KINDNESS MATTERS

(November 27, 2022) America’s Mercy Health releases good info monthly as part of their concern for everyone in showing the compassion of Jesus, such as these (excerpted) thankful stories featuring team members, patients and the wonderful communities they feel blessed to serve…

1). Teamwork saves mushroom poisoning patient’s life
A family group came to Mercy Health – West Hospital, sick from eating wild mushrooms foraged in nearby woods. While most were able to recover with minimal treatment and return home, one remained extremely ill.

‘The patient was admitted and liver tests kept getting worse,’ shares Dr Kevin Cronley, one of our gastroenterologists, and director of endoscopy.

There were no other health issues that could explain the worsening numbers. The relatively young patient’s health got so bad that Dr Cronley was exploring placement on the liver transplant list.

Dangerous mushrooms
From what the patient said, Dr Cronley knew what the family had foraged was the likely cause of the illness. About the same time the family came to the hospital, local media started reporting cases of people sick from eating highly toxic wild mushrooms.

‘I did some research and called poison control, before starting the patient on N-acetyl cysteine (NAC),’ Dr Cronley says. (Doctors use NAC to treat acetaminophen overdose but there is some evidence it can help protect the liver in cases of acute liver failure).

‘We found information on an experimental treatment called Silibin, an extract from milk thistle that helps block the toxicity of mushrooms on the liver’ he adds. 

Gastrointestinal consult team, hospitalist Mary Harpen, MD, and pharmacist Stephanie Schmutte (right) from the inpatient pharmacy at West Hospital worked together to make phone calls and complete the necessary paperwork to expedite securing FDA approval for the potentially life-saving experimental treatment.

Happy outcome
‘The patient’s liver test was worse that next morning, so we administered it,’ Dr Cronley recalls. ‘By the next day, the  liver test was better, and discharge was arranged three days later. The patient was in the hospital for six days and was likely progressing to liver failure if we hadn’t used this treatment.’ He warns those who might be tempted to eat a wild mushroom: ‘Unless you are very familiar with the local fungi or are a mushroom expert, you need to be very cautious eating wild mushrooms. I’ve seen first-hand how dangerous they can be!’

He adds, ‘It’s been a rough three years in health care! I felt proud that so many people, despite all we’ve been through, care and go above and beyond to get patients what they need. In this case, the hospitalist team, inpatient pharmacy and others collaborated to save a life.’

2. Matt beats covid-19 with care team help
Matt went to the emergency room at Mercy Health – St. Rita’s Medical Center because of trouble breathing and shortness of breath.

Scared
‘I already had COVID-19, and they discovered that I also had pneumonia,’ he shares. His mother recalls that she could tell Matt was really scared.

‘I was immediately put on oxygen,’ Matt says. ‘Then high flow oxygen the next day. I got even worse and had chest tubes and a vent. I was also placed on ECMO for nine days. On day 15, I got a tracheostomy.’

He continues, ‘The next day, I finally woke up. On day 20, I came off the vent. After three days, chest tubes were reviewed and I was moved to rehab for two weeks. I got my trach out and was finally discharged.’  

Forever grateful
Matt shares that his team (right) made both he and his family feel loved and cared for. ‘We absolutely adore my whole care team!’ he states. ‘I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for my amazing  team. They always pushed me to do my best, and I will forever be grateful for all they’ve done for me, and my family.’

Matt’s care team’s Amanda Laird shares, ‘Being able to provide care for a young person in our community helped me restore my commitment and focus during the pandemic. Matt’s case hit home as he is the same age as my sons, and I will never forget the day we placed him on ECMO and the fear I could see in his mom’s face. Now, when I pass them when he comes for check-ups, I love seeing the pure joy in her face that she has her son back.’

Jeanne Hummer, Matt’s nurse when he was in the intensive care unit adds, ‘To be part of this team in helping deliver ECMO care to patients like Matt is an awesome, rewarding, yet sometimes heart-wrenching feeling. I remember Dr Cole discussing the option of ECMO with Matt and his parents and saying that he would do all he could, that he would fight for Matt.’

Matt also adds, ‘My doctors – Dr Sandeep Patel and Dr Paul Castellanos – that I had check-ups with after my experience at the ER have been amazing! They are taking great care of me still.’

3. Breakthrough breast cancer procedure
When Bobbie Edds (left with cat, KeepHer) of Paducah, Ky found out she had breast cancer, her first thought was not about herself but her husband. ‘I was numb. He has Alzheimer’s and I’m his only caregiver,’ she shares.

Concerns
Previous surgeries had left Bobbie in pain, feeling sick from medication. It would take weeks to feel normal again. She knew she had to have surgery but, as her husband’s caregiver, couldn’t risk the side effects.

Fortunately, Daniel Howard, MD, one of our breast surgeons, performs a specific breakthrough procedure for that had Bobbie back home the same day. By using ultrasound guidance along with a local nerve block, he was able to perform a mastectomy and axillary node removal while she was still awake.

