Message from the President

More Than a Care Team

by Loren Hamel, MD - President, Spectrum Health Lakeland | Jun 29, 2020

As the COVID-19 pandemic reached the United States, 27-year-old Timothy McGuire was working on launching a business with a professor at his alma mater Andrews University. As the pandemic hit, Timothy and his fiancée Lucero decided to visit family out of state. But just five minutes into their drive, they were in a terrible car crash.

Timothy was rushed to the emergency department at Lakeland Medical Center, St. Joseph. He had a long list of really serious injuries: a broken leg, broken collarbone, broken sternum, facial fractures, skull fractures, traumatic brain injury, lacerations, including his right shoulder and right ear, affected eyesight and hearing, spinal fluid coming out of his ear, jaw injury and teeth damage, bruised lung, and major loss of blood.

In the ICU, Timothy was stabilized and received treatment including a lumbar drain, ear reattachment, and a titanium rod in his leg.

Dr. Winslow gave the family his private phone number and gave them updates. He made sure that when Timothy first got out of ICU, Timothy had a room on the ground floor by a window so he could visit with his family on the phone and see them through the window. His family, who had made the trip from Florida, couldn’t be by his side because of visitor restrictions due to COVID-19.

After five days in the hospital, Timothy was transferred to inpatient rehabilitation at Lakeland Hospital Watervliet. He recalled sleeping a lot and described the time being awake as his “nightmare.” Every time he woke up, he would remember the accident and the extent of his injuries all over again.

His therapists were by his side the whole time, genuinely concerned and compassionate. They took an interest in him beyond the accident. They encouraged him to concentrate on the things he loved and his dreams and goals for the new business, rather than the circumstances that he was in. To Timothy, they were his “angels.”

The Watervliet facility was also the beginning of healing for Timothy’s parents. They took walks around the campus and found moments of peace in the beautiful surroundings. Each day a therapist would take Timothy down in a wheelchair to the main floor so he could see his family through a window and talk on the phone.

Timothy is currently recovering at his parents’ home in Florida, but time and distance have not dimmed his appreciation for his therapists. He sees them as a big part of his recovery and support system.

Timothy’s family shared that they are so grateful for the love, care, and expertise of Lakeland team members. When his mom asked the staff to tell Timothy that they loved him, they assured her, “We will. We’ll be his family.”

There’s never a good time for a medical emergency. But in the midst of a global pandemic, that timing can feel even worse. These are challenging times for all of us, but I am so proud of the way you care for our patients in the moments they need it most. During this time, when many of our patients’ families cannot be physically present with them, you have stepped in and provided the extra care and attention that they would have given. You’ve shown that you’re more than a patient’s care team – you’re their care family.

Dr Hamel signature

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© Spectrum Health Lakeland 2020