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Published on July 30, 2018

When a fall leads to good patient careWhen a fall leads to good patient care

Muriel KerriganSometimes, it’s the small considerations and gestures of others that can make an overwhelming emergency and subsequent hospitalization a little bit easier to manage.

Muriel Kerrigan, a retired nurse from Woburn, is grateful for those thoughtful kindnesses.

On August 30, 2017, she arrived in Mashpee to visit and celebrate her daughter’s birthday. A misstep at the bottom of the basement stairs in her daughter’s home changed all that a day later, when she fell and fractured her hip.

Her appreciation for great medical care and caring began with the arrival of the Mashpee Fire Department.

“They were wonderful and very competent,” said Kerrigan.

While she acknowledged their professionalism in getting her out of the basement and onto a stretcher for transport to Falmouth Hospital, it was the simple act of an EMT noticing her grandson Devin’s distress over her accident that made her particularly grateful.

“Devin was holding on to his dad and sobbing because he had seen me fall,” Kerrigan said. “I asked him to come over and see me. I told him I was going to the hospital, they would take good care of me and fix me up.

“It made him feel a little better that I got to talk with him. It was a kindness that someone could have totally ignored and didn’t. The whole ambulance crew was great.”

Her journey continued to the Yawkey Emergency Center where an X-ray revealed an intertrochanteric fracture of her left hip. She was evaluated by Robert Wilsterman MD, an orthopedic surgeon at Falmouth Hospital, who scheduled her for surgery the next day, even though it was his day off.

“I had debated about going home for the surgery,” said Kerrigan.

A call to her own orthopedic physician and discussion with Dr. Wilsterman helped her realize that travel would be too uncomfortable. She was reassured she could be followed by her own orthopedic group and have rehabilitation when she got home.

Kerrigan was admitted to the hospital, where she would remain throughout her eight-day stay. She was taking a blood thinner to prevent clots and, while measures were taken preventively before surgery to help her blood clot during and after surgery, she still required seven transfusions.

She credits Bird, the nurses and nurses’ aides on Med-Surg II floor for the great care she received during her stay.

“When you are a nurse and become a patient or visit a loved one who is a patient, you look at it with both eyes; that is, from the family side of things and the nursing side.

“I don’t think I’ve ever come across such a cohesive group who are on the same page. I felt very comfortable and they were very welcoming. It was impressive.”

Kerrigan especially acknowledges Martina LeRhette, RN, and Joan Danforth, RN,.

“I had those two nurses most of the time and they along with the other nurses and nurses aides were great.”

Kerrigan also noted a couple of details that enhanced her hospital experience. One was the HoverMatt, an inflatable mat used to move her from bed to stretcher and stretcher to X-ray table.

“It makes you feel much lighter and easier to be moved,” said Kerrigan. “I didn’t have any pain when they moved me.”

The second detail is the fact that housekeeping disinfected her phone and bed controls every day.

“I’ve never seen that done before and you have to figure those two items are pretty germy,” she said.

Kerrigan continued her rehab back in her home town after a stint at New England Rehabilitation Hospital in Woburn where she was formerly employed as a rehab nurse.

Of her experience at Falmouth Hospital, Kerrigan summed it up by saying, “I couldn’t have asked for better nursing care.”