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'They Truly Are Your Family': Cardiac Patient Finds New Home at Methodist Jennie Edmundson Hospital

From the Heart

Published: Oct. 26, 2020

 

On the evening of June 24, Raquel Hartranft of Glenwood, Iowa, thought she was just having another hot flash. But soon she was kneeling on the floor and couldn’t breathe. 

“I really honest to God thought I was going to die right then and there,” Raquel said. 

Suspecting a heart attack, her husband, Tom, called 911. The ambulance took her to the closest hospital, which they had never been to – Methodist Jennie Edmundson Hospital. Because of the outstanding care Raquel received, the teamwork they witnessed from the moment she arrived and the quick action of a dedicated nurse in a critical moment, Tom and Raquel say they’ll never go anywhere else.

“I went into this pretty unbiased,” Tom said. “But I’m biased now.”

 

A quick response to signs of stroke

Raquel hadn’t suffered a heart attack, but she did have a low ejection fraction and was admitted to the intensive care unit. Two days later, she was moved to the telemetry unit, which made her nervous that she wouldn’t get the same level of attentive care. But there was no need to worry.

“The people there, they made me feel like I was top-notch,” she said.

Raquel and Besco at Methodist Jennie Edmundson Hospital

On the day Raquel was to discharge, her nurse, Lindsay Besco, RN, had spent the morning bonding with Raquel and Tom and was obtaining final labs and vitals. She noticed Raquel had become pale and clammy, and her blood pressure was dropping – she quickly called for a rapid response team. 

“Lindsay took control,” Tom said. “She was moving.” 

“I was trying to look for my husband,” Raquel said. “I could see out of the corner of my eye people going to talk to him, which I was thankful for because a lot of times when things happen, they tell the family to wait outside. But I didn’t see that. I saw that they were taking care of my husband, too.” 

Besco stayed with Raquel and then noticed that her left side wasn’t moving. Her face was drooping, and Raquel couldn’t squeeze her hand. Besco called a stroke alert.

After a quick response, Raquel was taken to get a CT scan. She had suffered a ministroke, or a transient ischemic attack, and later found out that it probably wasn’t her first. 

Despite how quickly everything happened, Besco’s goal was to stay calm and keep Tom calm as well. 

“That was honestly the hardest part, but one of the great things about my job is being able to keep people calm and do the right thing,” she said. “I think we acted appropriately, and the teamwork was impeccable.” 

As a scared observer, Tom called that teamwork a “well-oiled machine.” 

“They knew what they were doing,” he said. “Confidence is instilled. Even though I was frazzled, I had confidence that they were going to take care of her the right way.” 

 

Tom and Raquel

“Pay attention to your body”

Raquel and Tom are grateful to every nurse, cardiologist, pulmonologist, respiratory therapist, dietician and cleaning technician they interacted with while at Jennie Edmundson. 

“They always say God never gives you more than you can handle,” Raquel said. “How wonderful that God has worked through these people. You can see that they care. It’s not just a job – that’s huge.” 

They’re especially grateful to Besco, who recognized that something was wrong and acted quickly to get her team involved. 

“The teamwork our group had that day was amazing,” she said. “It wasn’t just me. I’m just glad I was there when it happened so we could react so fast.” 

Besco was overjoyed when Raquel got to finally go home. She calls both Raquel and Tom “unforgettable.”

“They were so fun and great to talk to,” she said. “Just down to earth. I hope I see them again someday – outside of the hospital.” 

Besco encourages everyone to watch for signs of stroke – even ones that seem minimal, like numbness in fingertips and flashes in the eyes. 

“Pay attention to your body,” she said. “If you feel numbness or tingling in any of your extremities or have vision changes, don’t ignore it. If you feel like something’s wrong, something’s probably wrong. Immediately go to the emergency room because things can change so quickly. So quickly.” 

Raquel is following Besco’s advice and listening to her body, acknowledging that what she thought was exhaustion for so long, was actually a sign that something was seriously wrong. 

“If something doesn’t feel right, don’t always think it’s because you’re tired,” she said. “There was always a reason I thought I was tired.” 

Today, Raquel has no adverse effects from her ministroke. She’s still on the path to recovery due to her ejection fraction and recently completed cardiac rehab at Jennie Edmundson. And for her and Tom, there’s no other hospital for them. 

“They truly are your family,” Raquel said.  

“I’m a believer in divine intervention,” Tom added. “I don’t do everything right. I believe the good Lord’s watching out for us one way or the other. The stars aligned perfectly. We went where we were supposed to be.” 

 

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Cassandra Belek

About the Author:

Cassandra Belek is a content strategist for Methodist Health System. She spent a decade working in the entertainment industry in Los Angeles and Chicago before joining the Methodist family and focusing on her love of writing and storytelling. 

See More Articles by Cassandra Belek