16Mar

#AcuitySuccessStory: Elizabeth Jones, A Three Year Journey with Her Childhood Sweetheart by Her Side Every Step of the Way

Elizabeth Jones was in high school when she met her sweetheart, Willie.

They dated for a few months then lost contact with each other for 20 years. Then, sometime later, she was able to reconnect with him on Facebook and they started to renew their relationship. Elizabeth said she was the one who proposed to Willie on the Atlantic City boardwalk. They have been married for seven years now, and been together for even longer.

Unfortunately, Elizabeth was to spend a large portion of her life from 2014 to the present day, in and out of Hospitals receiving intensive care with Willie by her side every step of the journey.

In October 2014, Elizabeth was admitted to a Hospital in upstate state New York for a routine hernia repair. Although she had previously received a kidney transplant, she was generally a healthy person who lived as normal a life as any Army wife. She had a fulltime job and a daughter. Her husband Willie, an Army serviceman, was stationed in New York at the time.

Both Elizabeth and Willie were unaware that this elective surgery would result in a devastating series of medical complications and repeat hospitalizations due to unforeseen events in her recovery.

During her postoperative recovery following the hernia repair, Elizabeth’s intestines became severely infected and she sustained a small stroke with recurrent seizures. Due to this, she spent an extended period of time on a ventilator machine. After several weeks, she was able to be liberated from the ventilator and started to make a slow recovery.

Following this complicated hospital stay, Elizabeth was finally discharged to an acute rehabilitation unit in December of 2014. In February of 2015, she returned for another surgery at the hospital in New York, after it was discovered she had several large intra-abdominal abscesses. A drain was placed in her small intestine and her wound had reopened. Her IV lines had also become infected. This was a long and arduous time for Elizabeth. She remained hospitalized for several weeks and received a repeat surgery in April 2015. Elizabeth also had many other infections and high fevers throughout her subsequent hospitalizations.

Elizabeth was then referred to the Cleveland Clinic. She was instructed to be re-evaluated by the surgeons there. Upon examination and review of her medical records, it was determined that it would be advisable not to receive any further surgical interventions for at least a year. During this time, Willie remained at her side for every step of her journey.

Finally, in August 2015, Elizabeth was transferred from the Cleveland Clinic to Acuity Specialty Hospital of New Jersey, located in Atlantic City, for management of her poor nutritional status and intensive wound care of her abdominal wall opening. Elizabeth had some family support close to Atlantic City and the surgeons at the Cleveland Clinic felt that Acuity would an excellent location for the specialized care she needed while she waited for another abdominal surgical intervention.

Once her nutritional status was improved and her abdominal wound was free of infection, it was decided that Elizabeth would be transferred to Thomas Jefferson University Hospital of Philadelphia (TJUH). The surgeons there would evaluate her for further surgery of her abdominal complications. Again, she was unable to receive more abdominal surgery as she started to develop seizures during her stay at TJUH, as she had following her first surgery in New York.

Understandably, Elizabeth became severely depressed and disoriented during this time.

Elizabeth returned to Acuity Specialty Hospital again for continued specialized wound care management. During this time, she remembers the wonderful care she received. She remembered Ronnel and Nancy, the nurses who were dedicated to performing excellent wound care for her every day. Although she said there were so many healthcare professionals at Acuity that were caring and attentive, she particularly remembered Joan, the night RN team leader and Vonka, one of the day patient care technicians. She also spoke fondly of Dr. Nwotite, who she said was always patient and compassionate while managing her care.

Elizabeth returned to TJUH in October of 2015 where a kidney stone was discovered and removed.

At every hospital and every day, Willie stayed by her side. Willie slept in chairs, often with blankets on the floor in her hospital rooms. He remained optimistic about her recovery. He was so grateful for the staff at Acuity and they admired him for his dedication to Elizabeth.

Again, Elizabeth returned to Acuity from Thomas Jefferson University Hospital for continued wound care and continued management of a multitude of medical complications. She was then transferred to Walter Reed Military Hospital in Virginia, in March of 2016 where she underwent an abdominal reconstruction with closure of her wound. Elizabeth’s last visit to Acuity was in April 2016. She was finally discharged home in May of 2016 to follow up with the surgeon at Walter Reed.

Thankfully, Elizabeth does not remember a large portion of the time she was hospitalized, but it was over a period of almost 3 years.

Elizabeth is now living in her home in New York State again. She will have to return to Walter Reed Military Hospital, in the spring, for a further surgical intervention. Her husband Willie has returned to work in the Army Supply Division.

Written by Claire Brown BSN, RN Director of Provider Relations