(Media release from Atrium Health Floyd):

When you live alone and are medically fragile, even small hiccups can create health-interrupting stress that can feel like an emergency. That was the case with an elderly patient of Atrium Health Floyd EMS first responders Jennifer Ellison and Jeff LeClaire.

The pair responded to a home they had been to before a week or so earlier when the patient had fallen in her bathroom and needed emergency medical care. Now, she was again in need. She was alone with no family or friends nearby and recently discharged from the hospital. She was weak from attempting to clean her home, nervous that her cell phone service was poor and fearful that she would miss important follow-up care.

Jennifer and Jeff quickly discerned that this was not a medical emergency but a patient in crisis. She needed encouragement and resource support, and that is exactly what they provided.

The patient, whose recovery was dependent on home health care, knew a nurse was supposed to come to see her, but, because of her failing cell service, she was afraid she had missed her call. So, Jeff and Jennifer called the home health nurse and learned she could not come that evening, but would be visiting the next morning. This news furthered their patient’s fear as she was afraid, she would not be able to take care of herself during the night. She relayed that fear to her nearest relative, who lives in Florida. Again, the pair intervened, speaking with the relative to reassure him they were there and would ensure their patient was safe and receiving the care she needed.

As they worked with her, Jennifer and Jeff addressed their patient’s primary concerns, helping her to better understand her discharge medications and instructions. They took time to read and explain each medication and the importance of taking it correctly. Recognizing she was fearful of not having anything to eat that evening, Jennifer went to the kitchen where she heated soup and found crackers for the patient. They first responders sat with her while she ate her meal and made sure she was drinking fluids. The patient told Jeff and Jennifer that her simple dinner that evening was better than any five-star restaurant.

Then, Jennifer helped the patient to the bathroom and helped her get ready for bed, again making sure she had taken in fluids and nourishment. Before leaving, the pair assured their patient they were a phone call away and ensured she was calm.

Time doesn’t always permit these kinds of interactions, where the ordinary becomes extraordinary, but when it does, teammates like Jeff and Jennifer know they have permission to follow through.

“Our job extends beyond providing exceptional medical care,” Jennifer said. “We are encouraged to provide exceptional ‘caring’ to those we are blessed to serve”.

That kind of care does not go unnoticed. The patient’s Florida family member later called Floyd EMS to praise Jeff and Jennifer.

“I don’t know who you folks are,” he said, “but we sure don’t receive care like this from providers in Florida.”