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Medical Center

‘Making a difference every day’

‘I owe my husband's life to MUSC’

Dear Mr. Smith,
I wanted to take a moment to send you a note of thanks and recognition to your team of professionals at MUSC.  I wish I had taken better notes to remember all the names of true heroes at MUSC; thus, if I am forgetting anyone, please forgive me.
On Jan. 26, I was on my way out of town when I found my husband Richard (Rickey) on the couch non-responsive and burning up with fever. He started to complain about a sore throat on Saturday, and Sunday he feared that he’d picked up a flu bug at work. Monday morning he woke at around 4 a.m. and started to cough. Within the next three hours, he slipped into a coma. I could not wake him up and called 911.
Dorchester EMS responded within four minutes along with the fire department, and by 8:30 a.m. he was in the ambulance on the way to MUSC. This was our first sign of good luck as EMS first wanted to take him to Trident Medical Center. They changed their minds when they suspected Rickey might have suffered a stroke.
I followed the ambulance to MUSC and got there right after EMS brought him into the ER. A team of nurses, residents and the ER physician gave Rickey their immediate care and attention.  A CAT scan was ordered and performed, but there was no indication of a stroke.  One of the resident doctors, John (I only remembered his first name), asked me if he had a UTI. When he received the catheter his urine was brown and bloody, an immediate sign of a raging infection. Dr. Wong from the MICU came down and checked for stiffness in the neck, but Rickey only gave us a moan. He was completely in a coma at this point. His temperature was at 103.7 and his blood pressure shot up to dangerous levels.  Dr. Wong ordered a lumbar puncture and Rickey was transferred to the MICU around noon. The LP was performed at around 1 p.m., and by 3 p.m. we received the news: extreme high pressure on his spine and a very high count of white blood cells in his spinal fluid and blood. It was meningitis. Rickey was entering the fight for his life.
The next two days were the toughest of my life, and if it wouldn’t have been for all the great staff in the MICU, I don’t think Rickey would have made it. Kyle the RN and Craig the RT made sure that he was well looked after. During shift changes, the relief staff introduced themselves and told me that I could call or come by at any time, and they all held true to their word!
Rickey was in a coma until Wednesday, Jan. 28, when Dr. Stenbit opened Rickey’s right eye and saw movement. She asked in a commanding voice, “What is your name?” Rickey dutifully answered. She then asked for his last name, and he answered correctly again. She then asked who was standing next to him, and he answered, “That’s my wife.”  “And next to her?” Dr. Stenbit asked. “That’s my daughter.” He knew that he was in the hospital, but he was still very groggy. It was a wink from God, and I was especially grateful that he awoke with his two favorite girls being there.  The neurologist tickled his feet and quickly found out that Rickey didn’t like it that much. But it was all good news as it started to become apparent that he did not suffer neurological damage.
On Thursday at 2 a.m., Rickey tried to get out of bed. Jill, the nurse on duty, had her hands full!  Rickey knew that he would have been on night shift that day, and he told Jill, “I work nights. I need to call the plant!” Jill convinced him the plant knew he wouldn’t be coming in that night, which calmed him down. For some odd reason, I called Jill at 2:30 a.m. and she said she had a funny story for me. With great relief and a tear of laughter I sat down in the chair and fell asleep, the first sleep in a few days.
That Thursday night Rickey was transferred from MICU to 8W. Jill and Heather transported Rickey to 8W, room 873.  Rickey gave the double “victory” sign as he was leaving the MICU and everyone cheered for him.
Lisa and TaShawna on 8W got Rickey situated in his room and it was time for me to go home and feed the cats. Friday morning Rickey had a lot of visitors during the rounds, as his recovery was simply remarkable. Every one of the residents wanted to see him, as they had never seen a Pneumococcal Meningitis patient before. Rickey was back to his true form when a doctor asked him if he knew where he was and he answered, “Trident!” After a short pause, he said, “I am just kidding!”  And I knew then that my old Rickey was back!
The highlight on 8W was definitely Nurse Diana, who was also the charge nurse on Saturday.  She had her hands full.  She took all the time and care, and I saw her there until 9:30 p.m. (which is 90 minutes after her shift ended). Then she was back before 7 a.m. Sunday.  What a dedicated employee! She really deserves a lot of recognition.
Your cleaning lady, I can’t remember her name, is a 61-year-old math teacher from Albania, and her daughter is a cardiologist in Ashley River Tower. She was just a darling and reminded me a lot of my own mother. She was just so sweet, and I need to tell her “thank you” for talking with me.
Jay the CA was terrific. He personified the meaning of Care Assistant! He read Rickey’s every wish and always asked if I wanted or needed anything.  What a true gem!
Grace and Johnetta also receive our accolades for taking good care of my special patient.
Monday at 7 p.m. we left MUSC as Dr. Axom and Dr. Baxter felt comfortable to leave him in my care. He made such an astounding recovery at MUSC that they felt comfortable discharging him. 
Also, thank you to Natalie Judy and Marie Annette Turner, both RN’s at MUSC who took me to lunch and got my thoughts away from the situation!  Thank you for being such good friends and family.

Silvia M. Judy

Employees of the Month

Jason Santanna,
Pre-Op Surgery, ART
I had only brought my checkbook, no cash, so Jason paid for my husband’s lunch, and later a cup of coffee. He even gave us money to cover the parking. Jason came to the rescue. He is a caring and wonderful man.
—Sherron Jackson, Patient

Val Brown,
We had a very busy morning on the C- side, without a tech and got slammed with patients, one of them very sick and requiring 1:1 nursing and even 2:1 nursing care. Val was not only our secretary but also acted as a tech, patient relations rep, transporter, warm blanket giver and patient hydrator. We could not have done it without her going the extra mile, above and beyond her job.
—Abby, Monica and Hanneke, Employees

Robert Harrington,
A 12-year-old patient learned that he had an unusual cancer during his MOHS surgery that began during the week of Dec. 15. He underwent three separate procedures that week with the prospect of additional surgeries being required during Christmas week. Our staff was especially stressed as a result of these tragic circumstances the week before Christmas. Our worry was that the young man’s surgeries would not be completed prior to Christmas since his surgical margins were still positive as of Friday afternoon, Dec 19. Mr. Harrington volunteered to work on this boy’s surgical specimens on Dec. 21, his normal day off when others were running around trying to complete their Christmas shopping. I believe that Mr. Harrington’s compassion for the patient and his willingness to make a personal sacrifice in order to ensure that the tissue samples were ready for diagnosis prior to Monday morning reflects the caring we hope our employees will exhibit toward our patients. Bobbie’s sacrifice made it possible for the young boy’s family to learn that all of the cancer had been removed prior to Christmas, which offers the best possibility of cure.
—Vinnie Della Speranza, Pathology Manager

2nd Quarter Standards
Maintain a safe and secure environment for patients, families and staff
  • Clean up litter, debris and spills promptly
  •  Always wash hands before patient contact
  •  Put patients and families  at ease by managing up coworkers

Friday, March 13, 2009

The Catalyst Online is published weekly by the MUSC Office of Public Relations for the faculty, employees and students of the Medical University of South Carolina. The Catalyst Online editor, Kim Draughn, can be reached at 792-4107 or by email, Editorial copy can be submitted to The Catalyst Online and to The Catalyst in print by fax, 792-6723, or by email to To place an ad in The Catalyst hardcopy, call Island Publications at 849-1778, ext. 201.