[PATIENT story] [PATIENT story]
role model because she is articulate,
passionate about life and she’s recovered
well — emo...
surgery procedures
save aneurysm patient’s
life — again and again
‘Every day
is a gift
— not a
of 2


Published on: Mar 3, 2016

Transcripts - NateGoold_Proof_Positive

  • 1. [PATIENT story] [PATIENT story] role model because she is articulate, passionate about life and she’s recovered well — emotionally and physically.” “I just want to tell patients, ‘Yes, you will get past this and follow what the nurses and doctors tell you,’ ” says Laura. “ ‘They know what’s best. You’re blessed to be here at Via Christi.’ ” Laura’s optimism, infectious smile and friendly demeanor are inspirational to burn patients. Shel Hughes, the first patient Laura counseled as a SOAR volunteer, was burned as she was pouring gas into her riding mower. “When Laura first visited me, I was scared and I had a lot of questions about what my life would be like,” Shel says. “She understood what I was going through. Laura comforted me and let me know everything would be all right.” Shel says Laura motivated her to become a SOAR volunteer, too. “I feel like helping burn patients is my calling,” she says. “I need to be there for them like Laura was for me.” A disastrous chain of events On Jan. 3, 2005, Laura, an office manager in Winfield, was looking at a newly painted hallway when someone kicked over a can of acetone. She then slipped and fell in the caustic substance. As she struggled to her feet, a spark of static electricity ignited the chemical fumes and caused a powerful flash fire that threw her into a glass cabinet and severely burned her legs. Burn survivor Laura Thomas inspires patients on their own journey to recovery On fire, Laura dropped to the ground and rolled while one co-worker removed his shirt to help her extinguish the flames. Another co-worker tried to help douse the fire with a nearby pot of coffee, scalding her already sensitive skin and compounding her injuries. Badly burned and in tremendous pain, Laura was taken to the town’s hospital, then transported by ambulance to Via Christi Hospital on St. Francis, home to the only dedicated burn care facility within 180 miles of Wichita. The slow journey to recovery Laura was brought directly into the center’s admit room, which is kept at 110 degrees to prevent hypothermia, a T o look at Laura Thomas today, you would never know that she quietly suffers from life-altering burn injuries that have left her scarred and in constant pain. The wife and mother of three was a patient at Via Christi Regional Burn Center for six weeks after being burned in a flash fire at her workplace. That was nearly eight years ago. Now she is a frequent visitor to the center as a volunteer for SOAR — Survivors Offering Assistance in Recovery — to give hope to others. “She is instrumental in building a rapport and a connection with people,” says Curt West, a case worker in the Burn Center. “I think they find her a positive After the accident, Laura was able to be present for the birth of her first grandchild, Isabella. She and her husband, Bob, recently visited her in Florida. Proof positive For Laura Thomas, being a volunteer for the SOAR program is a way to provide hope to burn patients and give back to Via Christi Regional Burn Center. What is SOAR? Designed by the Phoenix Society, the Survivors Offering Assistance in Recovery (SOAR) program provides formal training to burn survivors who can help comfort burn patients and their loved ones by giving them one-on-one support. Volunteers do not give medical advice, but they can share their experiences and give hope to burn patients. Since its creation in 2001, the SOAR program has been implemented in 48 hospitals throughout the U.S. and Canada. The program came to Via Christi Regional Burn Center in 2010 and has six participating volunteers. lower-than-normal body temperature caused by losing skin, which serves as the body’s insulation. Nurses washed and removed dead skin, an excruciating process. A skin graft taken from her own body was applied to Laura’s burns within a day of her arrival. She would require several more during the next few weeks. “The pain from a severe burn is so indescribable that you have to mentally keep your head above it just to cope,” Laura says. “I prayed, I focused on the faces of my children in the photo by my bed and found comfort with my husband’s hand on mine.” “The nurses and the doctors provided me with exemplary care and helped me live through that time. I knew that I was safe, that I was cared for and I felt like a person and not just a patient in bed 28.” “I just want to give back. The way that I feel I can do that is through the SOAR program and to let other survivors know the other side.” — Laura Thomas Via Christi Life 3736 Via Christi Life Via Christi Health | viachristi.org | O C T O B E R - N O V E M B E R - D E C E M B E R 2 0 1 2 O C T O B E R - N O V E M B E R - D E C E M B E R 2 0 1 2 | viachristi.org | Via Christi Health
  • 2. Neuro-interventional surgery procedures save aneurysm patient’s life — again and again ‘Every day is a gift — not a given’ It was Easter weekend — Good Friday, 2011 — and “a storm was brewing” inside Karen Fifer’s head. “It hit with lightning speed,” she says. “In a matter of minutes our lives were changed.” Karen, 58, of Haysville, was surrounded by family at her daughter Cindi’s home in Wichita, about to enjoy an outdoor meal of homemade tacos. “Suddenly it felt like I had been hit in the head with a hammer,” she says. Dizziness then excruciating pain set in. Karen wrapped her arms around her husband Don’s waist and “hung on for dear life.” “Clutching at his shirt just to contain myself, all I could do was say, ‘God, oh God’ over and over,” she says. Another of Karen’s daughters, DeAnna, a surgery tech, recognized what was happening to her mother, who was holding her head and moaning. A weak spot in a blood vessel in Karen’s head — an aneurysm — had ruptured, causing extreme pain as blood leaked into the space around her brain. DeAnna told Cindi, “Call EMS. Something’s wrong with Mom.” Karen says DeAnna’s quick actions “probably saved my life.” Reading the Bible is one of the joys Karen Fifer makes more time for since a ruptured brain aneurysm nearly took her life. She lives by the statement, “Every day is a gift — not a given.” [PATIENT story] Understanding what had happened to her body and why was challenging. “She went through a lot physically, spiritually and emotionally,” says Karen Kelman, RN, who has worked in the Burn Center for 19 years and cared for Laura during wound cleanings and bandage changes. “I worked with her because she enjoys humor, which is what I bring to my patients when they need it. With the mix of personalities in our unit, we are able to give our patients all the support they need when they need it.” Saying thanks by giving back Although many years have passed since Laura’s accident, the scars, pain and memory of her caregivers’ kindness remains. Coming back as a volunteer is her way of returning the favor. Through tragedy, burn survivors share a powerful connection. Laura Thomas and Shel Hughes, the first patient she counseled as a volunteer, keep in contact and remain friends. Part of the Oct. 14 Prairie Fire Marathon — a 1.2-mile fun run/walk sponsored by the Paige Estes Memorial Foundation — benefits Via Christi Regional Burn Center. Last year, $10,000 of the proceeds went to help provide necessities to burn patients and their families. Visit prairiefiremarathon.com for more information about Prairie Fire events. To give directly to the Burn Center, contact Connie Neal at connie.neal@viachristi.org or call 316-268-5292. Reasons you might go to the Burn Center Located in the hospital on St. Francis, Via Christi Regional Burn Center is a specialized facility that takes care of more than just burn patients. Commonly treated conditions include: Scalds Snake and spider bites Electrical injuries Complex wounds (e.g., pressure ulcers, electrical burns) Cellulitis, a bacterial skin infection Necrotizing fasciitis, a flesh- eating disease Ways you can help burn patients Paige Estes [NEW technology] Watch Laura Thomas and others tell her story by visiting viachristi.org/burn-survivor click+learn Via Christi Life 3938 Via Christi Life Via Christi Health | viachristi.org | O C T O B E R - N O V E M B E R - D E C E M B E R 2 0 1 2 O C T O B E R - N O V E M B E R - D E C E M B E R 2 0 1 2 | viachristi.org | Via Christi Health

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