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We, at Providence General Foundation, often hear from grateful patients about the extraordinary care they receive at Providence. The account that follows, about Fran and Gail Arnold, tells an even deeper story of dedication, compassion and love – not just for one patient – but for an entire family.
Thank you, People of Providence, for your gifts of time, talent, and treasure. And, thank you for living the Mission in everything you do.
Snohomish resident Francis (Fran) Arnold was in the surgical intensive care unit (SICU) on the seventh floor of Providence Regional Medical Center Everett. That’s exactly what his wife, Gail, and their three children expected after his combination valve replacement and double bypass heart surgery. Fran’s breathing tube was scheduled to come out a few hours later. But his body wasn’t quite ready, so he remained intubated.
“That was our first indication something wasn’t quite right,” Gail recalls. But it wasn’t a huge worry, and she felt comfortable enough to head home to rest after a long day. That’s where Fran’s story takes an unexpected turn. Gail got a call in the middle of the night. Fran had suffered a seizure.
As doctors worked to determine what caused the seizure, caregivers continued to try to remove the breathing tube – without any luck. Fran was unresponsive and unable to breathe on his own.
“It was devastating,” Gail said. “He looked like he was dying.”
And, while Fran’s loved ones did all they could to will him back, the specialists on the seventh floor went into overdrive to care – not just for Fran – but for Gail and her children, too.
"I started referring to the seventh floor as ‘The Floor of Angels,’” Gail said. “It was stressful and scary, but the staff eased our way by embracing all of us, leaving encouraging notes, and treating our Fran with consistent, compassionate care.”
A team of specialists gathered at Fran’s bedside to discuss his case with the Arnolds. A CT scan indicated the family patriarch had suffered a subdural hematoma, also known as a brain bleed that caused his seizure. All they could do was wait.
On day 5, the skilled caregivers in SICU again attempted to remove Fran’s breathing tube while his family sat in the nearby waiting room. Soon, Jenny, a nurse the Arnolds had come to know, emerged with a huge smile on her face. Fran was finally breathing on his own.
“Jenny was in tears,” Gail said, “it meant so much to her to bring him back to us.”
Fran still had a long recovery ahead – and it wasn’t easy at first. “The caregivers had to do triple duty,” Gail recalls, “because Fran didn’t know what was happening. But, day after day, they never made us feel like they were anything but happy to care for him. They greeted us by name. And, nurses often stopped by to say hello and check on Fran – even if he wasn’t their patient that day.” Fran spent 17 days in SICU before being transferred to transitional care.
“The staff impacted our family in ways that didn’t affect or involve patient care,” Gail said. “They brought us peace.”
After 14 days in transitional care, Fran returned to his beloved home in Snohomish. A few months later, he and Gail visited the SICU to deliver Gail’s famous oatmeal cookies to the staff. There were tears, hugs, and plenty of well wishes.
“There were angels with us at every step on this journey,” Gail said, “but none like the ones in the surgical intensive care unit. It’s by the grace of God and their life-changing, life-restoring care that Fran is back with us.”
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