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RE: Condition update for Rita Chretien, 3:15 p.m., May 8

May 8, 2011

Following is a brief summary of the comments made today by Dr. James Westberry, board certified internal medicine, hospitalist, at a media briefing regarding the progress of Rita Chretien.

Condition Update:

When Ms. Chretien arrived our focus was on dealing with the expected findings of starvation.  Our initial priority was addressing her medical issues.  Fortunately she has done very well.  Over the past few days, we have been able to advance her feedings and she has tolerated them very well.

She is currently on a liquid diet.  We are advancing her very slowly over the next several days in order to allow her body time to re-adjust to food.

Her strength is coming back nicely. We are moving very slow with physical therapy.  It will take time for her activity to get back to what we consider “baseline.”

It is extremely rare for a person to go this long without food. She had some nutrition while she was stranded although it was definitely not adequate and she was dehydrated.  Amazingly, we are not seeing significant long-term issues right now.

It could be a week or maybe several days before she is discharged.

We are optimistic she will have a very good recovery.  The support she has received from her family will aid in her recovery.

What contributed to her success?

  • She was in very good baseline health to begin with and that has worked in her favor.
  • She has been calm, in good spirits, and these factors have also helped her recover.
  • She had the mindset of survival. She didn’t give up.
  • The support of her family.
  • Her strong faith.

It is very unusual that a person would survive this type of ordeal let alone be doing this well at this time.  As a physician, caring for a patient like this is most certainly a once in a lifetime experience.

I’m so thankful she had the spiritual basis to get through this – what others would see as insurmountable odds. It’s understandable to call this outcome a miracle.

Considering the volume of requests from the media, the family will not be participating in individual interviews. Rita Chretien has chosen not to participate in interviews at this time. The family continues to appreciate the media’s respect in honoring this decision.

There will be no additional condition updates provided today.