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Hearts Afire!

2015 Story of the Year

Hudson has been going to Sports Plus Rehab – Dyersburg since he was six months old. He was born with no muscle tone which left him very physically challenged and in a wheelchair. Hudson’s therapists, Amy Staggs, and Shelley Seratt have been working with him from day one. They push hard for Hudson to do his therapy so he can improve physically. Therapy is hard for Hudson, and even though he loves Amy and Shelley, he does not always love having to work so hard in therapy.

For Christmas, Hudson received a pair of handcuffs because he had been obsessed with policemen for at least six months. Hudson asked anyone who would listen, “Would someone please arrest Ms. Amy and Ms. Shelley~~?~~” for working him so hard? “Take them away in handcuffs!” he had been heard to say over and over again. As Hudson’s birthday approached, Amy and Shelley decided to grant Hudson’s wish. Another patient at Sports Plus had heard Hudson’s comments and offered to call a policeman friend of his to “arrest them”· When Sergeant Bill Danley and Patrolman Jeff Fain heard about Hudson. They were more than willing to fulfill the little boy’s wish.

At Hudson’s next therapy session, Sergeant Danley and Patrolman Fain came in uniform and handcuffed Amy and Shelley in front of Hudson. They told Hudson they were arresting them “because I hear they’re bad therapists.” While Amy and Shelley pretended to cry, Hudson started shouting, “Take them! Take them”! Onlookers said that in those 20 minutes, Hudson moved more than he had in his whole life, almost jumping completely out of his wheelchair! Before leaving that day, the policemen gave Hudson a sticker and encouraged him to keep working and doing his best. For someone who idolized policemen, that was high encouragement indeed for Hudson!

Thank you, Amy and Shelley, for taking the time to arrange such a special birthday treat for a young patient with many challenges. There is no doubt this was a birthday Hudson will always remember.

Honorable Mention - Sarah Ortiz

Harry was in his late 80’s. He was deaf, lived alone, and had no family in the Jackson area. One day Harry came to Jackson-Madison County General 

Hospital searching for someone who could help him pay his household bills. A call went out to Sarah Ortiz, Sign Language Interpreter, who came to Harry’s aid in a flash. As it turned out, Harry forgot to bring his checkbook with him so the bills couldn’t be paid. Regardless, Sarah made phone calls to several companies to find out how much Harry needed to pay at that time. The next day Harry brought his checkbook, Sarah paid the bills, and Harry left with tears of gratitude in his eyes.

A few days later, Harry was back! He needed more help paying bills, but forgot his checkbook again. Sarah decided that instead of Harry having to come back to the hospital the next day, she would go to his home that evening and help him write and mail checks for all his bills.

That evening Sarah and her husband took envelopes and stamps to Harry’s home. Harry welcomed them in and led them to the kitchen table where he stacked his bills. He wanted Sarah to figure out what bills needed to be paid, write checks for them, and address and stamp the envelopes. Meanwhile, Harry entertained Ortiz with stories about his life and the places he had traveled. Before long, all the bills were paid and Harry was so very grateful! He was so grateful and impressed with Sarah, that Harry came back to her a third time for help with his bills, and Sarah patiently assisted him again.

Sarah made such an impression on Harry that he more or less adopted her. Harry keeps in touch and even had someone call to let her know when he was in rehab for a few weeks. While paying bills for Harry could never be considered part of Sarah’s job, it was a kindness she was happy to bestow on Harry – and made a life-long friend in the process!

Honorable Mention - Dr. Joseph Okolo

A patient was very sick. There was nothing medically that could be done to save him – only keep him as comfortable as possible. His family was very emotional and simply overwhelmed with the few remaining options for their loved one, needing many questions answered. Dr. Joseph Okolo was the patient’s doctor and saw him the first day. Dr. Okolo was off the next day but he called the patient’s nurse early the next morning to check on his patient and see how things were going.

The third day was Dr. Okolo’s second day off that week, but he came to the hospital to see the patient and talk with the family. For over an hour he talked with them, explained all the options available for the patient and answered every question they asked. Just before Dr. Okolo left the room, his patient asked if he would read to him from the Bible. Dr. Okolo took the Bible in his hand, sat down in a chair beside the bed and began to read scriptures to his patient and family.

