. It’s all in great fun.”
And the fun just got better. A recent John D’Oh at WMMC happened to be a friend of one of the program’s producers. After the hospital’s ER doctors saved his life, he promised them he would show his thanks in a unique way.
Shortly thereafter, sets of Simpsons scrubs arrived for the entire staff. Now, when anyone calls WMMC, they are greeted by the voice of a Simpsons character on the hospital’s automated phone system.
“We were very excited when the actors who do the characters’ voices called and said they wanted to record the messages for our phone system,” Travers tells me excitedly and then has me use the phone in her office to call the hospital’s main line.
I am greeted by Apu, who tells me to press one for inpatient information, to press two for outpatient information, and to press zero to be transferred to a non-animated being who may or may not be able to help me.
What a hoot! “The producers have promised to send Homer on a hunting trip to Maine next season and have him end up in our ER,” she announced in a whisper as if she were slipping me a state secret. “How cool is that going to be?”
It sounds to me like Western Maine Medical Center isn’t going to be unknown for much longer. It might even end up telling Maine’s more well-known hospitals to eat its shorts!