Keri had three patients, two of whom were critical. The first patient had diseased lungs and required oxygen and a machine to breath. His lungs were not going to get any better and now his heart was beginning to fail. He and his family had to make a decision on whether or not to aggressively continue treatment to prolong his life or to let him pass naturally.
The patient in the next room was also very ill. Her physician didn’t have the specialized skills to adequately manage her needs. She was fairly young, but could not speak for herself. Her family had to decide for her whether to transfer her to a bigger hospital with specialists who may or may not be able to help her or to let her succumb to her illness.
The first patient, who was totally cognizant, along with his family chose to remove the breathing machine and oxygen and to die with dignity with his family at his bedside. At the same time, the family of the second patient chose to transfer their loved one to another hospital who had the specialist that might help her.
I watched Keri handle both situations with grace and professionalism. On one end she was supporting a patient and family who were saying their final goodbyes and preparing medications to ease the discomfort of the patient’s passing. Simultaneously she was arranging the transfer of another patient and supporting the families’ hope for a future cure.
In the midst of it all, Keri took the time to order a slice of cake from the kitchen to give a housekeeper who was celebrating his birthday.
As I watched these events unfold, a well-known scripture passage kept popping into my head, Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 “There is a time for everything and a season for every activity under the heavens...”
By the end of the day, the first patient passed peacefully with his family at his bedside, the second patient was transferred by ambulance to a higher level of care and her third patient, who was not quite so ill, was transferred to the Med/Surg Unit.
All in a day’s work, right? Not quite. Shortly thereafter I wheeled in her next patient who was just arriving from the Emergency Room. Keri greeted the new patient like he was the only patient she had cared for all day.