Teamwork at Small, Rural Clinic Saves Man's Life

July 15, 2016
It had been years since Larry Leonard, 73, stepped into a doctor’s office. But on June 13, a visit to Mercy Clinic Family Medicine –Linn County saved his life.

The clinic receptionist, Renee Clemens, notified the nurse right away of a patient who was short of breath and very pale.

“Just from his appearance, it was obvious that Larry needed immediate attention,” said Lyndsey Seested, RN.

He was quickly helped to an exam room and within one minute, Larry’s heart stopped and his body sank onto the exam table.

Lyndsey dove into action. She knew just what to do from her years of experience as a nurse in the emergency department.

Lyndsey gave instructions to her co-workers as she began CPR. Once Kristyn Milburn, APRN, arrived with the crash cart (a mobile cart full of supplies designed specifically for heart attacks), the automatic electronic defibrillator (AED) was attached to Larry chest and a shock was delivered to start his heart. Lyndsey and Kristyn went back to performing CPR. Soon after, Larry gasped for air and opened his eyes.

“After five rounds of CPR, a shock and two more cycles of CPR, Larry came back to us. He looked down at his torn shirt and said ‘you ruined my t-shirt!’” Lyndsey explained.

Lyndsey went on to explain to Larry how well the entire team had come together to save his life.

Shortly after, an ambulance arrived to transport Larry from the clinic to a hospital, where he received two stents in blocked veins.

Larry had blockage of two major vessels in his heart: one at 98 percent, the other at 100 percent.

According to a 2015 report by the Sudden Cardiac Arrest Foundation, one in three people who have a by-stander witnessed heart attacked survive the event. Ten percent of patients who are hospitalized following a heart attack live to be discharged and only 8.3 percent survive without a major neurological deficit.

“I’m lucky to be alive,” Larry said. “The cardiologist told me that the blockage was so bad that I only had about two minutes to live.

I never had any chest pain, I just didn’t feel well. My son was the one who encouraged me to go the doctor.”

Every second was important to saving Larry’s life. Timely access to medical care in remote areas is on the decline as many small, rural hospitals and clinics struggle to stay open. Access to well-trained health care professionals is a constant struggle to balance the need versus financial viability.

“If I would’ve had to go somewhere else, I wouldn’t have made it,” Larry added.

Lyndsey explained, “In a community our size, our daily work is centered on neighbors helping neighbors. We know most of our patients on a first-name basis outside of work and care for them like family. I look back at the day Larry’s life was saved and I see how the whole process was a textbook example. Everything that happened went according to a well-executed emergency plan. Everything happened perfectly right that day”

Perhaps the emergency plan wasn’t all that guided the life-saving work performed that evening. Earlier that morning, during a routine daily check, Lyndsey found on the crash cart a Bible that no one had seen before. She left it…and it remains there today.

“We are blessed to have the level of expertise of the co-workers in this clinic, and the teamwork displayed in saving Larry’s life is just one example of the outstanding care our patients receive,” said Jody Hoener, clinic manager.

 

Teamwork and experience saved their patient's life. Co-workers are Lyndsey Seested, RN; Renee Clemens, receptionist; Leslie Langford, radiology technician; Kristyn Milburn, APRN; and Kenzie Gallaher, Medical Assistant I.

Teamwork and experience saved their patient's life. Co-workers are Lyndsey Seested, RN; Renee Clemens, receptionist; Leslie Langford, radiology technician; Kristyn Milburn, APRN; and Kenzie Gallaher, Medical Assistant I.

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