Lisa Boyle has worked as a physical therapist assistant at Saint Luke’s since 2013. She spends every day helping patients’ bodies heal. But one day at work, she herself needed help after fainting out of the blue.
On January 15, 2020, Lisa was working with a patient on the fifth floor of Saint Luke’s East Hospital when she suddenly felt dizzy and nauseous. She ended the session early and ran down to the hospital’s physical and occupational therapy gym, where she was due next to co-treat another patient with occupational therapist Sarah Thompson.
“I sat down and I was like, ‘I do not feel well. Can you please go get a blood pressure cuff? I think my blood pressure is low. Something is not right,’” Lisa said.
Sarah ran to get a cuff. By the time she returned, Lisa was barely conscious. She called for help and the hospital ran a rapid response call – an announcement over the intercom that notifies the staff to intervene immediately when a patient’s condition quickly changes. Nurses from the Medical Surgical team rushed to the therapy gym to assess her.
“We thought she was having a seizure initially,” said Wendy Nyhus, BSN, RN, who was one of the nurses that came to her aid. “She was in her chair, unresponsive, and we quickly started doing what we would normally do with any patient. There was no need to do CPR or anything like that, she just wasn’t able to really talk. She had a strong pulse, she had a blood pressure, but she just wasn’t right.”
The team moved her from the chair to a recliner to lay her out flat and transitioned her over to a cart. Then, they transported her to the Emergency Department.
“I was kind of in and out,” Lisa said. “I remember certain people who were there. I don’t remember a lot of it because it was so fuzzy, but then I woke up in the Emergency Room. It was a terrifying experience, never happened to me before.”
Lisa had had a syncopal episode – a temporary loss of consciousness due to insufficient blood flow to the brain. She was discharged a few hours later and went home. The next day, however, she had another episode and was taken back to the hospital by ambulance. This time, she was admitted and stayed for four days. Doctors ultimately discovered her loss of consciousness was due to a sleep medication she had been taking.
“I had been taking it for a year, and the doctor said sometimes our bodies just decide they can’t tolerate it anymore,” Lisa said. “After I quit that medication, I didn’t have any more episodes.”
The Medical Surgical team that cared for Lisa is a group of specially-trained nurses who care for adults with a variety of conditions. Nurse Manager Tylaine Solomon, MSN, RN describes them as a jack of all trades. They care for the patient from beginning to end to help the team reach their goal of getting back home.
“The thing that makes the Med Surg team stand out above the rest, I believe, is their compassion.” Tylaine said. “We can teach people how to document on our system, we can teach people how to take vital signs, give medications, but we can’t teach them how to be nice. That has to come from within.”
Tylaine says she overwhelmingly receives compliments about the compassion and kindness the nurses show patients and families.
“I am honored to work with an outstanding team of nursing staff and physicians,” Lisa said. “Seeing it from the patient side of things, my appreciation has grown. I didn’t think my appreciation for my fellow coworkers could grow any more, but after that day, I was wrong.”
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