A nurse who observed the scene told us, “It was the most heartwarming thing I have ever witnessed from a physician. It meant so much to me as a nurse: I could hardly hold back my tears. A physician extender who also saw what happened just smiled and told me Dr. Okolo was just that kind of guy.” Thank you. Dr. Okolo, not only for walking this family through all of the ends of life medical issues but for taking time to soothe their souls and give them peace with the words on which their faith is based.

Jessica Beaver

When three-year-old Andrew first came to the Therapy & Learning Center, his family was in crisis and his behaviors were out of control. His behaviors were so disruptive that some thought he might not be able to adapt to society at large. Fortunately for Andrew, his Education Program Coordinator, Jessica Beaver, had a motto: “I don’t give up on any child!” Thanks in large part to Jessica’s commitment to Andrew, he slowly began to respond and improve. It was a proud and happy day when, after two years and a lot of hard work, Andrew graduated from the Therapy & Learning Center.

Andrew started kindergarten and immediately faced another crisis due to his behaviors. Even though he was no longer her patient, Jessica spent hours and hours of personal time advocating for Andrew to give him a chance at success. With his mother’s permission, Jessica met with Andrew’s teacher and shared all of his past behavior plans, schedules, charts, and everything she had learned about Andrew. Armed with the knowledge she needed, Andrew’s teacher learned ways to successfully handle Andrew’s disruptive behaviors, and Andrew began responding positively. Recently Andrew has been recognized for good behaviors, received a certificate for his hard work and has been seen helping other children with their school work!

To this day, Jessica continues to visit Andrew’s school and offers herself as a resource and support person. She spends some of her free time providing encouragement and talking with Andrew’s mother, to whom she has become a trusted friend. Jessica continues a friendship with Andrew and goes by the school to have lunch with him once a month. She also continually provides support, encouragement, and help to Andrew’s family as challenges occur.

There can be no doubt that Jessica’s sheer determination, perseverance, and dedication to Andrew played a large and ongoing part in his success. He has come a long way from a child who might not be able to fit into society to one who is flourishing and helping others. Andrew’s future is now wide open with possibilities, thanks in part to Jessica who could not conceive in giving up on a child.

Alan Spivey

One of the most devastating results of mental illness can be isolation from friends, family, and loved ones. Alan Spivey’s client of fourteen years was wary of friendships with others and lived in self-imposed isolation, even from his family, leaving him with no support system.

Over the years, Alan’s respect for his client led to a close-knit relationship between the two. Knowing that his client had no friends or family for support, Alan always looked for ways to interject a little kindness into his life. It might be through a ticket to a wrestling match (one of his client’s favorite pastimes), or the purchase of wrestling-themed items, or even a meal from the client’s favorite fast food restaurant. When the client’s birthday or Christmas rolled around, Alan always had gifts for him – the only gifts he would receive.

When his client began experiencing severe health problems, it took months of Alan’s encouragement before his client agreed to see a physician. When his client finally saw the doctor, Alan was by his side. It was the client’s wish to refuse medical treatment for his condition. As he became ill and confined to bed, Alan’s support was always there, as were his continuing acts of kindness, such as the occasional candy bar or small gift to lift his client’s spirits. When his client peacefully died, Alan continued to care for him as if he were family. Alan coordinated with community resources to make all final arrangements and even located long lost brothers of his client.

For fourteen years, Alan was not only his client’s case manager, but he was also his only friend. Time and time again, Alan went far above his case manager obligations to bring kindness to this client who allowed no one else in his life. When his client’s life was over, it continued to be Alan who made sure he received dignity, even in death, and was remembered by at least one person who genuinely cared for him. For years of unfailing support and kindness to this client, we salute you, Alan!

Kim Tucker & Sarah Ortiz

Jose had come to Jackson, Tennessee, with the promise of a job and a place to live. Unfortunately, things did not turn out as expected. He got very sick on the first day of his new job and was fired by his employer. Since his employer had been providing him a place to live, Jose was suddenly both sick and homeless. To make things worse, he spoke only Spanish and a dialect that was not easily understood in West Tennessee. Walking aimlessly, with nowhere to go, Jose passed out. A passerby saw him on the roadside and called 911. Soon Jose was at Jackson-Madison County General Hospital’s ER.

