Friday, September 17, 2021

Back to Life

On Tuesday afternoon, I had the privilege of being part of a special event with a grateful family whoselife-altering experiences played out right here at GBMC.   

Back in early July, Kathy Patten was slated to play golf with family and friends when she got the call that her daughter, Stacey Fifer, was going into labor at our hospital. Due to the easing of COVID regulations for a patient’s family and friends at that time, Kathy decided to join Stacey and her son-in-law, Richard Fifer, in our pre-birthing room.

After arriving to attend the birth of her grandchild at GBMC, Kathy started to not feel well. Stacey became worried about her mother, and she called her nurse Kiana Dowdy, RN, to have her mom checked out. Kiana evaluated Kathy, put her on a cardiac monitor, and called for the Rapid Response Team. The team decided to take Kathy to the Emergency Department for further evaluation.  As they were leaving Labor and Delivery, Kathy went into cardiac arrest. They began CPR and called for the Code Team.  Drs. David Vitberg and Ari Zaiman ran to Labor and Delivery with the rest of the Code Team. They were joined by Dr. Dov Frankel from the Emergency Department and they managed the Code. The Labor and Delivery charge nurse Michelle Lukehart, RN, along with Rebecca Rubin, NP, took on critical roles during the code and also in assuring that all of the patients in the Unit got excellent care. Melanie Dowell, the Parent Education and Doula Program Manager, stayed with Stacey to assure that she was OK. Meghan Shackelford, NP, the Director of Advanced Practitioners, assisted the code team in L&D and also followed the team to assist in ongoing stabilization in the ED. After 48 minutes of cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), and just before the Team was going to end the Code, Kathy’s heart began to beat again, and she awoke. After further outstanding stabilization, by Dr Frankel and our ED team, Kathy was then transferred to the University of Maryland St Joseph Medical Center and there she received wonderful cardiac interventional care and was set on a pathway for cardiac rehabilitation. 

Despite her intense worry about her mother’s condition, Stacey’s baby was on its way into the world, and she continued with the delivery. Hoping to have a natural childbirth, the baby became stuck in the birth canal requiring an unexpected caesarian delivery and a neonatal resuscitation. After a relatively brief stay in GBMC’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), Alora is a happy, healthy baby girl. 

Kathy, who essentially came back to life following this astounding near-death experience, is now fully functioning and enjoying her life as a mom, grandmother and grateful former GBMC patient.  

At this week’s event, Kathy, Stacey, and other Patten and Fifer family members expressed their gratitude to the GBMC team that brought Kathy back to life and who served Stacey and Alora so well. Drs. Vitberg and Frankel reflected on the outstanding work of all involved, starting with our Labor and Delivery staff and including all those who assisted. Dr. Vitberg commented that our staff has been under so much stress since the beginning of the pandemic and following the cyber-attack and that this life-saving event was so helpful to replenish the energy and spirit of all the GBMC staff involved. 

This story further highlighted to me that the hard work of clinicians who care and are experts in their field is necessary for outstanding performance. Well-designed systems are also necessary, as is training as a team for infrequent and life-threatening situations like the one the team encountered with Kathy that day in July in Labor and Delivery. Dr. Vitberg and his team train regularly in our simulation center and GBMC recently earned the official designation as a Resuscitation Quality Improvement (RQI) Lighthouse Organization for our adoption and consistent use of an innovative CPR training program. GBMC is the first hospital in Maryland to receive this designation and to use the RQI system to train nurses and other clinical providers in CPR. This recurrent training and testing of CPR competency played a role in keeping Kathy’s brain oxygenated when her heart was not pumping for 48 minutes!

I am in awe of the entire team that was involved in saving Kathy and in serving Stacey and Alora as well. Great work and Thank You!

Thank-You EVS Team
This week, we are celebrating Environmental Services (EVS) and Housekeeping Week. After more than a year on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic, EVS and housekeeping professionals have served as a source of reassurance for patients unable to see loved ones, while maintaining rooms to the highest standards of cleanliness.  Our dedicated EVS and Housekeeping staff work day and night to keep our facilities clean and to prevent infections. They replace linens, remove regular and medical waste, and take care of unscheduled or emergency housekeeping services such as spills or event set-up. Please join me in thanking all our colleagues in EVS for their great work especially during these challenging times!

Neonatal Nurses Day
Last Wednesday (9/15) was Neonatal Nurses Day. We are very fortunate to have such a high-level NICU to care for those babies who are born too small, too sick or too soon. Please join me in thanking this exemplary group of nurses for all they do.

Yom Kippur
Yom Kippur, also known as the Day of Atonement, was this week and is the holiest day of the year for those of the Jewish faith. Yom Kippur has a unique place in the Jewish calendar. Following Rosh Hashanah – the Jewish New Year – Yom Kippur marks the end of the 10 days of repentance, which is a time to reflect on wrongdoings and pledge to do better as the New Year begins.

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