The Outer Banks Hospital was notified of a small plane crash at a local airstrip. Sadly, the young pilot was pronounced at the crash site. Lisa McGaha, Director of Inpatient Services, was called to provide support to the ED, which was handling simultaneous trauma situations. Without prompting, Lisa assessed the inpatient departments and came to the ED with an additional RN and CP to be able to provide for a broad range of immediate needs.
The parents of the 35-year old pilot came to the ED unaware their son had died due to his injuries. As Lisa entered the ED Family Room to meet with the parents, the mom received a phone call from the site telling her that her son was dead. Lisa was able to console both mom and dad by compassionately explaining the steps of how the hospital would receive and take care of their son. The grieving parents requested to see their son's body. Lisa was aware that because of the crash, seeing their son would not be advisable. However, she understood the importance of them saying goodbye to his body. Lisa knew that the pilot had a tattoo on his arm along with his watch and glove. She made it possible to bring the parents in to hold his hand one last time; to love his physical form one last time.
Lisa stayed with the parents through their grief. At one point, she held a straw up to mom's mouth to encourage her to drink. She did so without thinking and looked at Lisa and said, “How did you know I needed a Coke?”
The evening of the crash, Lisa took time to reach out to our local EMS Chief to check on the two first responders and to share accolades of the EMS personnel in their ability to handle a community resident that is well known to many. The Chief told her that they were also worried about her.
Lisa's compassion and support for the grief-stricken parents were immensely heartfelt. Lisa has a gift that enables her to handle difficult situations like this in a way that makes the grief bearable; if even for a moment. Her thoughtful actions ensured that the parents were able to touch their son and grieve his loss in a way that would offer them closure and peace in the days ahead.