Taking extra steps

sherika newman Lindsay parrishPhysician Sherika Newman and social worker Lindsay Parrish were among an army of people who showered the despondent patient with kindness and attention.


Day 5: Emory Saint Joseph's Hospital

When the patient named Salim first appeared in the emergency room at Emory Saint Joseph's Hospital, he had a terrible sore on his scalp and ear. It had to be painful, but he seemed not to notice.

Gradually, the health care team pieced together his medical history. He had been treated at Grady Hospital for AIDS but had stopped taking his medicines, his condition deteriorating rapidly. With no one to turn to, he had simply given up. Over the next few weeks at Emory Saint Joseph's, however, he emerged Lazarus-like from his debility and despondency.

Part of the credit belongs to the array of medicines prescribed by infectious disease physician Ronald Trible. But the emotional support he received was also a big factor. When Salim was at his lowest, social worker Lindsey Parrish and physician Sherika Newman provided palliative care—and lots of personal attention.

 

food stock

When Salim only picked at his food, staff began to cook dishes similar to what he described so nostalgically.

In fact, the hospital paid for around-the-clock sitters to ease his sense of isolation. As the patient recovered, Trible spent time asking about life in Salim's native Senegal. When Salim only picked at his food, staff began to cook dishes similar to what he described so nostalgically.

When he was well enough to leave hospital care, case manager Mary Looney worked on a discharge plan. Salim had no money, and an expired tourist visa meant he was ineligible for Medicaid. Having covered six weeks of hospital care, the hospital now paid for another two months at Emory's Budd Terrace for rehabilitation, and Looney organized wheelchair and walker donations as well as appointments at Grady's Ponce Center for AIDS patients. Eventually, he was well enough to move to the Living Room, a nonprofit that works to prevent homelessness for people with HIV/AIDS. There, another case manager helped him find permanent housing and work to support himself. He wants it. He has rediscovered the will to live.


Salim seemingly had no one to turn to until he arrived at the hospital, where good medicine and loving care helped him regain the will to live.