When intuition, instinct and initiative come together

Ketchikan | August 3, 2018
Ketchikan nurse saves family member of patient
A nurse follows her heart, stepping in at just the right moment to save a life.

A PeaceHealth caregiver’s powerful gifts of intuition, instinct and initiative turned out to be a life-saving combination.

Timing is everything

What seemed like a typical day turned out to be anything but for PeaceHealth Ketchikan Medical Center Nurse Manager Kimm Schwartz.

She was busy assisting a patient who was scheduled to have two diagnostic procedures for stomach-related issues. While the man’s insurance provider had approved one of the procedures, consent hadn’t been given yet for the other.

Kimm consulted the doctor, and they agreed it would be best for the patient if both procedures could be completed that day. That’s when Kimm got to work.

“There was a lot of back-and-forth between the clinic, and multiple phone calls to the insurance company,” she explained. “The patient had come in with his wife in the morning, and it was the afternoon before we had everything figured out.”

As it turns out, timing is everything.

Following her instincts

During her interactions with the couple throughout the morning, Kimm had noted that the patient’s wife didn’t look well and was having trouble breathing. When Kimm questioned the woman about it, she said she had recently developed a bad cold that just wouldn’t go away.

“She told me she wasn’t able to get into the clinic right away for an appointment, but she didn’t feel she was sick enough to go to the ER.”

However, Kimm’s gut told her that’s exactly where the woman should be. And those instincts were right. After the woman was examined, it was determined that her blood oxygen levels were rapidly decreasing. She was quickly admitted by the ER to the intensive care unit for continued treatment for pneumonia and influenza B.

“She had to be intubated and placed on a ventilator to help with her breathing,” Kimm explained. “She basically crashed in the ER.”

The woman recovered, and a few days later Kimm once again bumped into her at the hospital as she waited for some lab results.

“I’m just glad I’m here,” the patient told her. “I owe it all to you.”

That moment of appreciation, Kimm explained, came at just the right time in her life.

“It reaffirmed why I decided to become a nurse 19 years ago,” she said. “For me, it was a sign that as a nurse I’m where I need to be. It was so inspirational.”