A Life-Altering Emergency Department Encounter
A letter of appreciation to the Methodist Hospital Emergency Department
You probably don't remember me, but I will never forget the day we met you in the Methodist Hospital Emergency Department. You may have saved my life.
A vacation cut short
I was on a lengthy vacation with my wife, touring much of the northern U.S. Near the end of our trip we were in rural Iowa. On October 8, I began having severe abdominal pain, which continued to increase in intensity until it was nearly unbearable. After several hours, it became clear that we had to get medical help immediately.
Taking the time needed to diagnose
Early Monday morning, we went to Methodist Omaha, where I was seen after a short time by the Emergency Department staff. From that moment, we could have had a very different outcome without your amazing staff. After many years in healthcare, I am acquainted with the patients who present in the ED with "terrible pain", just wanting to get pain medications. Understandably, the ED staff must determine which patients have an acute emergency, and which do not. In my case, it would have been easy for the staff to give me a little pain medication and send me on my way back home to Utah to see my doctor. Fortunately for me, they took my complaint very seriously and did diagnostic evaluations until the cause of my pain was discovered.
A healthcare worker often doesn't know what kind of impact they had on a patient, but in my case, I feel that the care I received at Methodist gave me the very best possible chance to deal with the unthinkable.
A staff focused on the patient
Azra Bauman was the PA who cared for me. From the very first encounter, she was excellent. She ordered an abdominal ultrasound to assess the condition of my gallbladder. The first miracle happened when the ultrasound tech came personally to the ED to take me for the test because patient transport was backed up. She was pleasant and professional. She began taking images in the routine fashion. However, something apparently didn't seem right to her. She became more serious and focused. She took extra time and seemed to take more images from many different angles.
Compassionate and caring
When Azra looked at the ultrasound report, she immediately ordered a CT Abdomen and Pelvis. She explained to me and my wife that the gallbladder was fine but there was something else they wanted to check. After the CT, Azra came into our room. She was compassionate and empathetic as she told us that the CT report indicated an area in my abdomen described as "concerning for neoplasm, malignancy/lymphoma."
We were in shock. Words cannot describe the feelings we experienced hearing news like that when only a day before we had been having a wonderful time, healthy and happy without any indication of the medical problem. Azra was attentive and concerned for me and also for my wife, who was very emotional. My wife is an oncology nurse; therefore, this news was even more devastating to her because of her nursing experience. From that moment, we changed our plans, as well as our perspective.
A return home
We returned to Utah as soon as possible and began the process of diagnosis and treatment. We have met with an oncologist here, have had four biopsies, and are learning about the world of chemotherapy and cancer treatment. As life-altering as this diagnosis is, it has made us more appreciative of those who use their knowledge, skills, and abilities to care for the health of others.
Could have been dismissed
As a side note, my pain resolved a few days after the Omaha Methodist ED visit. If the cause of the pain hadn't been discovered there, it might have been a long time until the lymphoma was diagnosed. In the meantime it would have continued to spread unchecked, leading to a less desirable outcome. A healthcare worker often doesn't know what kind of impact they had on a patient, but in my case, I feel that the care I received at Methodist gave me the very best possible chance to deal with the unthinkable. All of your training and experience, hard work, and humanity were evident on that day. You will have an opportunity to touch many lives in your career and we are grateful that mine was one of them.
A second chance
An update as of March 10, 2018. Interestingly the lymphoma was caught in the early stages of the disease. A bone marrow biopsy was clear and there was no evidence that the cancer had spread from the originally suspected lymph nodes. After chemotherapy and radiation treatments to the abdomen Steven was declared in remission and our lives are slowly getting back to normal.
We have plans to complete our vacation in June followed by a scuba diving trip to Cozumel Mexico in July. You have given us a second chance and we will never forget the care we received at Methodist Hospital in Omaha Nebraska.
With sincere gratitude,
Steven and Katherine Turk