Every day, the medical staff at Iredell Memorial Hospital use their training
to save lives, but not usually in the hospital cafeteria. That’s
what happened though on the afternoon of July 21, when a hospital guest
experienced a life-threatening emergency.
The visitor was eating lunch when she started to choke. Nurse Som Rajapho
recognized what was happening and rushed over to help. She started the
Heimlich maneuver and traded those efforts with nurse Latreia Leach. Nurse
Justin Powell continued the Heimlich and he could see some of the food
loosen, but the woman’s airway was still blocked.
While all this was happening, radiology technician Elisha Sheppard heard
the “rapid response” call over the hospital intercom and rushed
to the cafeteria. Holding the guest, he took over the Heimlich and says
pieces of food flew from her mouth.
“It’s scary after the fact, but in the moment, you’re
just thinking about doing what you need to do,” said Sheppard.
Nursing supervisor J.R. Clark arrived and assessed the woman’s breathing.
Employees helped the guest into a wheelchair and nurse Pam Moore accompanied
her to the emergency department, where the guest coughed up the rest of
“This woman is alive today because of the actions of the training,
skills and efforts of the staff of this hospital,” said Clark.
“We are proud any time our staff come together in a crisis and help
someone in need,” said Becky Quate, DNP, RN, and Vice President
of Nursing and Patient Care Services for Iredell Health System. “They
used their training to assess the situation and worked together and saved
a life. We are certainly happy to have a good outcome for the guest and