John Noreiko, Intensive Care Unit Patient, Kishwaukee Community Hospital
Miracles happen here, just 5 minutes from home. The story of John Noreiko’s 17-day stay at Kishwaukee Community Hospital, as told by the patient and his wife, Kate.
We all know people who are slow to go to the doctor when they are sick. John Noreiko was certainly one of those people. “My husband is a typical guy when it comes to seeing a doctor. He always wants to tough it out. After this adventure I think he has learned his lesson,” said John’s wife Kate Noreiko.
His case started as strep before testing positive for meningitis. John is diabetic and has a platelet disorder as well. He developed renal kidney failure; pericarditis, an inflammation around the heart; mastoiditis, an infection of the mastoid bone in the skull located behind the outside ear; and sepsis, a bacterial bloodstream infection. With every new complication came an additional set of challenges.
Protecting . . . John: I am lucky to have a loving wife who knows when to take action. My fever really spiked and she brought me to Kish. I know I became quite combative with the nurses, staff and doctors, who were trying to help me, guard me from myself if you will. All the people at Kish were wonderful. They saw my illness as the cause of my distress and worked past my delirious protests. They weren’t just fighting against all the diseases; they had to protect me against myself.
Kate: John doesn’t remember a lot from that portion of his visit. I can tell you that the nurses were just amazing. Here was this normally peaceful man who was so ill he wasn’t himself. They refused to let him stand in the way of exceptional care. They were gentle, persistent and professional. They were so concerned about his health and safety they actually assigned a sitter to just be with John so he wouldn’t be alone at any time. I have never heard of that before, that a hospital would go to such lengths to surround a patient with care. They had a large team that was always there for John. How they do what they do every day is beyond me.
John: What really captures my heart is what happens now that I am healthy. I can’t step foot inside the hospital without getting smiles and hugs from the people who saved my life. As tough of a patient as I was for a while, it is remarkable how they continue to pour out encouragement every time I run into them.
Healing . . . Throughout John’s 17-day stay a dozen physicians were brought in to assist with his case.
John: After the entire team was assembled here at Kish, the decision was made that the best care for my situation was right here, five minutes from our home. While most people in DeKalb were dealing with one of the largest blizzards ever, I had a big team of specialists working to save my life. Even as the case progressed, additional specialists from our community were right there to tackle the new problems and complications. It is such a relief to know that there is such talent to handle these complicated cases right here in our community hospital.
Kate: People don’t realize the difference that makes when your hospital can handle major cases like John’s. Seventeen days is a long time to have a family member in the hospital. During that time life goes on for the family. Meals need to be cooked. Kids need to get to school. I had to work. Bills need to be paid. I can’t imagine the hardship on our family if we had to add in the stress of travel in a situation like this. This kind of high-level care five minutes away is just wonderful.
Miraculous is not too strong of a word for what happened to John. It is a term John, Kate and his doctors all use when discussing his turnaround. From the labs that processed his tests; to the nurses, respiratory therapists and physical therapists who were always there; to the doctors that had the training and insight to treat such a complicated case, this truly was an example of the whole being much greater the sum of the parts.
John: Today everyone involved in the case can and should claim part of the victory. My chances of surviving these conditions were pretty low no matter where I might have been. The team at Kish really helped me beat some pretty long odds.
Educating . . . Any time a large number of medical professionals are required on a case, the coordination of care and communication between physicians, nurses, labs, patient, and family becomes critical. Cases like John’s require highly trained specialists who can work closely with an entire team and communicate with the patient as well. In John’s case, he had specialists in cardiology, nephrology, infectious disease, pulmonology, neurology, anesthesiology, and internal medicine.
Kate: Most days we would meet in the spacious meeting room near ICU. The doctors would review what we were dealing with currently and where John was at that particular day. They would answer my questions and help me understand just where we were and where the treatment was going. Plus, over the 17 days there was never a time that a doctor or nurse wouldn’t stop and answer my questions. They helped us understand extremely complicated issues very well. I know more about meningitis and pericarditis than I ever imagined! I couldn’t ask for anything more.
John: Our community hospital handled a life or death situation . . . more than handled it. They cared for me, saved my life, protected me from myself, calmed us by helping us understand what was happening every step of the way . . . Miracles happen here, just five minutes from home! educating. protecting. HEALING