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Thursday, December 01, 2016 - Roper St. Francis teammates honored as Health Care Heroes

Twelve Roper St. Francis teammates were recognized on Wednesday night for their passion for healthcare and their compassion for their patients at the Charleston Regional Business Journal’s Health Care Heroes celebration.

Teammates were nominated by their peers and their managers in nine different categories. An excerpt of each honoree’s nomination was read aloud, and each honoree was called to the stage and asked to speak briefly in front of hundreds at the downtown Francis Marion Hotel.

“I was touched by the stories of Roper St. Francis teammates going above and beyond to comfort patients, to provide extraordinary treatment and – in several cases – to save lives,” said Lorraine Lutton, president and CEO of Roper St. Francis. “So many of us see our careers in healthcare as a calling – a commitment to help others. Our 12 Health Care Hero honorees not only make us proud, but they serve as tremendous examples of exactly what it means to carry out our mission of ‘healing with compassion, faith and excellence.’”

The following are Roper St. Francis’ honorees and winners, as well as excerpts of their nominations:

Dave Dixon, community outreach, honoree (nominated by Mary Lamb)

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“One of the biggest ways he’s given back to the community has been by assisting the Lowcountry Home of Hope in Summerville.  The Lowcountry Home of Hope supports homeless adults by providing a safe shelter, food, support services and avenue to self sufficiency.

Dave joined the non-profit organization’s board in January of this year, and he has worked tirelessly to secure donations to cover six months of rent for the home.

The shelter has a capacity for 16 homeless men and operates entirely from private donations. Dave has collected clothes, toiletries, and food.  After he leaves Bon Secours St. Francis Hospital, Dave is the home’s handyman and has fixed the toilets and put up blinds.

Dave does more than fix the facilities. He helped one of the homeless men earn his GED. He helped another get a tooth extracted from his dentist. He helped another obtain eye glasses. Another man had been in jail for 25 years, and Dave worked for six months to help him obtain a birth certificate. He even contacted a bakery to donate birthday cakes to these men who cannot remember when they last had a birthday cake.”

Nancy Gilman, community outreach, winner (nominated by Sherry Bond)

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“When the 2007 Sofa Super Store fire killed nine firefighters and injured others, it touched Nancy Gilman.

She was working that night at the Roper Hospital Emergency Room, which treated some of those who had been hurt.

The tragedy moved Nancy, and she wanted to do something more to help. She started visiting fire departments in the community.

For the last nine years, she’s spent roughly 20 hours each week at the Charleston Fire Department. She takes firefighters meals, helps with their educational needs and provides support for their demanding jobs.

During the last three years, she’s also started spending time at the Mount Pleasant Fire Department and the St. John’s Fire Department. She’s built strong relationships and has become a mother figure to many of the men and women working in those fire stations.”

John Dorkewitz and Brent Matthews, first responder, winner (nominated by Dr. Steve Shapiro)

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“Paramedics John and Brent were on duty in a boat when they received a call that a sailor on the race course was unconscious.

Brent and John immediately responded and headed toward the man. When they identified the boat, they tied up to it and both proceeded to jump on the vessel while carrying their equipment, which is not an easy task.

The man didn’t have a pulse and wasn’t breathing. John and Brent used an AED, or automated external defibrillator to shock him, and his heart started beating again.

They started an IV line, which, again, is not an easy task on a moving boat. By the time they transferred the patient to another boat so he could be transported to the hospital, the man was conscious and talking. He was pronounced stable at the hospital not long afterward.

John and Brent did everything right, and they did it in the midst of difficult circumstances – on moving boats in open water. This entire process is far different than how they would handle coming on to a scene with an ambulance.

They provided extraordinary care that undoubtedly saved the man’s life.”

Tonya Johnson, first responder, honoree (nominated by Naomi Buytas who accepted the award on Tonya’s behalf)

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“We recently transported a patient from Bon Secours St. Francis Hospital to Roper Hospital. The patient was very nervous about the night ahead and her procedure the next day.

