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"Quality, Compassion and Communication Impress Patient"

On Feb. 7, Joyce H. spent the day babysitting her grandkids and preparing dinner. That evening, she sat down with a snack, and moments later her husband, Mike, walked into the living room and found her doubled over and non-responsive.

“Joyce was bleeding from the mouth, and her eyes were rolled back in her head,” Mike said. “At the time, I suspected a stroke. I ran to call 911, and it seemed like no time at all before I heard the sirens.”

Mike called his sons, one of whom lived nearby.

“He picked me up and took me to Mercy (Hospital of Tiffin), where they already had her hooked up to IVs,” Mike said. “The Emergency Department doctor (Michael Piatz, MD) told me she was very sick, that she was losing blood, and they didn’t know where it was coming from or why. He said, ‘We’re going to get her ready to go to Toledo.’ I appreciated that they recognized she needed to go to St. V’s right away. They didn’t try to be heroes and take on more than they should.”

As a Life Flight helicopter made its way to Tiffin from its base in Fremont, the Mercy Tiffin ED doctors and staff prepared Joyce for transport and provided Mike with directions to Mercy St. Vincent Medical Center.

When Mike and his son arrived at St. V’s, an ED nurse greeted them and took them to see Joyce, who was “hooked up to a lot of tubes.”

“She walked us through everything they were doing,” Mike said. “She really put us at ease, because even though there was still so much unknown at the time, we felt she was updating us as much and as well as possible, and it seemed that they were doing everything they could to care for Joyce and find the root of the problem.”

Joyce was admitted to the Intensive Care Unit, where again, Mike said the communication was excellent.

“In a situation like that, the worst thing is not knowing what is going on,” he said. “But they told us everything they were doing and what they were trying to find out. At that point, they had her stabilized, but they were still transfusing blood – they’d given her four units by then, and they were still pumping blood out of her stomach. It was obvious she’d had internal bleeding for a while and not been aware of it.”

With the encouragement of Joyce’s physicians and other care providers, Mike and his son drove back to Tiffin to try to sleep for a few hours, and then returned to Toledo.

“My other son also drove up from Hilliard,” Mike said. “When we all got there, they let us visit her in the ICU, even though it was not during normal visiting hours. The nurse told us Dr. Zak (David Zak, MD) was going to come in and do a scope. When he arrived, he was very thorough in explaining everything – both before and after the procedure, which he did right in her room. He told us he sent a scope down into her stomach and found an ulcer with a blood vessel that had burst and caused all of the bleeding. He had cauterized and sealed the vessel and said she would be on the road to recovery now. He was so comforting in the way he explained everything – very professional, thorough and, at the same time, compassionate.”

The next day, Mike said Dr. Zak even took time to sit with him at one of the computers at the nurses station and explain what he had done and its effect.

“He explained to me about blood count, and how it had been an eight before the scope and then jumped to a 10 and then up to 11 after. He used laymen’s terms as he walked me through everything. He explained in detail, not in doctor’s language, but in a way I could understand so well that I was even able to relay everything to my sons.”

Joyce also had developed pneumonia, as well as a blood clot in one of her legs. She spent several more days in the hospital, and during this time, Northwest Ohio was hit with a major winter storm. Mike was unable to get to the hospital to see Joyce for a couple of days, but her nurses assured him that she was being well-cared-for, and he appreciated being able to call directly to her room and talk to her several times a day.

As the Harts prepared for Joyce’s discharge, they reflected on the quality of the care and service they received from the physicians, nurses and ancillary care providers.

“All of the nurses were so kind and accommodating during my entire stay,” Joyce said. “You got the sense that you were not just another patient – they showed real concern and delivered care with a personal touch. When I was in the ICU, I had pictures of my grandkids taped to my bedrails. When they moved me to Step-Down, one of the pictures fell off. I was so impressed that the next day, one of the ICU nurses found it and took the time to bring it to me in my new room.”

When the Harts returned to Toledo and resumed care with their primary care physician, they were impressed that he had already been briefed quite thoroughly on her ordeal.

“The communication between the doctors at St. V’s and our local physician was very good,” Mike said.

Mike said he hopes he will never have to accompany his wife to the hospital again, but in the event of any potential future medical emergencies, he would trust the Mercy system with her life any time.

“Overall, outside of her being sick, it was a good experience,” Mike said. “I couldn’t have asked for better care, both in Tiffin and Toledo.”

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