After being medically treated and discharged, Jose still had nowhere to go. Kim Tucker, Social Services Manager, and Sarah Ortiz, Language Services Coordinator, came right away to assist Jose. First on the agenda was to get him a meal since he had not eaten that day. Kim was able to get his prescription filled at no charge since Jose had no money. The big dilemma was lodging for Jose. A shelter seemed the best option. Kim worked to get a shelter lined up for Jose, but both she and Sarah were concerned about this option. It would require Jose, who was sick and spoke no English, to stand in a line for several hours, unable to communicate and wait for a bus.

She was so concerned about him that Sarah initially made plans to ride with Jose and wait with him for the bus to arrive. Then Sarah had a better idea! She called a local church that works with the Spanish community. After explaining the situation, and with the new knowledge that Jose had friends and the possibility of work in Atlanta, the church committed to purchasing a bus ticket to Atlanta for Jose. Sarah called a taxi in Atlanta and arranged for them to pick up Jose at the bus station because it was in a dangerous part of town and he would be arriving late at night. She even gave her own money to Jose to pay for the cab. Once all the details were worked out, Jose was on his way to Atlanta with the support of his friends.

Being sick and barely able to communicate is a scary situation; even more so when there are only strangers to help you. Kim and Sarah came to Jose’s rescue that day and spent several hours advocating for him. Their determination and compassion helped get Jose back to his friends and the possibility of a new start for his life. It was all worth it when two weeks later Jose called Sarah, told her he was well and working, and sent his thanks to all the kind strangers who helped him when he was unable to care for himself.

Nicole Edwards

Some children are born healthy; growing and thriving from the minute they arrive. Others face a challenge just to stay well from day to day, while their parents struggle to do all within their power to meet their every need.

Nicole Edwards was cleaning and making things shine in the Pediatrics unit when she met a mother and her little son, Jacori. Jacori had been sick most of his life and was in and out of the hospital with regularity. His mother was his only family, handling all the worry and decisions on her own. That particular day was a special one for Jacori – it was his first birthday!

As Nicole cleaned, she could not get little Jacori and his mom out of her mind. She thought about them and prayed for them. It was heartbreaking to know that Jacori was spending his very first birthday sick and in a hospital. Nicole made a decision. Being in a hospital was no reason not to celebrate Jacori’s birthday. Nicole went to the hospital gift shop and got him a balloon, stuffed animal, lollypop, and card. Nicole even used markers to decorate the gift bag. While little Jacori may not have known it was his birthday, his mother certainly did. She was so comforted to know that someone had cared enough to join her in celebrating her only child’s special day.

At a hard time in this family’s life, Nicole decided to make a positive difference for them. While the small gifts Nicole brought Jacori will not last forever, the family will always remember the caring and compassionate staff member who helped make his first birthday a special one.

Mark McMinn

A young mother with small children was very sick. Her brain was swelling and chances were growing stronger that she would need to be put into a medically induced coma to allow for the best chance of survival. The drug needed to produce the coma was one that is generally used only in trauma designated hospitals, so the pharmacy team went into action to obtain the drug.

The drug manufacturer was contacted and could ship the drug, but the delivery time might have been too long for the patient’s needs. The best plan would be to purchase the drug from a trauma hospital in Memphis to make sure it would be available when the patient needed it. Assistant Director of Pharmacy Mark McMinn enlisted the help of co-workers and started making phone calls to Memphis. They had difficulty finding the drug at several hospitals but finally, hit pay dirt. Arrangements were made to purchase the drug and have it shipped overnight the next day.

Mark filled out two lengthy forms to obtain the drug. As he worked, he thought about the patient. What if the situation got critical faster than anticipated? What if the drug did not arrive at the promised time? Both of those scenarios were unacceptable to Mark. According to Mark, “I would hope that we all treat our patients like family. I have daughters about the same age as that patient, and I would hope that if something similar happened to them, someone would intervene to increase their medical options.”

