When Patricia Bradshaw first met Janice George, she knew that she had just made a friend, someone she today calls ‘my little angel’.
She met Janice George, RN, Unit Manager, on the day that she was admitted to Allied Services’ Skilled Nursing & Rehab Center in Scranton. Patricia, 54, from East Stroudsburg, had just been through the worst six weeks of her life and was only beginning to grasp the long road to recovery ahead of her.
“Janice came into my room and I felt I had a friend immediately. I felt warmth, caring, more than just being a nurse. I knew I’d been sent to the right place because of this person who had just walked in my room.”
In late November, 2013, Patricia had emergency hernia surgery to repair a portion of her small intestine. Following the surgery, Patricia’s body swelled up so that she became unrecognizable, even to her family. A CAT scan was ordered to determine the cause of the swelling, but during the scan, she asphyxiated and went into a coma.
Patricia underwent a second surgery to remove another portion of her small intestine, which had died and was poisoning her body. However, due to the swelling, the surgeon was unable to close the incision. Patricia remained in a coma until the end of December.
On January 4th, Patricia was transferred to the respiratory unit at Allied Services’ Skilled Nursing & Rehab Center. The 21-bed unit is the region’s only skilled nursing facility with a dedicated respiratory unit, earning national recognition for quality respiratory care.
Patricia was initially referred to Allied for the level of respiratory care available. She had been on a ventilator temporarily and still had a tracheostomy. However, it soon became clear that she had more complex physical challenges to overcome.
When she arrived at Allied, Patricia weighed just 82lb. She had a large, open wound in her abdomen that required daily attention and caused her unbearable pain. However, of greatest concern to Janice and Wound Care Nurse, Susan Steinbach, were the second degree burns that Patricia had received and was continuing to receive from the 2 stomas resulting from her surgery. Her very small frame meant that the stoma pouches would not attach, causing the hot, acidic stomach fluids to burn Patricia’s skin.
Through trial and error, perseverance, and many hours spent researching solutions in their own time, Janice and Susan found materials that would help the stoma pouches to attach to Patricia’s body. “They did what no one else had been able to do for me. They really were my angels.”
Over the course of the next nine months, Patricia underwent 2 more surgeries and a series of challenges in her recovery. Every step of the way, the interdisciplinary team at Allied were there for her, supporting and guiding her through the ups and downs.
“At times, I felt that I would never be able to walk from one end of the corridor to the other. I credit the staff at Allied for keeping me strong.”
With the help of the nutritionist Stephanie Falvo, Patricia began gaining weight and building strength. Through rigorous physical and occupational therapy, she regained the ability to walk and climb stairs, sharing a birthday picnic with her family outside.
In September, Patricia was deemed strong enough for resection surgery, surprising her surgeon with the speed and extent of her recovery. The grueling 5 ½ hour surgery was a success, but following surgery she developed pneumonia. Her left lung collapsed and she spent 2 weeks in intensive care.
Returning to Allied in mid-October, she once again worked to regain her strength and balance. In the course of the resection, Patricia had an abdominal wall rebuild. Despite ongoing high levels of pain from her surgery, she began physical therapy again. In only a few days, she was walking with just the support of her physical therapist, Rachel Napkori.
On November 4, 2014, almost a year from the day she fell ill, Patricia returned home in time for her favorite holiday season. She experiences ongoing pain from her final surgery, but feels grateful to be home with her husband, Chris.
“There were times when the doctors thought I wouldn’t survive. There were days that I thought I’d never walk again. But it was a blessing that I came to Allied. It wasn’t just the professionalism and expertise of the staff that struck me. It was the personal touch, the caring, the endless patience.”