Not all patients are candidates for this because they need to lie very still and breathe normally. It was Bobbie’s years as a nurse at Mercy Health – Lourdes Hospital that prepared her for the sights and sounds of an operating room.

After surgery, Bobbie was discharged and immediately went to see her husband. ‘I didn’t get sick, didn’t have any drug hangover feelings. I had energy, coming home.’

Godsend
This was exactly what she was looking for. As her husband’s sole caregiver, this alternative to traditional surgery was a godsend. Dr Howard is the only breast surgeon in western Kentucky performing this type of procedure. Typically, the nerve block lasts for three days and allows the patient to return to normal life much faster than other procedures.

‘Dr Howard is a wonderful person with great bedside manner,’ Bobbie shares. ‘I’m well and have healed from the surgery. I’m even back at gym lifting weights and my muscle strength is back to where it was before!’

Bobbie credits her successful recovery to the wonderful care she received from our team members. ‘I am especially pleased with Dr Howard and his staff with my post-operative care. I had an uneventful recovery. I also have an exceptional oncologist, Dr Claudino, who helped me get where I am today. Without his love and compassionate support, I would not be able to champion on and work hard to be as strong as I am today. I give him credit for my physical well-being and delighting in my remission of cancer.’

Sadly, Bobbie’s husband passed away. However, she shares how grateful she was able to continue to care for him and be by his side after her surgery. These days she spends time gardening, enjoying her flowers, going to church and spending time with KeepHer.

4. Sarah shares appreciation for her team
Sarah Marsh
(right) has always been proud to work at our ministry. Recently she transferred to executive services after previously spending her days assisting fellow team members who called the associate services centre looking for everything from benefits information to scheduling a flu shot.

Helping others is what Sarah does, but it’s when her family needed help that Sarah experienced even greater appreciation for her work family. Very close with her mother, Connie, when Sarah became engaged and moved to Cincinnati, it was only natural that Connie made the move too.

Sarah’s fiancé, now husband, bought Connie a home only seconds away, calling the living arrangement a ‘true blessing.’ When it came to locating care near their new homes, they chose The Jewish Hospital – Mercy Health.

Health blessings
Health is also a blessing and Connie had been fortunate in that regard. She only ever had three occasions requiring a night in the hospital… her children’s births. Unfortunately, illness, as it can, changed things for her.

Sarah describes her mother as ‘very shy and private,’ so family prefers not to discuss publicly details of the battle being fought. However, it’s Sarah’s Mercy Health team members fighting alongside them that the family cannot say enough about.

Sarah’s familiarity and admiration for our ministry began with encountering for the first time numerous health care professionals who are co-workers. Each physician, nurses and other team member left a positive impression, so strong that she was compelled to write to our ministry’s CEO, John Starcher.

Going above and beyond
Her letter highlighted individuals who had gone above and beyond, starting, literally, at the front door with the valet team. Health care can be a tough job, and Sarah knew those taking care of her and her mother were different in all the most wonderful of ways.

She recalled a rare moment at The Jewish Hospital when she was unable to fight back a breakdown. It was then that a team member took time to comfort her, letting her know that ‘we love you guys, especially your mom.’ Sarah informed John of not only the compassion demonstrated, but of the pride she felt as an employee.

Sarah says. ‘You don’t get that feeling just anywhere. The ministry is special, very special in that regard.’ She also expressed appreciation for those at the associate services centre, writing that ‘my manager, Laura Smith, and my team have been so supportive and understanding and I could have done none of this without them.’

Immeasurable blessing
Closed her letter Sarah stated, ‘I’m blessed beyond measure to be an employee of Mercy Health. Looking at things from a caregiver’s perspective certainly sheds a different light on things, so I wanted you to know that all is well at The Jewish Hospital. The facility and all the team members who make the dream work there are a true blessing to the ministry.’

The note made an immediate impression on John, who assured her he would make sure all those mentioned would receive word of their positive impacts. The family’s appreciation was shared with Michael Kramer, president of The Jewish Hospital. In turn he shared Sarah’s message with his teams.

Connie is maintaining her sense of humour and benefiting still from the care of the team at The Jewish Hospital. As for Sarah herself, the whole experience has given her added insight into her own work.

‘I have always wanted to do my best for our employees, but this has opened my eyes even further,’ she says. ‘Kindness matters, as cliché as it sounds; you really never know what someone is dealing with in the background. This experience has retrained my brain. I want to treat each employee as if they are the only ones that matter, even if it is a benefit issue that I have solved hundreds of times.’ 

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… an extensive caring American organisation that states ‘Our Mission drives us to provide the highest quality health care possible to our patients and communities. Our exceptional team of doctors, nurses and caregivers whose expertise and talent help make a difference in our patients’ lives every day. We extend the compassionate ministry of Jesus by improving the health and well-being of our communities and brings good help to those in need, especially people who are poor, dying and underserved.’ Link: https://www.mercy.com/ 
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