Kirsty Heath

Kirsty Heath

Kirsty Heath, RN, BSN, CEN, CPEN

Pediatric Emergency Department
Jupiter Medical Center
Jupiter, Florida
United States
I learned that not only was Kirsty waiting for my son's arrival, but she had also waited to take her lunch so that she wouldn't miss him.

When your child is sick, you will go to the moon and back to find a solution. It is rare that you find a nurse willing to do the same thing.
Typically, when our three-year-old son gets sick, he will drastically improve after one to two days of antibiotics. This time things were different and, as a mother, I was starting to get concerned. After five days of high fevers and one round of antibiotics, I took our son to the emergency room hopeful we would find an answer. Kirsty and the ER physician, Dr. R, worked together to figure out what was causing his high fevers and bloodshot eyes. However, hours later, they were not able to figure out what was going on and sent us home to follow up with our pediatrician.

As an employee at Jupiter Medical Center, I am often in and out of the ER throughout the day. The next day, I was passing through the ER when Kirsty and Dr. R flagged me down. They asked how my son was doing and I told them that his symptoms had not improved; in fact, he had begun to show new symptoms including chapped lips. Kirsty paled slightly and said that she had been thinking about our son all night. In fact, she had rushed to work the next morning to utilize the nursing reference center and now believed that our son had a rare disease called Kawasaki Disease. Despite not expecting to see me that morning, Kirsty had information regarding the disease on her computer and Dr. R agreed with her, telling me to bring my son back right away.

When I brought him back, I learned that not only was Kirsty waiting for my son's arrival, but she had also waited to take her lunch so that she wouldn't miss him. Kirsty was so excited to see our son and her enthusiasm made him feel comfortable as she began to get things started.

A rare and often misdiagnosed disease, Kawasaki Disease is an inflammation of the blood vessels often causing bloodshot eyes, high fever lasting more than 5 days, rash and peeling skin. With fewer than 5,000 cases in the US each year and no test for Kawasaki, patients like our son, that do not exhibit all of these symptoms, are often sent home repeatedly before a diagnosis is confirmed. Unfortunately, if treatment is not started quickly, an array of heart complications can occur leading to aneurism, Heart Disease or even heart attack. The fast action of Kirsty, along with Dr. R, brought the pediatric hospitalist, Dr. V, and Pediatric Cardiologist, Dr. D, onto the team to begin treatment by day six. Kirsty was by our side and not only made sure our son was at ease but also related to us as parents and helped us feel comfortable with what was happening when the decision was made to admit our son for further treatment.

Kirsty's dedication to the well-being of her patient and tenacity to discover a diagnosis directly presented life-changing consequences for our son and, in the long run, saved his life. We can never thank Kirsty enough for her role in uncovering a disease that could have taken our three-year-old son. She should stand as a shining role model and example to other nurses of the lasting impact that one person can have in the lives of not only a patient but their family.