Calm and Comfort in an Emergency

Medical emergencies happen, even in a pandemic.

So it was for 9-year-old Jack Crews, who woke up on the morning of April 30 with a stomachache that became progressively worse as the day went on. After a telephone call with the family’s primary care doctor, Jack’s parents, Josh and Laura Crews, decided it was time to take Jack to the Emergency Department at Passavant Area Hospital. Jack was accompanied by his father to the hospital, while his mother stayed home with the Crews’ three other children.

For Josh Crews, there was no hesitation or fear in taking his son to the ED for treatment. In recent months, hospitals across the United States have promoted the message that medical emergencies should not be ignored because a person fears exposing themselves to COVID-19 in a hospital ED.

“I felt completely safe taking Jack to the emergency room at Passavant,” said Josh. “I didn’t have any doubt that the correct precautions were in place.”

Under current restrictions, pediatric patients are allowed only one accompanying guardian. Jack and his mother have a special bond, said Josh, and, while Jack was glad to have his father at his side, he longed for the comfort only his mother could provide.

“Not having his mother there – that was rough right off the bat,” said Josh. A member of Jack’s care team in the ED was able to soothe Jack in a way that helped make the absence of his mother less of a focus. “That nurse had the ability to comfort him, just in the way she talked to him and worked with him,” Josh said. “It was reassuring for me. It opened my eyes to this high level of professionalism and care he was receiving.”

About 2 a.m., Jack and his father were moved from the ED to a patient room at Passavant, where Jack could rest and await surgery to remove his appendix—the source of his pain and discomfort.

“We didn’t have a stayover bag – we just had what we had come in with,” said Josh. “The nurses were all extremely accommodating, getting us both settled in the room.”

Later that day, Jack underwent surgery to remove his appendix. “Jack was a nervous wreck,” said Josh. “It was a difficult morning for us because my wife wanted to be there, but she couldn’t be.” Jack was able to use a video chat service to visit with his mother before his surgery. While Jack was in surgery, Josh was kept up-to-date on his progress.

“A nurse repeatedly came in to make sure I was comfortable and to give me updates,” said Josh. “That was great because I could keep my wife updated so she could know what was going on at the same time.”

Josh was also visited by Passavant’s patient satisfaction manager, Bob Sanner. “That was a great thing,” said Josh. “Bob just came down and talked for a while. It helped get my mind off everything that was happening for a bit.” As he waited for his son to get out of surgery, Josh was going on “about one hour of sleep” and had not had anything to eat since the morning before. A friend of the Crews family who works in the accounting department at Passavant delivered a lunch to Josh.

After a successful surgery, Jack was transferred back to his patient room, where he would spend a second night with his father in tow. By the time Jack was settled in his room, the hospital cafeteria had closed for the night, but nursing staff made sure both father and son had dinner.

Jack was released from the hospital May 2. “He feels perfectly fine and ready to get back into life,” said Josh, “and we’re relieved to put the whole thing behind us.” In a trying time, said Josh, each and every staff member he encountered at Passavant – “the RNs, the LPNs, the doctors, the lab techs, everyone” – was a source of positivity and support.

“Passavant employees are … it’s hard to put it into words,” said Josh. “But it’s that extra mile that makes all the difference.”