Lifesaving Diagnosis 

Jul 31
2009

Perceptive physician’s assistant diagnosis boy with bacterial Meningitis, saves life

When Teresa Harris brought her young son to Methodist Hospitals’ Southlake, she had no idea how serious the situation was about to become. Andrew Garcia, 9, was admitted to the Methodist Hospitals’ Southlake emergency department on April 30th. The boy was suffering from a high fever, some loss of motor control, vomiting, a large rash, and incoherency. “Andrew was very pale, almost as pale as a dead person. His face was grey, his lips were white, and he had dark circles under his eyes and on his eyelids,” Teresa recalled.

At 11:45 AM Andrew was seen by Claudine Ruzga, a physician’s assistant. Claudine stated that, “The appearance of this distinctive rash, often one of the final symptoms of deadly septicemia, means immediate medical treatment is vital. If left untreated, Acute Meningococcal Meningitis can progress rapidly and lead to death within hours. Due to a highly experienced ER staff and a collaborative effort as a team; we were able to recognize this rare symptom, accurately diagnose it in a timely fashion, and treat accordingly with a rewarding outcome." Claudine recognized the rash and understood that there was no time to lose. Following a confirmation by Dr. Zahid Hassan, the on duty Emergency Room physician, that the boy was indeed most likely infected with Meningitis, a helicopter air support team was contacted. The team then made its way to Methodist to transport the boy to University of Chicago Komer hospital.

While waiting for the air support team, antibiotics were administered to the boy. During this period many hospital employees put all of their needs aside to tend to the boy. Among these individuals were Becky Sebella, RN, and Paramedic, Chris Curdis. "When Andrew came into the Emergency Room at Southlake, the staff quickly recognized the seriousness of his condition. The nurses, medics, and physician staff worked quickly to take care of the entire family. But that's what we do here at Methodist and we are very good at it. When we have a critically ill child or adult, the staff comes together as a team to make sure patients get the best care possible. We have some of the best staff in the area and are always happy when we can save another life," stated Chris. Becky also instantly recognized the urgency of the situation, "I knew by looking at him that he was critically ill and time was of the essence. I treated him as if he were my own child."

Michelle Nizam, Southlake ER Manager, stated that, “The patient was initially seen by a Physician Assistant, with 10 years of ER experience, who made an accurate diagnosis, and immediately notified and involved the Emergency Room physician, Dr. Hassan. This is a typical scenario of how our mid-level providers and emergency room physicians work as a team to ensure the highest level of care for all our patients. There is always a quietness and sadness in the ER when there is a sick child. I know we all went home and silently prayed for this child and his family. When the mother brought the child back one month later, I was amazed and grateful to see how healthy he appeared. I looked at the mother and just cried with relief and overwhelming happiness that this had a good ending. "

Teresa Harris is overwhelmingly grateful for the efforts and quick response of all of the individuals who helped save her son’s life. “If it was not for the paramedic, nurses, and doctors Andrew may not have made it. I thank God that these wonderful individuals were working at the time that Andrew was admitted because they were fantastic and Andrew would not be here with us without them.”

Andrew was later admitted to the University of Chicago’s Komer hospital. He remained there in treatment for the next five days when he was released to his home. Once home Andrew still had to remain on an IV for twelve hours a day for the next ten days. Since his sickness Andrew has made a full recovery with no lingering affects from his courageous battle with his sickness.

Andrew and his mother are planning on visiting the ER soon to give thank you cards to the physician and nurses that treated Andrew. We can schedule so that media can be present to take photographs.

For more information or to interview/photograph Methodist Hospital employees, please contact me, my contact information is located below.

Amber Raza
Marketing and Corporate Communications
P: 219.886.4474
F: 219.886.4592
E: araza@methodisthospitals.org

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