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Payton Downey and Toni Powell – Hearts Afire!

April 28, 2020
Payton Downey, RN,            Emergency Department          Jackson-Madison County General Hospital
Toni Powell, Patient Care Technician Emergency Department          Jackson-Madison County General Hospital

Nurse Payton Downey was walking down the hall in the Jackson-Madison County General Hospital ER. A distraught patient stopped her and frantically asked, “Where am I, and where is my dog?!”  Payton first reassured the patient that all of her medical needs were being addressed, then promised to start investigating the location of her pet. In talking with the patient, it soon became clear that the emotional support dog had been unaccounted for during the previous two hours.

Payton spent the next hour talking with the patient’s family, police and EMS.  She learned that the patient, who was from another county, had a medical emergency on the interstate and was brought directly to the ER, where she had little memory of what had occurred.  After talking to everyone involved, Payton was sure that the dog was still in the car on the interstate. The patient’s closest family members were over two hours away, so Payton asked permission to leave her shift early so that she could go in search of the dog.

Toni Powell, Patient Care Technician, volunteered to leave early and accompany Payton.  Toni is a dog lover, but also knew that Payton was new to the area and finding a car on the interstate after dark would not be easy.  After half an hour of driving, they finally saw the car on the side of the interstate.  The car was still running, the keys in the ignition and the dog was inside!  At first the dog was a little skittish, but soon warmed up to Payton and Toni.  They called ahead to get permission to bring the small emotional support dog back to the ER. When they walked into the patient’s room, she immediately started crying tears of joy.  The little dog lit up like a Christmas tree, so glad to be back with its owner. The patient immediately called her mother to let her know the beloved pet was back in her arms.

How terrifying it must be not to remember where you are or why you are there.  Then to realize that your constant companion and best friend, a loveable little dog, is nowhere to be found. Thank you, Payton and Toni, for using your own personal time to go in search of this dog on the patient’s behalf.  We can only imagine what a miserable night it would have been for the patient worrying about her little dog, and for the dog trapped inside a vehicle.  Thanks to you, it was a happy ending for both the patient and her dog!