With that thought on his mind, Mark took the two forms, got in his personal vehicle, and drove to Memphis during afternoon rush hour to pick up the drug. The only acceptable solution to the problem was to pick up the drug and deliver it safely back to Jackson General that same day, ready and waiting for the patient when she needed it. Early that evening, a tired but satisfied Mark called the doctor to let him know the drug had arrived at Jackson General and would be there for his patient.

Every day in healthcare, staff, and physicians strive to meet the needs of their patients and doing a good job at it. Then there are staff members like Mark, who let their actions be guided solely by the needs of those patients and their well-being. Even if it means making a 150-mile trip to ensure that a drug is on hand for a patient whose life may depend on it. Many thanks, Mark, for having the heart of a servant and for keeping the needs of our patients your top priority!

Dawn Davis

Jack was in trouble – both physically and financially. In his 20’s, Jack was the primary support not only for himself but his disabled mother and younger brother as well. He was also recuperating from a brain injury, but continuing to work at an area restaurant. Even with the weight of the world on Jack’s shoulders, he was trying his best to provide for his family. Then another disaster struck. A tooth infection went bad and landed him in a hospital, critically ill. Jack was able to survive his illness but was left with a painful blood clot in his arm. Blood thinner was necessary to treat the blood clot and possibly even save his life.

During Speech Therapy, Jack confided to his therapist that his family had run out of money that month so he was taking his blood thinner once every three days instead of daily, to make it last. Jack’s life was in the balance due to his financial state. When Clinical Manager Dawn Davis heard this story she immediately became Jack’s tireless advocate. No one on Dawn’s watch would have their life in jeopardy just because they couldn’t afford their medicines.

Over the next few days, Dawn made numerous phone calls on Jack’s behalf. From the West Tennessee Healthcare Foundation to his physician, pharmacy, and clinic, Dawn pied Jack’s case. In the end, Dawn worked a miracle. She was able to ensure Jack would receive his vital medications and managed to do it without incurring another medical bill. Now that he is taking his medicines regularly, Jack is getting better and was able to return to work!

Too many times in healthcare, we see patients just like Jack, carrying tremendous burdens and managing the best they can, but barely getting by. It would have been so easy for Jack to fall through the cracks. If Jack had not trusted his therapist enough to talk about his financial state, and if Dawn had not volunteered to take ownership in making sure Jack’s medical needs were met, this story could have had a very different ending. Thank you, Dawn, for hearing this desperate need and for refusing to give up until Jack had the medicines needed for him to get well. The role of the guardian angel suits you!

Eboni James

Eboni James noticed that her patient never seemed to have visitors while he was at Jackson-Madison County General Hospital. He was elderly, not married, and had no children or other family members. Eboni started spending extra time with her patient, visiting him during her breaks to provide him with some company and conversation. It broke her heart when his birthday arrived because he had no visitors and was all alone!

Eboni decided that a birthday celebration was in order. On her break, she purchased birthday balloons and a piece of chocolate cake. When she arrived at her patient’s room, he was so touched that he began to cry. He told her how much her kindness meant to him. Then he confided that he was very lonely and didn’t have anyone else to talk to each day other than her.

“I know it is better to give than to receive,” Eboni told us. “It feels so good to do nice things for people. I’ve learned that thinking about the needs of others is the best way to forget your own.”

Thank you, Eboni, for taking time to reach out to this man who had no one else. Your friendship and kindness helped to ease the loneliness he lived with every day and let him know that someone truly cared.

Roger Jetton

A woman in her 80’s was brought to the Jackson-Madison County General Hospital ER. She was short of breath, dizzy, and had fallen in her apartment. After undergoing tests and being treated, the woman was discharged very early in the morning. That’s when things became challenging. The woman had no family in the area who could come to pick her up. Her only option was to be taken home in an ambulance which would cost her hundreds of dollars!

Roger Jetton had worked the night shift and was getting off work when he heard about the dilemma the woman faced. Instead of going straight home to Crockett County, Roger made a decision to offer the woman a ride home. Just that quickly, the woman’s worries were at an end and she was on her way home. “It was just a little thing to do,” Roger told us, “but it’s the little things that sometimes mean the world to people. I knew that if that was my grandmother, I would want someone to offer her a ride home.” When they arrived at the woman’s apartment. Roger walked her to the door and even visited with her for a few minutes, making sure she was safe and settled in her apartment.

