CCU medical team fought alongside critically ill patient Lori Browne
When Lori Browne entered the Emergency Department of the Brantford General Hospital on March 2 - her 59th birthday - she had no idea she was in for the fight of her life.
Lucky for her, Brantford General medical professionals were there to fight right along with her.
“There were several people that were all instrumental in bringing her back to us,” Lori’s sister Cindi Browne, who has worked at the Brantford General for over 30 years, said of hospital staff. “They were amazing.”
Lori is one of four very close-knit sisters who are practically tied at the hip. So when her sisters called to deliver birthday wishes to Lori on that fateful day, it didn’t take them long to figure out something was seriously wrong.
“I called to wish her a happy birthday and she was talking really wonky,” Cindi recalled. “So then I called my sister Dori (Atto) and I said ‘Lori’s not well.’”
When Dori phoned she could tell that Lori was struggling to breathe.
“I said ‘get ready we’re going to come and get you because this isn’t normal,’” Dori said.
Lori’s symptoms appeared much worse while she was being triaged at the Emergency Department.
“She couldn’t function properly and she couldn’t even get her jacket off,” Dori said. “They took her right from triage into Zone 1. They checked her over and then suddenly things started moving even quicker. I was getting really kind of scared.”
As nurses and physicians did a thorough assessment of Lori, Dori called her sisters Cindi and Jeri Widerick to tell them Lori’s condition was serious. The care Lori was receiving gave the sisters a much greater sense of ease.
“They were really nurturing,” Dori said of the nurses. “She was really right out of it and at one point I thought she was coding. It was terrible.
“They pushed me out of the room and when I came back - I don’t even know what they did for her - she was spry again.”
Unfortunately that was just the beginning of a nine-week ordeal that saw Lori slipping to the brink of death and back again. She was placed in the Critical Care Unit (CCU) where she spent close to two months under the care of Dr. Damien Medina along with other Intensivists and a dedicated team of nurses and healthcare professionals.
“Dr. Medina was awesome,” Dori said. “He took every single question we could think of to ask and answered it for us.”
A thorough medical investigation was conducted, including X-rays and an EKG, with an exhaustive laboratory analysis finally concluding that Lori had contracted a severe infection resulting in double pneumonia. This had eventually caused her to become septic.
“The whole time she had high anxiety,” Cindi said. “But the staff were just incredible. They brought us up (to CCU) and explained everything; they always kept us in the loop with what was going on.”
“They also talked to Lori and made sure that she was comfortable,” Dori added.
Lori’s sisters were always at her side, often taking turns to ensure Lori had sisterly support at all times.
“They kept me going,” Lori said. “Not only are they my sisters, they’re my best friends. They kept me putting one foot in front of the other and fighting hard.”
Lori was put on an intensive personalized medication regimen, but the roller coaster ride wasn’t over yet. She had an adverse reaction to several medications, developed a cardiac condition, her kidneys started shutting down and she had a tracheostomy placed in her neck for prolonged respiratory support. Eventually she was put into an induced coma to recover.
“You name it, and it happened to her,” Jeri said. “For a couple of weeks whatever could go wrong went wrong.”
“We didn’t know from day-to-day what we were going to come into,” Cindi said. “At that point it was touch and go.”
Through it all the sisters knew Lori was in good hands of the many medical experts that made up her team.
“They dealt with it so calmly and they kept us calm,” Cindi said.
Then one day they hit a turning point and the sisters knew Lori was going to be fine.
Lori had to learn to walk and talk again and did so with the help of the rehabilitation team.
From the housekeeping and nutrition staff, to the physicians, nurses and PSWs, “everything was positive, positive, positive. Nothing was too small and nothing was too big for them to handle,” Lori said of the care she received during her long hospital stay.
“I do want to give kudos to the doctors too,” Cindi said. “We had a lot of questions and they really did listen to us. I cannot say enough about the care Lori received. She was treated like a person with a family.”
“Because of them and my sisters there was nowhere to go but up,” she said. “They saved me and you can’t put a price on that.”
Cindi admits there are times when “the hospital sometimes gets a bad rap, but I’ve never been so impressed; the care is excellent.
“The staff is doing the best they can and people in our community need to know that they really, really do care.”
As the Browne family knows first-hand, when a health crisis or emergency affects you or a loved one, Brant Community Healthcare System is here to provide exceptional, professional and compassionate care in your time of need.
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From left: PT Charlie Landoni, RT Seema Forouzandeh, RN Elysia Skrzypek, RN Charlotte Marshall, ESA Shelley Mulligan, ENT Surgeon Dr. Allen Lam, Clinical Managerof the Critical Care Unit and Respiratory Therapy – Barb Longo, Jeri Widerick, grateful patient Lori Browne and Intensivist Dr. Damien Medina.