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Hospital team rallies to save patient; family called in priest for final goodbye before turnaround

LUTCHER — When Roy Borne, 80, was rushed to St. James Parish Hospital last month with life-threatening sepsis on top of other ailments, his family was prepared to make funeral arrangements.

Borne’s daughter, Stephanie Collins, cancelled a Disney World vacation with her grandchild to be with him at the hospital, and a priest was called in to facilitate the family saying goodbye.

That was more than a month ago. Borne was released from the hospital on April 22 and placed back into the care of the Southeast Louisiana Veterans Home of Reserve.

Collins credits the compassionate St. James Parish Hospital medical team for helping her father live to see another day.

“I was kind of amazed when he made it back to the home,” Collins said. “He has his good and bad days, but overall, he’s better than we expected. When he first got back, he was so alert and talking better. He was eating good, and his mind was clearer. They gave him excellent and personable care.”

Borne, a U.S. Army Veteran, has had difficulty communicating since a stroke left him with aphasia three years ago. When he came to the hospital shaking and fearful on April 16, Borne was thought to have pneumonia until tests revealed a strep throat infection had triggered sepsis.

Sepsis can rapidly lead to tissue damage, organ failure and death if not treated quickly with antibiotics and fluids, according to registered nurse Michael Gary of St. James Parish Hospital.

Nurses Lorain Landry & Tara Holley

“Medical-wise, he had a few things going on,” Gary said. “It wasn’t just one thing making him sick. Sepsis is one of the things you have to reverse pretty quickly. If you don’t, they can cascade and keep getting worse and worse as their blood pressure starts to drop.”

Part of any treatment is keeping the patient and the family calm with reassurance, Gary said.

Emergency room nurse Lorain Landry speaks in a calming tone to ease inevitable apprehension.

“If you can calm the family down, then the treatment is accepted easier and it helps heal the patient faster,” Landry said.

She said Borne’s age was the most medically challenging aspect as the medical team waited to see if he would respond to treatment.

Landry and Gary were two of 36 St. James Parish Hospital team members who provided Borne with around-the-clock care.

Emergency room nurses Tara Holley, Jacie Whitney, Kelli Randazzo and doctors Charles McGaff and Howard Neumann were instrumental in Borne’s initial care.

Nurses Loni Bourgeois, Thomas Ventress, Nicole Boe, Annabelle Vicknair, Bo Louque, Paris Lewis, Tabatha Frase, Jalene Zimmer and Shawn Keller all played a role.

Nursing assistants Tessey Petit, Dionne Williams, Lakeisha Hayes, Kienna Williams, Danielle Rousell, Lois Moss, Ericka Geason and Lottie Howard also aided in the recovery every step of the way.

Gary said the St. James Parish Hospital staff works together more seamlessly than any hospital he’s worked at. He started out as a radiologic technologist before making the switch to nursing 23 years ago to have a more direct connection to patients.

He serves on the board of directors for Louisiana emergency nurses and has traveled to Washington D.C. to advocate for patient care.

“Nurses see the patients 24 hours a day, and doctors rely on the nurses to pick up on those little cues and give him a call,” Gary said. “Doctors develop their plan of care based on what the nurses observe.”

Collins said the staff’s close proximity to her father aided in the recovery.

“They gave him a lot of one-on-one care,” Collins said. “They stayed with him. They didn’t give up on him because he’s an old man.”

Emergency room nurse Tara Holley, who celebrated 20 years in nursing this month, said St. James Parish Hospital is unique in its family atmosphere.

“We’re a small community where we know a lot of people that come into our emergency room,” Holley said.

“It makes it a more personable experience for the patient and us. We’re a close-knit community and staff. For us being a smaller hospital and not having as many resources, we rely heavily on each other.”

Landry said the job takes patience, critical thinking, prioritization and a concerning nature.

“I think it is a calling,” Landry said. “I don’t think you can do a job like this without it being a calling.”

According to St. James Parish Hospital, the following individuals also aided in Borne’s care: Dr. Anu Vellanki; Dr. Landon Roussel; respiratory therapists Robin Gaudet, Earl Dillon, Lakeya Williams, Heather Louque, Steven Guillotte, Debbie Blanchard and Maria Tabora; social worker Melba Berguno and pharmacist Diana Nguyen.