Skip to main content

Hospital Staff Save Choking Visitor

Hospital news | Wednesday, August 15, 2018
Quick-acting staff save guest

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 the obstruction.

"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 her family."