That morning, Roger put his patient’s needs above his own. He made sure she got to the safety of her home as quickly as possible and saved her from having to pay for ambulance transportation. Roger’s reward was seeing how happy the patient was to once again be in the familiar surroundings that she loved.

Robbie Cooper

Anna came to Jackson-Madison County General Hospital and found that her baby needed to be delivered early. She was only 29 weeks pregnant and the baby would weigh about two and a half pounds when she was born. As Anna listened to the risks of delivering the baby early, she became distressed. She had come alone to the hospital and had no one to give her emotional support. Anna really needed support. That day she not only found out her baby needed to be delivered early, she also had to make a decision to take her mother off of life support.

When Robbie Cooper came in to clean her room, she found Anna standing in the corner, sobbing and feeling “beaten down.” Anna explained to Robbie what happened and Robbie immediately pulled her into a hug and began to pray for her. She talked softly to Anna and assured her everything was going to be alright. And it was!

The next day Anna saw Robbie cleaning another room and stopped to speak to her. Robbie told Anna she had been praying for her and the baby and brought the child some outfits to wear and a little stuffed dog. Anna told us later that, “It just touched my heart that somebody I didn’t even know loved me.”

Thank you, Robbie, for seeing a patient’s pain and immediately reaching out to offer her care, hope, and inspiration at a time when she was all alone and afraid for her child. You made a frightening time bearable for this young woman and let her know someone cared.

Joseph Harris

Marlene was not getting better; she was getting worse! After several days, Jerry asked that his wife would be transferred to Jackson-Madison County General Hospital. The prognosis was not good. In fact, no one believed that Marlene would survive. Her best chance was to be placed in a medically induced coma and put on a respirator while being given the best medical care possible.

Because his wife was in the ICU, Jerry could only see her for short periods every day, and he was very worried about her. Joseph Harris, Marlene’s night nurse, understood how difficult it was for Jerry, knowing that his wife was alone and in such critical condition. On one of the worst days, when it seemed Marlene might be dying, Joseph clocked out at the end of his shift and instead of going home, he went to Marlene’s room instead. Joseph sat quietly in the corner of the room for quite some time. When a co-worker asked why he had not gone home, Joseph told her, ‘I’m off work, but I’m going to be her guardian angel tonight.” Joseph stayed more than one evening with Marlene until things started to look better for her.

Over time Marlene fully improved. She told her husband that when she was fading in and out of consciousness in the ICU, she could sense someone in the room and knew it was Joseph. The act of simply being present is a powerful gift, especially to those who are so desperately ill. According to Jerry, “Mr. Joe was an angel – nothing less.” We agree!

NOTE: This story came to us over two years after Marlene left Jackson General. The impact Joseph had on Marlene and her husband was so powerful that they still remember the details and called to let us know the tremendous difference Joseph made for both of them during a serious time.

Heather Shepherd

A visitor at Jackson-Madison County General Hospital was sitting in her car in one of the parking garages. She wrote to tell us that what she witnessed in the garage gave her faith that “there are still angels here on earth!” Here’s the story she shared with us.

I was sitting in my car, getting ready to leave the hospital after visiting a friend, when I saw an elderly man walking around in the garage. He had a limp. Out of nowhere, a lady walked up to him to see if he was okay. He told her he was lost. I watched from my car as the lady took the man’s keys and told him to stand still – she was going to find his vehicle for him! She walked to the top of the garage but didn’t find the car. Then she went all the way to the bottom of the garage, where she found the car and drove it back to the man. She did not want him to walk two levels to reach his car.

The man was so relieved and touched that he both smiled and cried as he thanked the woman. He even tried to pay her, but she told him it was her job to help people. I got out of my car about that time and asked the woman her name. It was Heather Shepherd, a CNA from A8. I could tell by the smile on Heather’s face that it was the man’s smile and his obvious relief that was her reward. Heather is an amazing woman and she will go far in her professions!

Thanks, Heather, for easing this man’s burden that day. On a day when he was tired and having difficulty walking, your servant’s heart took his worries away. Bless you!

