On Thursday, I received a phone call from the Emergency Room at First Health Moore Regional Hospital. I do not recall the nurse’s name, but she had called me to verify my mother’s identity. Regardless, the nurse was extremely professional and caring. I wish I would have been in the frame of mind to write down her name, but I was a bit distracted. I live in Ohio and had flown my mother to North Carolina, so she could attend the annual family reunion that has been occurring on Mother’s Day for decades. The ER nurse was direct, honest, and very informative. She explained that Mom had arrested and did not receive CPR for more than 11 minutes while awaiting EMS to arrive. I was also informed that my mother was shocked in the field and was pulseless for as long as 21 minutes. Not what a son wants to hear, but these were the facts, and I greatly appreciate the honesty this nurse possessed when she gave the news.
Once I arrived at Pinehurst, after an 8-hour drive, I was able to see my mother, and she was as described by the ER nurse. My wife and I stayed in CCU for a brief period then proceeded to the hotel, knowing that we had a very difficult day ahead. Upon our return to CCU on Friday morning, Erin was caring for my mother. It is the care provided by Erin that drove me to write this letter. I could not have asked for a better nurse to care for my mother in her final hours. Erin was simply amazing! She was incredibly thoughtful and made sure that my wife and I had all of the latest information continuously. She had her work cut out for her, as I spent 9 years in a Level 1 Trauma Center as an RN, and now manage an Emergency and Trauma Center, and my wife is a Heart and Vascular ICU nurse who routinely cares for patients in these situations. It’s not that we had any intentions of being overbearing, but we are nurses and had lots of questions. Erin didn’t flinch, she was on it! She answered every question without hesitation and with compassion every single time. We have all had those patients whose family is in the medical field, taking notes, and asking ridiculous questions. We didn’t want to be “that family”. Erin was not only extremely knowledgeable, but compassionate, and understanding.
My wife and I are the only two health care workers in my family, so it was up to us to keep the 20ish immediate family members in the waiting room informed, but also to explain the horrible misfortune that we were facing. Once again Erin handled our family members like a champ. She was polite, very pleasant, and demonstrated her professional mindset of patient satisfaction, and was clearly aware that treatment of a patient includes caring for the family to an extent.
On Saturday morning the neurologist confirmed our biggest fears. My mother had no neurological response, and there was no chance for survival. I was my mother’s healthcare power of attorney, and it was time to explain to my two brothers that there was no chance of survival. I suggested we allow each and every family member one last chance to say goodbye, in private, and once everyone had their opportunity to say goodbye, we would initiate withdrawal of life support. This process took nearly two hours, and once again Erin was incredible. My wife and I cannot express how indebted we are for making the last hours with Mom the best they could possibly be under the circumstances.
We will never forget the compassionate care Erin provided for Mom and the way she handled our family. We couldn’t have been more pleased had we special ordered a nurse tailor-made to take care of Mom. She is a poster child for respect, integrity, courage, compassion, and excellence.