I’d hug you, but I’m dirty

Florence | May 10, 2017
Team pulls together to help pair in transition

Something told Dianna Pimlott that her day at PeaceHealth Peace Harbor Medical Center was going to be interesting.

Maybe the stack of rather pungent luggage and the big beautiful pitbull she passed in the emergency department gave it away.

Once at her post, Pimlott, the director of pharmacy services at the hospital in Florence, Oregon, received a call around 7:45 that morning from William “Chip” Scott, a nurse in the ED, who said they needed a special injectable for a patient—whom Pimlott assumed was the owner of the aforementioned pitbull.

It wasn’t a prescription typically on hand. She called colleagues at PeaceHealth Sacred Heart Medical Center-RiverBend in Springfield, Oregon (about an hour away). They had the medication, but no couriers were available in Florence that could make an emergency trip to and from Eugene.

Pimlott worked feverishly with help from Scott and Jan Finley, nurse manager of the ED, to line up all of the details necessary for the treatment—from getting a provider’s script and entering the orders to making an appointment on the patient’s behalf at the outpatient infusion center for the following day.

Little did the patient know what was happening behind the scenes so he wandered to the walk-in clinic and then just as suddenly left again without giving the staff a way to reach him.

By this time, it was around 11 a.m. Pimlott panicked, thinking the patient was gone. She ran back to the ED. Scott had called the patient’s emergency contact number and then reached out to the local police for help to find the patient.

No sooner did he make the call, than an off-duty policeman passed through the lobby and witnessed a commotion involving a man and his dog. The officer, feeling as if he should have stopped to provide assistance, mentioned this to his spouse who works near Pimlott.

Pimlott overheard and rushed to the lobby, finding Kenny Thrall of the hospital’s facilities talking with the man. For safety reasons, it wouldn’t be an option for the man to continue to stay with his dog and baggage in the ED while waiting for treatment. Thrall was telling the man about the local soup kitchen and other services.

“I came around the corner thinking I had an answer to everything, the medication would be available in the morning and we had an appointment scheduled for his return,” said Pimlott. But when she asked the man if he was the patient, he said, “no.”  The man waiting in the lobby was NOT the patient who needed the medication Pimlott had been working to obtain. The man and his dog were in the ED lobby because they had nowhere else to go!

The patient who needed the medication never came back. But the pharmacy has kept the medication on hand, in case he ever does.

While the situation wasn’t what she originally thought, Pimlott felt compelled to help. So she bent down, petted the dog and started talking with the man to build trust. It came out that he had a place lined up in Eugene, Oregon, but he had taken a bit of a detour, she said. “He arrived here because he felt this would be a safe place.”

Despite having a bed in a Eugene treatment facility and a bus ticket secured for him by Joni Schmidt, a PeaceHealth chaplain, he refused to leave because he couldn’t afford the bag fees. Pimlott assured him the extra cost would be covered.

“There was a lot of back and forth, and a lot of listening and negotiating.” After he finally agreed to get on the bus, Pimlott ran to get $10 from her purse.

He gratefully took the money and gathered up his things. With tears in his eyes, he said, “I’d hug you, but I’m dirty.”

Much to his surprise, she wrapped her arms around him and wished him blessings on his way. “There’s no way I wouldn’t give him a hug,” she said.

Pimlott later marveled at what she and her co-workers and members of the community had just experienced. There were two weary men and one pitbull in their ED that morning who needed special care. “Everyone was doing their job the best they could to help them.”