Jon Dycus

When you have a chronic disease, life is not easy. Sometimes even getting to medical appointments is a real struggle. A man walked into the Humboldt Medical Center very short of breath. He had been to see his doctor that morning who wanted him to have a chest x-ray at the Center. Someone dropped the man off for his doctor’s appointment, so not having transportation, the man walked the quarter mile from there to Humboldt Medical Center. The staff immediately put him in a wheelchair and took him to radiology.

Radiology Tech Jon Dycus could see his patient was struggling to catch his breath. At first, the man was not able to stand for his x-ray. Finally, given something to lean against, he and had the test done. The man explained to Jon that he had COPD, a disease that makes it difficult to breathe, especially after exertion. He used oxygen to help him breathe when he was at home but didn’t bring his oxygen tank with him to the doctor’s appointment. He explained that on his way to the Center, he stopped numerous times and once almost passed out. Unfortunately, the friend coming to pick the man up would be waiting at the doctor’s office, so the man would need to walk another quarter mile back there.

It was in the high 80’s and humid outside. Jon’s compassionate heart would not allow his patient to attempt to walk back to his doctor’s office. Instead, Jon put his work aside and pushed the man in the wheelchair to his destination, a half a mile round trip in the heat for Jon. Without Jon’s help, the man could have faced serious medical complications. According to one of Jon’s co-workers, “In my opinion, my co-worker, Jon Dycus, set an excellent example of what going above and beyond really means.” We couldn’t agree more!

Lynn Westover

Ruth was 82 years old and was going home after a stay at Jackson-Madison County General Hospital. Her Social Worker, Lynn Westover, had worked for several hours to find a pharmacy that carried the new medicine Ruth needed. It was a Friday afternoon, and Lynn found that most of the pharmacies didn’t have the medicine until Monday or they did not have enough doses.

As a last resort, Lynn called the pharmacy for employees at the hospital to see if they could help. They had the medicine in stock and they were only one dose short. Unfortunately, Ruth lived in Milan and had no way to get back to Jackson on Monday to pick up the last dose. Lynn knew the last thing her 82-year-old patient needed was to worry about how to get her medication. She arranged to pick up the medication on Monday and hand-deliver it to Ruth’s house in Milan. Thanks to Lynn, Ruth completed her full medication treatment and was on her way to better health.

In a day and age when much of healthcare seems so fragmented, it’s difficult for sick patients to gather everything they’ve been told they need in order to get better. These challenges get greater as patients age and become sicker. Thank you, Lynn, for your compassion and your dedication to making sure that this patient had everything she needed to continue her path to recovery!

Johnny Dodd

Needles are no one’s favorite thing, especially not eight-year-old boys. Sidney needed blood drawn, but he was very afraid of needles and was fighting the lab technician every step of the way. It looked like reinforcements would be needed to physically restrain Sidney so his blood could be drawn. It was not a good situation for anyone involved.

Johnny Dodd happened to be walking by and quickly took in the scene. He started to talk with Sidney, trying to take his mind off of what was happening. Johnny asked about his favorite ball team. Sidney was not too interested in sports teams but said he liked to race cars. After a few minutes of talking about race cars, Johnny tried to make a deal with Sidney: let them take your blood and I’ll buy your favorite race car for you (toy size, of course). Sidney had to think really hard about the deal Johnny was offering, but after great hesitation, finally accepted. Sidney left that day with a promise from Johnny that a race car would be coming his way.

Instead of getting one race car, Johnny purchased three sets of four cars plus a racetrack. Surely someone as brave as Sidney deserved a little extra! A day or two later Johnny had the cars and track delivered to Sidney’s home in another city. To say Sidney was excited is an understatement – the cars made his day! Sidney’s mother, on the other hand, broke down in tears. She could not believe that someone who didn’t know them honored a promise to her little boy.

Thank you, Johnny, for taking the time to talk to a scared little boy and put him at ease. Thank you even more for honoring your promise and giving this family a little more faith in the compassion and integrity of others.

Brenda Ward

Donnie was leaving the ICU and moving to B8. The first thing he wanted to do was call his family. Unfortunately, his cell phone was dead and he didn’t have his charger.