The patient was wearing a valuable bracelet that she wanted to remove, so her daughter and I tried to do so. Tonya drove us to Roper Hospital while I rode in the back with the patient on the stretcher. Once we arrived, the patient still was nervous about her situation and expressed her appreciation for our trying to explain what would possibly be happening over the next 24 hours.

As we were about to leave the patient in the care of Roper Hospital, Tonya removed the prayer beads she was wearing as a necklace and gave them to the patient.

Tonya placed them on the patient’s wrist like a bracelet. The gesture immediately comforted the patient, and her gratitude was apparent in the hugs she offered.

Although she wasn’t required to do so, Tonya checked on the patient the next day and continued to let her know that she was on her mind.”

Anna Dean, health care professional, winner (nominated by Lindsey Morgan)

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“To Anna, being an athletic trainer is more than a job. Simply put, it’s her life, and she wouldn’t have it any other way.

She spends some of her week in a traditional doctor’s office setting, but her favorite place is to be is Stall High School in North Charleston. She serves as the athletic trainer for all sports and is present for every practice and game. Earlier this year, Anna had finished working a soccer game and was on her way to cover a home baseball game when she noticed some middle school-aged kids playing in a giant tractor tire at the top of a hill. The football team used those tires for practice, and the kids were goofing off, rolling one another around in the tire and racing.

As she got closer, she realized a child was trapped in one of the tires that was rolling down the hill toward a retention pond.

Anna slammed on her brakes and jumped out of her car. She screamed to the boy and told him to get out but he couldn’t hear her.

The tire landed in the water and started sinking. The boy couldn’t get out of the tire.

Anna immediately jumped in the water and swam toward the child. She knocked the tire over and pulled him out.

The boy was safe and alive.

Without fanfare, Anna went back to her office, found some dry clothes and headed back out to the baseball field to finish her duties.”

Eugene Samuel Jr. and Heather Horne, health care professional, honoree (nominated by Robert Medley)

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“Eugene Samuel Sr., a contract employee with linen services, and Heather Horne, a registered nurse from 5E, both fought and extinguished a fire in the laundry room.

The fire alarm sounded at 12:30 a.m. and indicated a fire in the laundry room.

Heather was in the cafeteria and rushed to the scene. Once there, she fought the fire with an extinguisher and Eugene helped her.

He pulled the emergency shutdown breaker for the washing machine while they both worked to extinguish the open flame next to the washing machine.

Heather then provided emergent care to Eugene, who had been overcome by the flame retardant and was in respiratory distress.

These two employees definitely prevented an active flame from spreading and then supported each other until further assistance could arrive.”

Deborah Krajick, researcher, honoree (nominated by Paula Smith)

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“During the past 12 years, Deborah (Debby) Krajick has been at the heart of the Oncology Clinical Research Program as its research nurse providing stellar care for her patients as well as being the name, face and knowledge-base of oncology clinical trials at RSF.

Several months ago, one of Debby’s clinical trial patients rapidly started to decline. The patient arrived at the cancer center for a day filled with appointments, tests and scans, one after the other. It was evident how sick and fatigued the patient was. Debby quietly disappeared and returned with a wheelchair. She loaded her patient into the chair and off they went. She spent the day ensuring her patient completed her appointments and tests and was fed and hydrated.

As they passed by my office, Debby stopped in to introduce her patient to me. The smile on her face and the warmth in her voice when she spoke of how much she appreciated Debby was priceless. As Debby’s manager and as a former research nurse, my heart was filled with a sense of pride and appreciation to have such a valuable member on our team. Her patient was aware of and felt that she was THE most important priority for Debby for that day. As a nurse, there is no greater gift that you may give to your patient and Debby did exactly that. THIS is what I feel a hero looks like. THIS is what I envision when the word hero comes to mind.”

Linda Schutte, nurse, honoree (nominated by Melissa Postell)

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“The caring and compassion Linda displays at work is evident in her personal life. She has volunteered on mission trips to Africa, Honduras and most recently to Nicaragua, which was her fifth trip as part of the Operation Walk Nicaragua healthcare team. The team provides hip and knee replacement surgeries at no cost to patients who otherwise couldn’t afford them.

