Thursday, May 9, 2013

Prestigious partners: Dr. Tim Woods and Janna Woodall

In mid-April, CoxHealth employees were recognized for their years of service to our organization. More than 1,100 employees and their guests gathered at University Plaza Convention Center to celebrate 12,500 combined years of service among employees receiving service pins. Here are the final two winners of CoxHealth's annual Prestigious Partners Awards:

Dr. Tim Woods, Ferrell-Duncan Clinic
Janna Woodall, CREW

Dr. Tim Woods and critical care nurse Janna Woodall were nominated for the care they provided to a patient and her family on one of the most difficult days imaginable – a day when it seemed the family would be losing their mother.

The patient had presented at the Cox South Emergency Department with severe abdominal pain. She was in critical condition with low blood pressure and severe dehydration. Dr. Woods told the family that he would need to perform an exploratory surgery. The patient was ill enough in the ER that Dr. Woods told her family that this could be catastrophic. They should prepare for the worst.

Dr. Woods removed a bowel obstruction, but the patient remained in critical condition. He sent her to the ICU and let the staff know that the patient was very sick and might not recover. The charge nurse assigned Janna to the patient exclusively, since the woman’s condition was so severe.

Janna met the family – including one of her daughters, who works here at CoxHealth. She told them how critical the situation was. And she kept them informed of everything that was going on – anytime she spoke with Dr. Woods, she told the family what was happening.

Janna noticed that the patient was having problems maintaining her blood pressure. Janna suspected that she might be losing blood. Dr. Woods contacted peers and co-workers, trying to figure out what could be making her critical. Everyone was at a loss.

Dr. Woods recalls: “Later that day, she started dying on us in the ICU. I couldn’t get her blood pressure up, her pulse was horrible, her oxygenation was horrible. I told the family, ‘I don’t think she’s going to make it through.’”

Then, the patient’s blood count came up slightly and Dr. Woods saw an opportunity for one last chance to save the woman’s life.
Woods decided another emergency surgery would be necessary. He didn’t believe the patient would survive a trip to the OR – they would have to operate in the ICU.

Dr. Woods told the staff: “We have to operate, and if we don’t get started in minutes, she will die.”

He called the OR and asked for assistance stat. Immediately the OR provided 3 nurses, 2 techs and 3 anesthesia providers. Working quickly, Woods and the team performed surgery, discovering that the patient’s colon had essentially died.

“In minutes, we had an operating room in that ICU, it was amazing teamwork.” Dr. Woods says.

“We removed her colon in literally 20 minutes. We needed to, she was that sick. I really believe if we hadn’t done something in a couple of minutes, she would have died. There’s no way she could have tolerated a trip to the operating room.”

The second procedure improved the patient’s vital signs and renewed hope for her survival.

Dr. Woods says: “That was absolutely what she needed. She was extraordinarily sick and by doing the surgery it got us the extra couple of days to allow us to resuscitate her.”

With the patient improving, Dr. Woods and Janna worked to support her family members: keeping them informed and letting them know that they were here to help. Dr. Woods says that’s something families need to hear -- to know that physicians and hospital staff are going to be there for their family member until they get better.

Dr. Woods says: “As a physician, when you’re taking care of a loved one, if you’re not focusing on the family, you’re missing the ball. When I finished that surgery, I told them, ‘listen, I’m in this for the long haul and I’m going to be here with you until we hopefully successfully help her leave the hospital.”

Janna says supporting families in difficult times is one of the reasons she became a nurse.

She says: “I think about, if that was my family, what would I want said to me? That’s how I approach all my patients, critical and otherwise. I’d want them to be upfront and honest, but not just give me numbers. I want to be compassionate and empathetic.”

Janna says you form a bond with the families in a situation like this.

She says: “It’s very emotional, but it’s just part of what I do. I’m a person of faith and we all have God-given gifts and talents and I think relating to families is one of mine.”

After a stay of several weeks in the hospital, the patient was able to go home. She’s now living in Las Vegas with one of her daughters.

Dr. Woods says it’s the kind of outcome you work toward in health care. He says: “She’s had some other complications, but she was able to walk out of our hospital. She’s alive, she can hold her grandbabies and her quality of life is rather good. If somebody is going to go through something like this, I strive to get them the best quality of life we can.”

Like many partners winners, Woods and Woodall say they were surprised about the award. From their point of view, they were simply doing their jobs.

Janna says she was moved to tears by the nomination. She says: “This was my first one and that’s part of why it was so meaningful. I’m honored to share it with Dr. Woods. He’s very astute and he always listens and trusts our judgment, especially if we have a concern.”

Dr. Woods says the award was a shock to him as well.

He says: “None of us do this to try to get accolades. I was honored and humbled that the family felt strongly enough to nominate us. Without the help of everyone on the team, we couldn’t have achieved what we did.”