When Brenda Ward arrived in his room, she found Donnie very frustrated. He asked if she had a charger he could use, but Brenda soon saw that her charger would not fit his phone. Donnie looked so disappointed, but Brenda assured him she would check around and see if she could find a charger that worked. She could not find one.

Brenda decided to brighten Donnie’s day. She went to a nearby store, purchased a new charger for Donnie, and delivered it to his room! Donnie could not believe that a hospital employee would do that for him. He was moved by Brenda’s kindness and offered to pay for the charger. “No,” Brenda told him, “you just get well as quickly as you can so that you can go home to your family.”

Donnie gave Brenda a big smile, plugged in his phone and said, “Thank you!” Before long, the voices of his family members were music to his ears!

Molly Britt & Tim Burruss

There had been a rollover wreck on the interstate. An older couple and their eight-year-old twin granddaughters were traveling from Pennsylvania to Arkansas when the crash occurred. Tim Burruss arrived on the scene finding the little girls shaken up, but free from serious injury. Their grandparents, however, needed a trip to the Jackson Madison County General Hospital. Tim began talking with the little girls, putting them at ease while still at the scene of the accident.

As soon as they arrived at the ER, nurse Molly Britt joined Tim. Molly and Tim quickly found out what the girls wanted for lunch and went to a hospital eatery to get them a nutritious meal. As they talked with the girls, they discovered both took gymnastics, so Molly and Tim took them to the ambulance bay where they could do cartwheels to hearts’ content. One of the girls had gotten root beer in her hair during the wreck, and Molly even washed and dried her hair.

That day, Tim and Molly put their own work aside for a family who had no relatives or friends nearby to support them. Their acts of kindness were a big relief to the girls’ grandparents who could not care for them at the time. Thanks to Molly and Tim, what could have been a scary and lonely situation turned out to be a fun adventure for the girls. Thanks, Tim and Molly, for putting this family’s needs first!

Mary Norment & Wilma Dethrow

A young woman arrived at Jackson-Madison County General Hospital in active labor. Two very young children had come with their mother. Patient Transporter Mary Norment took the patient to Labor and Delivery. The patient was very upset about having to leave her children with no one to look after them. Mary assured her that she would watch over the children and take care of their needs.

Mary got the children situated in the waiting area, then asked her supervisor for permission to stay with them until her next transport. In the meantime, Mary called co-worker Wilma Dethrow to help her watch the children between transports.

For almost two hours, Wilma and Mary rushed back to the waiting room to check on the children between every transport. Finally, a family member arrived to take the children. Wilma took the family member back to the patient’s room to get permission to let the children leave with them.

Soon the children were on their way home. Thanks to Mary and Wilma, a young mother was able to concentrate on having her baby, knowing that her other two children were in good hands, safe and sound.

Robin Scott & Brittney Mehr

What should have been a quiet, relaxing dinner at a local restaurant turned out to be anything but for Robin Scott and Brittney Mehr. Although not dining together, they arrived at the restaurant at the same time and recognized each other from working at Jackson-Madison County General Hospital. They waved, said hello, and suddenly heard a commotion – an elderly woman had fallen to the floor.

Robin and Brittney rushed over and realized the woman hit her head and was bleeding. They immediately began attending to the woman who was visibly upset and hurt while someone called an ambulance. While Robin and Brittney took care of the woman, they also did their best to comfort her shaken husband. They remained with the couple until EMS arrived.

As it happened, another hospital employee, Brent Blankenship, the CT Coordinator in Radiology at Jackson General, came in for dinner as Brittney and Robin were assisting the woman. Brent recognized them as nurses from the hospital. He asked another customer what happened and was told that after the woman fell, “those two nice ladies came running to take care of her and have not left her side, even when their tables were ready for them to eat.” Brent said that he was proud to tell everyone around that those “two nice ladies” were nurses at Jackson-Madison County General Hospital. Other bystanders shared how Robin and Brittney had the situation well under control. Their loving, caring attitudes were witnessed by many people that night.

Thank you, Brittney and Robin, for being Heroes @ Heart who readily jumped into action when the unexpected happened in an unexpected place.

