Quick decision-making and dedication by doctors and nurses in the emergency department save lives.
That’s what Mandy Harmon, 29, a member of the hospital’s environmental services team, found out firsthand when she was rushed to the St. Luke’s McCall emergency department on an early December night.
After years of suffering from polycystic ovarian syndrome and endometriosis, Harmon had a successful hysterectomy in November at St. Luke’s Boise, but experienced a setback a few weeks later when an internal stitch from the surgery nicked an artery, causing internal bleeding.
Some bleeding was expected post-surgery, but not like she experienced. Harmon tried to stay calm. She called her mom who told her to call the hospital’s emergency department. Her husband helped her to the car and drove her to St. Luke’s McCall.
When she arrived, the team was ready for her. Nurse Shannon Nelson met her at the door with a wheelchair and Health Unit Coordinator Krystal Grothjan had her identification band ready.
Nelson started an IV and immediately got Dr. Jon Currey, the emergency physician on duty that night. The emergency team knew it was serious and called in General Surgeon Dr. Amy Ocmand, the surgical team and Dr. Julie Welty, the backup emergency doctor on call.
Harmon’s blood pressure was getting dangerously low due to significant blood loss. She began to understand how serious it was, and panic set in.
“I asked to kiss my husband before going to surgery,” she recalled. “I didn’t know what would happen and if I would ever see him again.
“Dr. Currey grabbed my arm and said, ‘I know you’re scared, but I’ve got you.’
“At that moment, I felt like he went from being my doctor to being my friend. Dr. Welty, too.”
Arrangements for Harmon’s transfer to St. Luke’s Boise were already in the works, but as there was a winter storm that night, transport would need to be by ground ambulance versus the quicker helicopter option.
There was concern that a clamp, temporarily placed to stop the bleeding, might not hold during the ambulance ride. At the last minute, Dr. Currey jumped in the ambulance to accompany Harmon.
They rendezvoused with a Boise ambulance team in Smith’s Ferry to complete the transport, Dr. Currey, assured that the clamp was going to hold, returned to McCall with the ambulance crew.
After arriving at St. Luke’s Boise, it became apparent that additional surgery was not necessary. Harmon stayed overnight in the ICU before being transferred to the hospital’s women’s care unit. She had a full recovery and returned to work in January. The quick decision-making of the team, however, will stay with her always.
“I am beyond thankful for the decisions that were made that night. If any of those decisions had been delayed, I might not be here today.
“I’m proud to live my life in this community and work at this hospital and be a part of this amazing team. This is right where I want to be.”
Laura Crawford works in the Communications and Marketing department at St. Luke's.