The day started cold and snowy as we set out to bring our patient Susan Brunet back from Nashville, Tennessee to her home in Traverse City Michigan. Pilots- Hal Blank, D.J. Rise, Nurse- Cheryl Riwitis and Respiratory Therapist- Deb Molter boarded Nellie and left Indianapolis International airport at approximately 8:15 AM.
Susan and her husband Pat had traveled to Nashville to visit their daughter Amanda and her husband after the birth of grandson Lucas. Susan suffered a debilitating stroke that left her right side flaccid. She had been hospitalized for over 3 weeks as her condition stabilized. Susan was learning to breathe again with a tracheostomy tube and her diet had progressed to being able to swallow soft foods but still receiving supplemental feeding via a stomach tube.
We arrived in Susan’s room at Vanderbilt Hospital to pick her up and found her family waiting with her. Susan seemed a bit concerned/apprehensive about the trip, but we asked her if she was ready to go home and she nodded her head yes. We packaged her up with the assistance of the Vanderbilt EMS crew on the patient cot. We had prayer with her family before leaving the room. Susan was able to touch and snuggle Lucas who is just 4 weeks old before we began our journey.
Susan did excellent during our journey to Traverse City, Michigan her condition was stable. She was just a bit uncomfortable on the cot, but we were able to reposition her a bit to ease the discomfort. And just a bit of nausea, thank goodness for Zofran! The flight lasted approximately 1 hour and 45 minutes. When we arrived in Traverse City it was very cold around 17 degrees and snowy. We bundled Susan as best we could and put on her Grace On Wings cap. Her sister Angie jumped in the back of Nellie as pilot Hal opened the door and there it was the biggest, most beautiful smile on Susan’s face. She knew she was home!
We unloaded and Susan was greeted by some very special folks who just kind of took over…in a very good way, you could tell she was very loved. The Glen Lakes Fire Department where Susan lives about 25 miles from Traverse City had brought their ambulance and duty crew to pick Susan up! Two additional members of the department on their day off had arrived to help bring their friend home.
Ryan Deering was one of the fire fighters. He told us that his father worked with Susan’s husband. Ryan told us that Susan clerked in a local hardware store and everyone knew her, they were so glad to have her home. The words of encouragement and gratitude were just awesome. You could feel the love of the Lord around us as we made our way to the extended care facility in the back of the ambulance.
The fire fighters made sure Susan was gently placed into bed and positioned comfortably before leaving her room. Sister Angie took over from there. Susan was exhausted from the big trip. Deb and Cheryl gave report to the nurses and then the fire fighters took us back to Nellie. It was a quick trip home at just over an hour. We had to de-ice Nellie before leaving and visibility was not that great for landing. But no worries we had two great pilots that know how to fly IFR! Truly a team effort! A very blessed day was had by all.
Cheryl Riwitis, NP, RN
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