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Scary ER visits a matter of routine for staff

Fellowship Story Showcase

Scary ER visits a matter of routine for staff

Picture of Mark Taylor
Post-Tribune
Sunday, February 6, 2011

The driving snow and freezing temperatures didn’t deter Clarice Hubbard from racing to the Methodist Hospitals Emergency Room the week before Christmas.

Hubbard, a Gary resident, had tucked in her 22-month old son, Tajohn Garza, for a nap when a few minutes later one of her seven other children screamed in panic that Tajohn was shaking in bed and “his eyes were weird.”

When Hubbard’s boyfriend brought him to her, the toddler was unresponsive.

“I threw on my coat, ran out on the street and flagged someone down in a car and asked them to take us to the hospital,” the 31-year-old said. “He was breathing and his eyes were open, but glossy. I was really scared.”

Hubbard, who has been to Methodist’s ER before with her other children, said she doesn’t have a family doctor, but said her children are treated by a pediatrician. “The nearest family doctor to us is way out in Merrillville,” said Hubbard, who does not own a car. “I have to call ahead to find transportation.”

She and her children are covered by Medicaid, the joint state and federally funded health insurance program for the poor and some elderly and disabled Hoosiers.

“I came running in with my baby in my arms and gave him to a nurse right away,” she said.

ER staff saw Tajohn and diagnosed him with a fever-induced seizure, steered him to the ER’s Fast Track rooms for patients requiring less critical treatment, where he was treated and released, bright-eyed and smiling again.

Fast Track Nurse LaDonna Bell entered the room of Shanta Franklin, a Gary mother of three, whose 10-year-old son, Mikal Franklin, slipped and fell the day before from a school bus onto an icy curb and hit his head, producing a walnut-size knot.

Shanta Franklin said while she has brought another son to the ER when he was vomiting, she tries to come “only when they’re really sick.”

Aspiring chef Natoya Lee of Gary was attempting to cut a piece of frozen meat with a knife when it slipped and sliced open her finger, which bled profusely.

Natoya, 15, has visited Methodist’s ER twice before for sprained ankles. “The doctor’s office was closed,” said her mother, Taleisha Lee of Gary. “They treat us fairly here and today it was fast. Mostly I come with the children.”

Bell took her temperature while Physician Assistant Al Vega applied a skin glue to close and the wound after disinfecting the site. Taleisha Lee has asthma and diabetes and has been hospitalized several times during the winter months.

“I used to go to the ER two to three times a year for asthma, but as I got older I’ve learned to control it better,” said Lee, who is covered by Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Indiana. She said her five children, who see the same pediatrician, receive insurance through Indiana Medicaid.

“I only come to the ER as a last resort,” she said.