As NHPCO’s Vice President for Palliative and Advance Care Lori Bishop explains, it was a dinner that they will not soon forget.
Following the NHPCO and Hospice Action Network board meetings on June 20, Lori and members of the board went to a quiet restaurant near the NHPCO offices in historic Alexandria, Virginia. Along with Lori, were Board Chair Jan Jones, Sally Aldrich, Katy Lanz, Suzi Johnson, Melinda Gruber, and Susan Lloyd. These women oversee some of the nation’s best hospice and palliative care programs in addition to their leadership contributions to NHPCO and the broader end-of-life community. By the end of dinner they put their training as clinical professionals into play.
During the course of their meal, they noticed a man at a nearby table suddenly lurch back in his chair and fall towards the floor. Sally and Katy sprung in to action without a moments hesitation; Sally got there so fast she even caught the gentleman’s head before it hit the floor.
Jan immediately placed the necessary call to 911 while Sally and Katy did a quick assessment. The gentleman was not responsive and had agonal breathing – things did not look good. Katy started chest compressions. About 15 compressions in, the man became responsive.
While Katy and Sally tended to the fellow diner, Susan provided support and comfort to the man’s wife. Susan explained that they were a table of nurses and the response mechanism kicked in automatically. As emergency personnel arrived and picked up the care of the gentleman, Susan stayed with the wife and even offered to accompany her to the hospital with her husband.
After the incident the team provided debriefing for Katy and Sally and validated their assessment and actions. It was unanimous, these hospice heroes saved a life!
The restaurant gave the table a free round of desserts to express their gratitude and the staff declared them heroes and angels.
As Lori remarked, “it’s gratifying to know that our professional experience as nurses is always a part of who we are – you never know when those clinical skills will be needed.”