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Turning Tragedy Into Treasure – The Gift Of Friends

This open letter to the community was submitted by Kim Moore

My Easter Gift

On March 31, 2013, Easter morning, I woke up at my usual time, 5:00 am, and got ready for work. I live in the foothills, so my day starts early. I am a nurse in the Emergency Department (ED) at Community Regional Medical Center.

It was my Friday, I was finishing a very busy weekend at work, and I was looking forward to having two days off with my family.My daughter was on break from school, and my boyfriend was coming up to stay with me. As I drove to work, my thoughts were of all the hiking trips and fishing trips we were going to do as a family. Then in a blink of an eye it all changed.

As a rounded a turn on Highway 41, coming at me in my lane were two headlights, and they were making no attempt to move aside. I glanced to my right to see if I could move to the shoulder and there was nothing but rocks. When I looked back all I could do was scream and brace myself.

I wish I could say I lost conscious, but I didn’t. I remember every second of the violent crash. I remember not being able to breath, and thinking I was going to die. That is when I received my first gift of the day.

As I was sitting in my car willing myself to stay calm and just breathe, I heard a voice that sounded familiar to me. I was still struggling to breathe so my voice was not very loud I kept repeating, louder and louder “I know you,” to the woman I could not see, but only hear. Finally, she looked in my car and I said “Its Kim,” and she replied “Kim Moore?”

Jocelyn Olin is a paramedic and flight medic for American Ambulance. She was off duty at the time and just happened to be driving down to Fresno and was three cars behind me. I was so thankful to her for stopping to help instead of just continuing on her way. I found great comfort in knowing she was there and could help me.

There was also a young man, I didn’t catch his name, who stayed with me the entire time while the Fire Department was trying to cut me out of my car.

Between Jocelyn and the unnamed man who kept talking to me, telling me everything that was going on, and telling me I was going to be OK, I somehow remained as calm as possible. But I felt so hot, and then cold, and I was so sweaty, and the pain – it was more pain than I had ever felt. I remember begging them to “just get me out of here.”

Then I heard the sound of yet another gift – a helicopter. My first thought was “YES! They are getting me out of here and taking me to MY hospital.” I saw the flight crew, I knew them,and I could see them talking to the fire crew and other EMS.

Then they came and told me it was taking too long to cut me out of my car. My ankle was trapped and they were unable to take me out my driver side where they had cut the door off. So the first helicopter took off with the other driver.

My heart sank a little at that time, but there was Jocelyn telling me not to worry, that “H-4,” (which is SkyLife’s second helicopter) was on their way to get me.

I can’t count all of the emergency personnel who were working to get me out of my car. Nor can I thank them enough for their quick response and the care they provided to both me and the other driver.

Once I was free, well sort of free, I was strapped tightly to a board and placed in the helicopter. All I could think of were the faces of my co-workers. I couldn’t wait to see “my girls” in trauma. I knew if anyone could help me feel better and fix me, they would. As soon as the helicopter landed and they were taking me out, I had one thought, “Where is Jackie?”

Jackie Carr is a PCA in the ED. I have worked with her for years, and I knew she was going to be on that roof to get me. And there she was, finally, and with tears in her eyes she said “We are going to take care of you,” and she kissed me on my forehead. AHH, I thought, “I am home.” I had received yet another gift, and after that one, they just kept coming.

As I was brought into Trauma Two, I could hear the flight nurse giving a report to the ED staff. I wanted to listen to find out if I was hurt worse than I thought, but then I saw first Carol Nolen, then Lea Pisching, and tears came to my eyes. All I could say was, “I hurt.” I knew that now that I was here, in my home away from home, I would finally feel more relief from my pain.

At the accident scene and in the helicopter I had received pain meds, but I was so scared, stressed and shocked, that until I was in a familiar environment I don’t think any pain meds would have worked.

After my initial “ahh” moment, I began to look around and saw some of the night crew. Shari Warner, Coti Thomas and Eddie Padilla had stayed over to help. And at first I thought “oh s***, how bad am I?” And then I realized that they were there not because of how bad I was, but because we are family and that’s what we do.

As I was thinking “how nice of everyone to be here just for me,” there was a face over me asking me questions. It was Dr. Dubanski, and I could also see Dr. Maxwell, and at that point it finally hit me. I was going to be okay.

As I was getting x-rays and a CAT scan, and my awesome trauma nurses and PCA were taking care of me, I could see more fellow co-workers standing by with concern on their faces. And slowly but surely, after I was asked if I wanted to see anyone, to which I of course answered YES, my co-workers who are also my friends and second family came to see me.

All of them had such concern in their eyes and some even had tears. Even my big boss, Garth Wade, came in on a Sunday just to see for himself that I would be ok. I knew that in the ED we all had a special bond, that somehow because of all that we go through, we were more than just co-workers. But on that day, I felt the love we all have for one another and that was one of the greatest gifts I received that day.

Since my accident, the love and support of my co-workers hasn’t stopped. I spent 12 days in the hospital – two days on the 5th floor, and the remaining time on the rehab floor, which I didn’t even know existed.

I received such great care on the rehab floor. I really enjoyed the staff and my time with all my Physical and Occupational Therapist. Everyone was so encouraging, even my fellow patients. Every day I had visitors from my family and friends, of course, but mostly from my co-workers. My room was filled with flowers and balloons. I was brought more magazines than I could read during my stay and more candy than I could eat.

I had expressed to some of my family and friends my concerns over how I was going to pay my bills. I mean here I was with a badly fractured right ankle and right wrist. Both had required surgery. I also had a right clavicle fracture and bruising all over my body. I was wheelchair bound for I didn’t know how long. How was I going to care for my family?

Well in comes Garth. He looked at me and said, “I heard that you were worried. Well let me help ease that worry.” He sat down with me and explained how everything works, and helped me figure out the best way to use my sick time in combination with disability. He also made sure all my disability and leave paperwork was done in a timely manner. And he left me with these words – “I don’t want you to worry, I want you to get better, and that’s your job right now. The rest will get taken care of.”

Now if there is one thing I know about this man, I know that when he says something he means it. So I listened, not knowing what was going on behind the scenes, but sensing something was up. It didn’t take long before it all became clear to me.

My co-workers had banded together to do fund raisers to help with my expenses, knowing I wouldn’t be getting any income for a while. Some, like Victor Portillo, Ronnie from the lab, and Carol Houk, all took turns making enough of the signature dishes to sell for lunch to the staff. Kayla Gill made cupcakes and was selling them. When a patient overheard what it was for, he bought all the cupcakes, then gave them back to the nurses to eat.

Jackie Carr and Briana Atendido organized a raffle in which many co-workers bought and donated goods to be raffled off. EMS personnel who were bringing patients in were donating money to me. People I didn’t even know were buying raffle tickets! All of this for me!

Even after I was discharged home, I had co-workers making me dinner and bringing it to my house. I’m not sure how I got so lucky as to have so many great people in my life. But I am extremely grateful for them all.

There is no way I could possible thank everyone enough for everything they have done for me and my family. As a nurse and a patient of Community Regional Medical Center, I can tell you that this is more than a place of employment or a place that provides care to patients. It is a community of very caring people who not only know how to, but take pride in giving the best care possible.

I have never been more proud to be a part of such an outstanding team. I am so happy that it is my home away from home, and will remain so for many more years to come.

My family and I thank each and every one of you!
Kim Moore

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