How frightening to be over a thousand miles from home, pulled over by the
highway patrol and unable to communicate with them. After running his
license, the highway patrol officer discovered that the man was listed as a
missing person from a western state. He was unable to answer any of the
officer’s questions, so he was taken to Jackson-Madison County General
Hospital’s Emergency Room for an examination.
It didn’t take Nurse Practitioner Stephanie Young long to determine that her
patient couldn’t verbally communicate because of impairments from an
earlier stroke. He could understand everything that being said, but could
only respond with one word, “Better.” When Stephanie explained the
situation to the highway patrol officer, the relief on her patient’s face was
evident. He immediately bonded with Stephanie – the one person he knew
understood his condition.
It turned out that the patient had six adult children, all who were frantic to
find their father. He had not driven in over three years, but had suddenly
decided to go across the country to see relatives, hopped in his car and was
During the course of the next three days, Stephanie spoke to all six of the children, providing them with updates on their
father. Several of the children headed to airports, coming to Tennessee to bring their dad home. As luck would have it,
horrendous weather conditions delayed their flights for days. Their father, in the meantime, was kept in the ER until his
children could arrive three days later. He was doted on and cared for by all the staff and physicians, but especially by
Stephanie. Their initial bond only grew stronger with each passing day.
Whenever the patient heard Stephanie’s voice in the hall, he would call out, “Better, better, better, better,” to get her
attention, and she always came into his room with a smile. Stephanie made sure he had something clean to wear and
coordinated a trip upstairs so that he could have a shower. Each morning she would bring him coffee and a banana for
an early breakfast, and each evening she would tuck him into bed before he went to sleep. Stephanie was going off duty
the day his children were finally arriving. Her patient was sleeping when she left. Not wanting to just disappear from his
life, Stephanie left him a goodbye note, letting him know that she wouldn’t be seeing him again before his children arrived
to take him home.
We are thankful, Stephanie, for your medical prowess that allowed you to determine almost immediately why this patient
was unable to verbally communicate. We are just as thankful for your continuing kindness and your compassion toward
this patient and his family members. There is no doubt you made all of their lives “better.”