She brings back fascinating stories about the obstacles they have to overcome to perform surgery and rehabilitate the patients. She also shares stories about patients’ lives, including their struggles and their limited resources.

When we hear her stories, we can’t help but to feel fortunate about where we work and where we live, not to mention to feel compassion for those less fortunate who live in areas with much less advanced healthcare systems.”

Dr. Scott Ross, physician, honoree (nominated by Kelly Stacy)

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“It wasn’t until Dr. Scott Ross was in the operating room staring at the patient’s heart that he realized he had a problem.

His patient would die if he couldn’t find a solution.

The patient needed a new heart valve, which Dr. Ross was in surgery to replace. But when he removed the aortic valve, he discovered the area around it was so damaged that he couldn’t proceed with his replacement plan.

If the patient were to survive, Dr. Ross realized his only option was to do a transcatheter aortic valve replacement as soon as possible. TAVR is a relatively new, complicated procedure in which a bio-prosthetic valve is inserted into the aortic valve and opened. TAVR is a multi-specialty technique and requires a team of nearly two dozen hospital staff, including a cardiothoracic surgeon and cardiologists.

The TAVR team began to assemble. Cardiologists were pulled from clinics, a phone call to a physician in South Africa was made, and a representative for the TAVR company was put on videoconference to provide guidance.

Dr. Ross remained calm and deftly oversaw the surgery. The result was a successful surgery and a grateful patient who went home to his family.”

Molly (owner Jim Merryman), service/therapy animal, honoree (nominated by Laurie Glass)

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“Molly started at Roper St. Francis Mount Pleasant Hospital during its grand opening in 2010 and has been here ever since. She was one of just two service animals at that time.

One day, while visiting patients at RSF Mount Pleasant Hospital, our chief executive officer asked Jim to bring Molly to see him. From there, he took Jim and Molly to the Intensive Care Unit to visit a patient. The older woman was not awake and looked very pale and sick.

In a room filled with medical staff, Molly did the unthinkable and jumped up in the bed and began to lick the woman’s face. The woman woke up and began laughing, while those who looked on were so touched they cried.

Molly isn’t allowed on the furniture at home and had never jumped in a patient’s bed before.  When she did it, Jim was shocked but also pleased that she helped the patient.”

Kevin Hughes, Trident Construction healthcare engineer, winner (nominated by Chris Louis)

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“Kevin also discovered that one of our eye wash stations was not compliant with the Joint Commission requirements. He decided to survey all the eye wash stations in the hospital and identify which ones needed to be replaced.  He handled the entire project, going so far as to order all the necessary parts and replace them over the course of a couple of months. His proactive approach ensured our teammates will have properly functioning eye wash stations in the event of an emergency.

Our downtown Roper Hospital frequently has steam and sewer leaks under the building. Kevin is the lead technician to crawl under the building and identify where the leak is coming from and isolate the leak to be repaired by either our technicians or outside contractors. This is extremely dirty work in a confined space, and Kevin approaches the task with a great attitude and willingness to get the job done.”

Chris Mackey, Trident Construction healthcare engineer, honoree (nominated by Herbie West)

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“Since RSF Mount Pleasant Hospital opened in 2010, Chris has been the mastermind behind building a support model that has provided professional support for the hospital. For this work, he has been recognized as “Engineer of the Year.”

One of his most significant achievements has been his engagement in the HARBOR project, which is Roper St. Francis’ transition to a new Electronic Health Record. Biomed needed a solid support interface with the IT team because in the future, biomed will be increasing its presence in the HER world through multiple and different hardware mechanisms.

This project involved the software build, strategic physical layout of the hardware and overall builds of tech competence to support the hardware and infrastructure. Chris wore many hats and covered a huge workload but never complained or fell behind on his duties.  It must be noted that this was not just for RSF Mount Pleasant Hospital but for all sites within the Roper St. Francis healthcare system. It required Chris to reach out to other biomed team members and teach them about the set up and support, as well as educate the IT team in how all the equipment build and interface would best work for the clinical staff.”

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