He confirmed that she had a heart attack and that we had to get her to the Rand. The EMS was called and the ambulance was there in less than 2 minutes. My mother was frightened, but EMS personnel, Justin Hepburn and Arnold Russell were calm and reassuring and explained everything to her and eased her concerns. She was brought to the trauma area at the ER and was then admitted to ICU.
This letter is about a gift of life given to my family by the doctors (private and government), nurses at the Rand ICU and the remarkable EMS in Freeport.
Over the years, people have been heard to say: “don’t get sick in Freeport;” “medical care in Freeport is non-existent.” For the most part, this is from foreigners, ex-pats and, yes, sometimes Bahamians.
My mother came to Grand Bahama Island several weeks ago to spend the holidays with her family. We were so pleased that this healthy 93 year old woman would fly here from New York City to spend this time with her family who live here: her son, daughter, grandsons, and great granddaughters.
On Monday, December 5th, she had chest pains and her jaw hurt. We found out later that this is symptomatic of a heart attack in women. Mother asked me to take her to the Rand. Because we know how busy the ER is, we went to see Kevin Bethel, MD (right across the street from hospital) to have the symptoms assessed.
Mother remained in ICU, was administered stabilizing drugs, where there are 4 beds and 24 hour care. She was awestruck at the care provided by Petrona Campbell, RN, Mariselle Aguilar, RN and all the nurses in ICU under the watchful eyes of Deputy Nursing Officer, Mrs. Audrey Rolle. Dr. Edwards was in charge of her care and monitored her, along with her huge case load, and Dr. Ohueyi and Dr. Ibaceba.
We cannot say enough about Dr. Forbes, mother’s cardiologist. He knew what had to be done. He didn’t want her to have another heart attack. Her episodes of discomfort were increasing and he said, without alarming her, that she needed to be airlifted to hospital in Florida, whether the Cleveland Clinic or University Hospital in Miami - it was her choice.
This is where his explanation made sense and reassured my mother: if she were in New York with her own doctor or here with Dr. Forbes, neither one would be the doctors to perform an angioplasty. This procedure can only be done by doctors that perform these procedures all the time. She would not know the surgeon in New York and she wouldn’t know the surgeon in Florida.
On Saturday, December 10th, Dr. Forbes said that she had to go that day. He didn’t stop, he moved mountains. He was on the phone with me at 11:50pm Saturday evening and said that the Air Ambulance from Nassau would be landing in Freeport by 1am. Our Freeport EMS (Venesha Bartlett and Richard Swain on board the ambulance) went to the airport to pick up the Flight Doctor, Dr. Allick, and the Paramedic. They brought them to the Rand, where they hooked mother up to all the machines, put her on a gurney, back onto the ambulance and onto the plane (20 minutes).
We arrived in Ft. Lauderdale in 22 minutes. An ambulance ordered by the Cleveland Clinic was there. The Flight Doctor and Paramedic got on the US ambulance with my mother, brought her to the ER at the Cleveland Clinic, got her registered, made sure she was hooked up to everything and then left. My mother could not believe that all this happened so quickly and professionally.
On Monday, December 12th, Dr. Forbes’ recommended surgeon, took care of the 3 blockages in mother arteries. “She’s all fixed,” the doctor reported.
We got back to Freeport on Thursday, December 15th.
Here is the quote from mother that we want all to hear: “If this had happened to me in New York I would have been dead. I am alive because of the care I received in Freeport. That people truly watched, listened, protected and did what they are trained to do. I will never be concerned about becoming ill here.”
We want to give special note of thanks to Mr. Selwyn Strahn and Mrs. Dixie Jones Connelley for running an amazing EMS organization. While we were sitting comfortably today, enjoying the breezes and the blue sky, and watching mother get her strength back, there was a knock on the door and EMS delivered beautiful flowers to my mother (from their own funds). She was all smiles. There were hugs all around.
THANK YOU ALL for giving our mother, grandmother and great grandmother back to us for the holidays. We love you all.
- Karen Clarke, John and Wendy Gehr and all the rest of the family
Grand Bahama Island
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