Atrium Health Floyd Care Team Helps Carry Out Man's Final Wishes
ROME, Ga., Jan. 25, 2024 – The diagnosis was an end-stage cancer, and the prognosis wasn't good.
The determination to put family ahead of his own needs helped them all navigate through Christmas and New Year's Day, but the high-flow oxygen was no longer meeting his medical needs. Soon, he would need to transition to a bi-pap machine. His pulmonologist, Dr. Darshak Pandya, told him there were no more treatment options and asked an all-important question: “Are you tired?" He was.
Because he didn't want to be intubated, Mr. Michaels knew his time was short, and he had come to terms with that information. He did, however, have one final wish: He didn't want to close out his life in a hospital room. He wanted to go home to the house and the land where he had been raised and where he had raised his own family. There was only one place to close out this journey – the home where his journey began.
Austyn Todd, a clinical manager at Atrium Health Floyd, had developed a connection with Mr. Michaels. He determined then and there that his patient's final wish would be honored. Working with Dr. Pandya, Austyn employed nurse case manager Traci Thomas, Atrium Health Floyd Emergency Medical Services Non-Emergency Transport Coordinator Tracie Silvers, and the Heyman Hospice Care team to give Mr. Michaels what he wanted more than anything else.
His oxygen dependency brought with it a series of obstacles. Several in-hospital tries with various breath-giving options failed. He would need an ambulance equipped to provide breathing support, and he would need equipment at home he could immediately transition to once he arrived.
Silvers worked with Heyman Hospice Care to ensure a team, and the equipment Mr. Michaels would need, would be there. Todd worked with EMS to schedule an ambulance that could support Mr. Michael's oxygen needs on the short ride home.
Not one to accept public praise, Todd deferred credit to his team for working with our patient, but his account of the events reveals his own dedication.
“There was never a no," Todd said. “As soon as I called and told people about my patient, they said they would make it happen. They dropped everything they were doing to get everything ready."
With Mr. Michaels prepared, an ambulance waiting, and his beloved home equipped, our patient left Atrium Health Floyd Medical Center for the last time. He traveled down the country roads, up the familiar driveway, past his old red Farmall tractor and through the door he and the people he loved most had used time and again, and finally to his waiting bed and a nurse to care for him. He was home.
Todd said the news that his patient was resting at home and the teamwork it took to get her there almost brought him to tears.
“From a nursing perspective, I doubted we'd get this done," he said. “Usually there would be a lot of hard stops, but Floyd did what Floyd does and made it happen."
Casey Blankenship, program director for Heyman Hospice Care, said being home brought relief to Mr. Michaels and his family. He was more relaxed and happy to be home where he could receive quality care and be near his family.
“It's amazing what the comfort of being home can do," she said, “and it's great to be able to make these things happen."
Last week our patient transitioned from this life in dignity and in comfort, and thanks to this team's determination and extraordinary effort, his passing happened just as he had requested: surrounded by his loved ones in the only place he had ever called home.
About Atrium Health Floyd
The Atrium Health Floyd family of health care services is a leading medical provider and economic force in northwest Georgia and northeast Alabama. Atrium Health Floyd is part of Charlotte, North Carolina-based Advocate Health, the third-largest nonprofit health system in the United States, created from the combination of Atrium Health and Advocate Aurora Health. Atrium Health Floyd employs more than 3,500 teammates who provide care in over 40 medical specialties at three hospitals: Atrium Health Floyd Medical Center – a 304-bed full-service, acute care hospital and regional referral center in Rome, Georgia; Atrium Health Floyd Polk Medical Center in Cedartown, Georgia; and Atrium Health Floyd Cherokee Medical Center in Centre, Alabama; as well as Atrium Health Floyd Medical Center Behavioral Health – a freestanding 53-bed behavioral health facility in Rome – and also primary care and urgent care network locations throughout northwest Georgia and northeast Alabama. Atrium Health Floyd also operates a stand-alone emergency department in Chattooga County, the first such facility to be built from the ground-up in Georgia.
About Advocate Health
Advocate Health is the third-largest nonprofit integrated health system in the United States – created from the combination of Advocate Aurora Health and Atrium Health. Providing care under the names Advocate Health Care in Illinois, Atrium Health in the Carolinas, Georgia and Alabama, and Aurora Health Care in Wisconsin, Advocate Health is a national leader in clinical innovation, health outcomes, consumer experience and value-based care, with Wake Forest University School of Medicine serving as the academic core of the enterprise. Headquartered in Charlotte, North Carolina, Advocate Health serves nearly 6 million patients and is engaged in hundreds of clinical trials and research studies. It is nationally recognized for its expertise in cardiology, neurosciences, oncology, pediatrics and rehabilitation, as well as organ transplants, burn treatments and specialized musculoskeletal programs. Advocate Health employs nearly 155,000 team members across 68 hospitals and over 1,000 care locations and offers one of the nation's largest graduate medical education programs with over 2,000 residents and fellows across more than 200 programs. Committed to equitable care for all, Advocate Health provides nearly $6 billion in annual community benefits.