Deborah's Story

Restoring a loving mother to her family

Deborah Williams had trouble breathing and was rushed to the emergency room where doctors discovered her oxygen was low. Further tests revealed the 59-year-old had a heart attack. Deborah went into respiratory and kidney failure. Her airway was stabilized, she was placed on a ventilator and began dialysis.

After a three week fight for her life in intensive care, she stabilized and doctors recommended Select Specialty Hospital – Memphis for additional healing and recovery time.

She arrived in June, and her supportive family hoped Deborah would “see life again.”

A physician-led team of nurses and therapists created a plan to bring Deborah around. They began with our mobility program, a series of simple movements. *Studies show that increased mobility can increase a patient’s ability to breathe independently again. Physical and occupational therapists moved her arms, legs, wrists and ankles to keep blood flowing. Nurses repositioned her.

Respiratory therapists also began trials to see if Deborah was ready to liberate from the ventilator.

Deborah was progressing, but hit a hurdle a month into her stay. Her doctor detected and removed a hernia.  After a month in intensive care at her local hospital, Deborah stabilized and her family transferred her back to SSH-Memphis for continued healing.

Following the surgery, Deborah’s progress ticked steadily forward. Her hardest-won accomplishment was liberating from the ventilator. On the second try, Deborah was able to begin breathing on her own.

Her return also meant additional services from the care team, including: healing wounds, ostomy support and intravenous antibiotic treatments. Nurses and pharmacists worked together to change Deborah’s dressings, administer medication and check the specially pressurized dressings.

As she became more alert, Deborah began participating in physical therapy.

In all, she spent seven months recovering from her ordeal. As she neared the end of her stay, Deborah strengthened enough to walk short distances, had begun fully breathing on her own and was slowly returning to regular meals.

By March 2019, Deborah took the next step in her recovery journey to skilled nursing facility, for continued work on walking greater distances.

Her family stated that SSH-Memphis “gave their mother a second chance at life.” They were especially appreciative of the many staff members who provided “care beyond care” during Deborah’s stay.

*Unroe, Ann Int Med, 2010, 153, 167