Trauma Team Delivers Dramatic Rescue
It should have been one of the happiest days of Porsha Jenkins’ life. The 27-year-old mother of two reported to NorthBay Medical Center for a Caesarean section, her third “birth by appointment.” And for once, all the planets seemed aligned, according to her husband, Elvin.
There was little traffic on the freeway, Porsha’s mother, mother-in-law and grandmothers all arrived on time. And the procedure went off without a hitch, with the birth of 6-pound, 13-ounce Corrie-Ray Jenkins, at 1:04 p.m. on Jan. 11, 2013.
Then it all went sideways, when a life-threatening complication occurred.
“The beauty of a trauma program is to have a plan to bring resources together and to put systems in place.”
—Dr. Pete Zopfi
“I remember when the nurse began to massage my stomach, it really hurt,” Porsha recalled. “I looked at the monitor and my blood pressure was plummeting. I’m a medical assistant and I knew that wasn’t normal. I got very scared and started crying.”
She remembers very little about the next two weeks, other than being rolled back into the operating room.
What no one knew at the time was that Porsha had some severe scar tissue on her bowel from a previous surgery. It’s uncertain what prompted the scar tissue to break loose, but one thing is certain: she began bleeding profusely.
Leigh Fannin, R.N., Porsha’s labor and delivery nurse, took only a second to react, calling a “Code Blue”—hospital-speak for life-or-death emergency. Within minutes, Porsha’s room was filled with physicians and nurses from across the hospital.
Dr. Camile Barnes, Porsha’s obstetrician, had already left following the delivery, but came back as soon as she was paged. Hospitalists and anesthesiologists responded, as did Women’s and Children’s Services Director Deborah Thorson, R.N., and Daman Mott, R.N., director of Emergency and Trauma Services. Heather Venezio, R.N., Trauma Program director, came up from the ED to start the IV on the young woman whose veins were collapsing. Lori Gould, R.N., brought a rapid blood infuser from the post-anesthesia care unit, while Labor and Delivery nurses Michelle Harris, R.N., and Wislise Zamor, R.N., assisted Fannin. Pharmacist Dan Ford came to help the anesthesiologists and physicians avoid potential drug interactions.
The team began to implement NorthBay’s Massive Transfusion Protocol, but Porsha was losing blood as fast as it was going in.
In the end, she required more than 40 units of blood—four times her body’s volume.
A former military nurse, Mott could tell more needed to be done, so he made a split-second decision to call a “Code Trauma” to summon another set of doctors and nurses. He has seen his share of traumatic casualties and knew Porsha was in grave condition.
Mott contacted David Grant Medical Center at Travis Air Force Base as well as local blood banks to ensure a constant supply would be available. NorthBay Blood Bank Director Rowena Vince Cruz coordinated efforts to keep the blood coming, and Thorson and Women’s and Children’s Services Manager Katie Lydon, R.N., literally ran downstairs to the lab and back to the second floor numerous times to deliver blood.
“It was obvious at this point that this was not a simple repair surgery,” Thorson said. “Dr. Barnes looked up and said, ‘I need a thoracic surgeon,’ and just like that, Dr. Seph Nafacy was there. She said, ‘I need a trauma surgeon,’ and Dr. Pete Zopfi appeared. It was as seamless as it could be.”
With two teams of doctors, nurses and support staff in the room, it could have been chaos, but “Dr. Zopfi is very calming,” Venezio said. “When he walked in, everyone felt like things would be OK.”
According to Dr. Zopfi, the key to the calmness is communication, organization and teamwork. “The beauty of a trauma program is to have a plan to bring resources together and put systems in place,” Dr. Zopfi said.
“Lots of times, you look at life and death and focus on the surgeons. But we can’t accomplish anything without having the team set up and ready to do their part. This comes from planning ahead, and it allowed me to simply step into my role as surgeon.”
“Everything worked together for us to be in the right place at the right time with the right people.”
During the next four hours, the source of the bleeding was discovered and repaired, and a hysterectomy and temporary colostomy were performed. Porsha was finally stable.
“We were relying on everyone’s knowledge to do their thing,” Thorson said. “I was humbled and so proud to watch that team work that day. I feel truly blessed to have witnessed them working together as a cohesive team and be part of it. It’s the magic that happens when we work together for the patient.”
A second surgery was completed the next morning. By the time Porsha woke up, she was in the ICU asking about her baby.
Two weeks later, she returned to her Dixon home, where she and Corrie-Ray are surrounded by their loving family, including his big brother Japre, 7, and big sister Uriah, 3.
Porsha, moving gingerly as she recovers, is grateful. “If I had been any place else, I wouldn’t have made it,” she says emphatically. “If that team wasn’t there, or if I had been somewhere else, I don’t think the response time would have been as fast—they recognized something really bad was happening.”
Traumas can happen anywhere, even in the hospital. And often, trauma patients are our friends and neighbors, not strangers.
“When I was in surgery, my whole focus was on saving this young mother and we accomplished that,” Dr. Zopfi said. “But when she came to the office for her post-op check-up, I realized that I knew her—I had shopped at the medical supply store where she worked. She had such a bright outlook and spirit that I couldn’t forget her. It really brought home to me just how important
it is to have advanced trauma services at NorthBay to care for our community.”
Porsha is living proof of that and her experience has convinced her to follow her dream to become a nurse. She knows she has much to give back. “I think about the what-ifs—what if it had been an uneventful surgery and I was in my room holding my baby? But it wasn’t and the NorthBay nurses and doctors were wonderful. They revived me and kept me alive.
“Everything worked together for us to be in the right place at the right time with the right people,” Porsha continued. “Everyone worked together so smoothly and so quickly—they weren’t going to let me go. I am thankful and happy that they didn’t get tired or give up. We have so much life ahead of us—we are blessed.”
NorthBay Staff Replenish Supply
Susan Gornall, director of Perioperative Services, is all smiles as she donates blood to BloodSource at NorthBay Medical Center in April. More than 100 NorthBay Healthcare employees, family and friends—as well as friends and family of Porsha Jenkins—turned out to replenish the supply. Porsha needed 40 units of blood during her crisis, nearly four times her body’s volume.