Patients Says PDH Nurses Saved His Life

Thursday, 17 November 2016
Portland District Health patient Jim Ralph had good reason to make a recent trip to the hospital to say thanks to nurses.

They saved my life, he says.

Mr Ralph, who has just turned 75, has had a year he’d sooner forget when it comes to bad health.

For the past six months I’ve been having trouble, he said.

He spent 15 days in Geelong hospital after having his gallbladder removed

I had very bad pains in my chest and have had previous heart troubles but the blood test showed I hadn’t had a heart attack, he said.

He was flown to Geelong where it was discovered a gallbladder problem was causing the pain and an operation was needed. However, because he was on blood thinner medication they had to wait and Mr Ralph returned to Portland before going back to Geelong for the operation.

They took it out and said it was one of the worst they'd seen, Mr Ralph said.

The complications continued as Mr Ralph remained in hospital 15 days when blood tests showed he had an infection.

He returned home to Portland but it wasn’t long before he started feeling sick.

Tests at PDH showed there was blood in his stomach and after a CT scan found he had an abscess, he was returned to Geelong.

Another 10 day stint in Geelong hospital followed before he returned to Portland with a drain and a bag attached to remove pus from the abscess.

After they took out the drain I started to get really sick, Mr Ralph said. I couldn't breath and I passed out. I was gone.

He was rushed to PDH and Mr Ralph's wife Janice and two daughters were called to the hospital. The doctor said they didn't think they could save me; you'd better come to the hospital, he recalled.

He had developed fluid in his lungs but nurses led by north ward nursing unit manager Janice Baynes attached him to a BiPAP machine, a non-invasive ventilator which helped to inflate his lungs and remove the fluid.

Here I am; living proof that they did the right thing and saved me, Mr Ralph said.

I woke up and my wife and daughters were crying and I said, what's wrong with you, I'm all right.

Without that machine I was dead.

Four weeks after another operation in Geelong to remove the abscess, Mr Ralph returned to PDH to personally thank the local nurses.

I just said I'd be dead without them. I think they appreciated it. It's only a small hospital, but they're on the ball.

He was also impressed by the visiting District Nurses who cared for him at home.

Mr Ralph says the care at PDH couldn't be matched and he's now returning to good health, although he has dropped from 84 to 66kgs.

I'm feeling really good. I'm up and about and starting to do things again. I'm better than I've been for six months.

Ms Baynes said Mr Ralph had been admitted and became acutely short of breath which rapidly progressed to an unconscious state and led to a code blue emergency response.

He had an acute pulmonary oedema episode which means a rapid build-up of fluid in the lungs, she said.

Resuscitation consisted of oxygenation and airway maintenance, the use of intravenous medications to decrease the fluid and once rousable the use of a BiPAP machine to assist his breathing and help disperse the fluid from his lungs. BiPAP or CPAP is a machine that provides positive ventilatory pressure to help open up the lungs for better oxygen transfer in the body.

After several hours of BiPAP and continued medication infusions, Ms Baynes said Mr Ralph was awake and giving cheek again.

He was transferred to Geelong the following day for further investigations and cardiac care.

James walked himself up the stairs and into the ward last week to thank the nurses for saving his life, Ms Baynes said. We were all very happy to see him looking so well and active.

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