Bonnie Bennett

Bonnie Bennett had taken a week off from work to go to Nashville to be with her daughter-in-law who was getting chemotherapy and a stem cell transplant at Vanderbilt. When Bonnie got to Nashville, she stopped at a store to stock up on some items for her daughter-in-law since she would be there for a while. Bonnie was already running behind schedule. She intended to be at Vanderbilt by noon but left home an hour later than expected. When she was ready to leave the store, Bonnie realized she forgot the ice and went back in, making her even later. Looking back, Bonnie realized this last delay was a significant one. She does not believe in coincidences, but that God puts us in the place where we need to be at the time we need to be there. When Bonnie returned to her car with the ice, she turned around and noticed several people standing by the cart return, looking at a person lying on the ground. Bonnie rushed over to see what had happened and was told the man “just fell: A young man had turned the gentleman over and found his face was blue; it was obvious he was not breathing. Bonnie told the bystanders that she was a nurse and felt for a pulse, but was unable to find one.

As Bonnie started chest compressions, she asked the woman who was with the man about his medical history. His name was Gene and he had his heart checked recently because he was having trouble breathing. The tests had not shown anything to be concerned about at that time. As Gene got out of the car that day, he complained of being dizzy, then passed out. As Bonnie continued CPR, the man began to breathe and had a pulse. Bonnie stopped CPR and began patting him and calling his name. Within a few minutes, he opened his eyes, looking dazed and confused and wondering why this stranger was looking over him and calling his name. By the time the ambulance arrived, Gene was completely coherent, talking, and trying to get up.

Little did Bonnie know when she left home that morning later than intended, that God had a plan for her that day – to be someone’s hero. As Bonnie started CPR on Gene, she thought he was probably not going to survive – but God had another plan for Gene as well. Thank you, Bonnie – we are so proud of you!

Jamie Miller

Jamie Miller and two other men were at a local restaurant eating lunch when one of them noticed a lady about five tables away hitting another lady on the back. It was obvious the woman was choking. Jamie sprang into action and ran over to the table.

The woman’s lips were already blue and she was gasping for air. Jamie immediately tried to perform the Heimlich maneuver while the woman remained seated. He soon realized it was not going to work because of the very close space. The woman was seated in front of a window and a large cart was in the way.

Knowing he had to act fast. Jamie lifted the lady out of her chair and onto her feet. Jamie quickly discovered that not only was space tight, but the woman was very large and wearing a back brace! He quickly removed the back brace and performed the Heimlich two more times. This time, Jamie’s attempts were successful and the woman began breathing again! The woman’s daughter was with her and decided to take her mother to the ER at Jackson Madison County General Hospital to make sure all was well.

Later that afternoon, Jamie also went by the ER to check on the lady and was relieved to find out she was fine. The woman and her daughter were so grateful and thanked Jamie over and over for his heroic actions. We also thank Jamie for being a Hero @ Heart and are so proud to have him on our team.

Suzanne Cole & Dr. Fielding Randolph

Dr. Fielding Randolph was enjoying a Sunday afternoon off with family and friends at a local eatery. As he was eating his lunch, someone who recognized him approached his table and told him a customer needed his help.

Dr. Randolph quickly went over to a man lying unresponsive on the floor. He began assessing the man the best he could with limited resources. Dr. Randolph requested someone to call 911 and asked if there was an Automated External Defibrillator (AED) in the building. An AED was not in the restaurant but one of the customers sprinted over to the LIFT Center and returned with an AED.

After hearing a man had collapsed, Suzanne Cole, who was working at the LIFT, rushed over to the eatery to help. Marty Clements with the Madison County Emergency Management Agency happened to be visiting the LIFT and he also ran over to see what he could do. They arrived as Dr. Randolph was initiating CPR and began assisting. During CPR, the man’s pulse soon returned. EMS arrived and the patient was transported to Jackson-madison County General Hospital. When Dr. Randolph returned to work on Monday, one of his assigned patients was actually the man he had helped the day before!

We are so proud to recognize Dr. Randolph and Suzanne for their kindness and willingness to go above and beyond their job duties and work to be a hero for someone in need.