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Backus Checkup: It takes a village, and a whole lot of coordination, to save a life

On March 7, a butcher, husband and father suffered a severe laceration to a major artery while cutting meat at Salem Prime Cuts.

As The Day published recently, this was no routine injury. He severed his common femoral vein and was bleeding to death. They call this kind of injury a “widow-maker.” Thankfully, our team made sure the deadly moniker didn’t live up to its name. In the span of 24 hours, at least four people were credited with saving the life of 28-year-old Adam Ritchotte of Baltic.

Dr. Kyle McClaine, EMS Medical Director for Backus Hospital, explained to the media that Adam’s “amazing story allows us to raise community awareness of Stop the Bleed, our EMS training, our hospital system, and the power of our healthcare system.”

I couldn’t agree more. An injury such as Adam’s can lead to death in three minutes. But in 2017, Hartford HealthCare launched a statewide program to educate EMS personnel on wound packing and pressure dressing techniques. Those methods – and the talents of our trained colleagues – were key to Adam’s survival.

So were the skilled hands of Backus Trauma Surgeon David Coletti, who was credited as the third person to save Adam’s life (the first was Adam’s friend and co-worker who applied direct pressure to the wound, the second an EMS worker). Dr. Coletti was able to stop the bleeding and stabilize Adam so that he could be transported by LIFE STAR to Hartford Hospital, where Backus and Hartford Hospital vascular surgeon Edward Griffin performed an extremely risky surgery that can only be done at a tertiary care center. That saved Adam’s life for the fourth time in 24 hours.

Adam is now home and continuing to improve.

This very complicated case showcases how we provide care for a patient from start to finish. The technique Dr. Gifford used to repair Adam’s vein meant the patient wouldn’t need a prosthetic. While he did the vein repair, Hartford Hospital trauma surgeons worked to successfully save Adam’s leg and they were able to avoid needing skin grafts for his leg, as well.

After Adam went home, he was cared for by HHC at Home nurses. That’s coordinated care.

I am so proud to share and tell this story. Because this is a tale of teamwork – about how a community hospital, its skilled physicians, EMS partners, LIFE STAR and our tertiary care facility worked together against all odds. I marvel at the communication and coordination it took to save Adam’s life, and I want to thank everyone involved, including our Emergency Medical Services partners – if it weren’t for our first responders, Adam might never have made it to the hospital.

Donna Handley is president of Backus Hospital.

 

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