skip to main content
Main Site Navigation
Top of main content

A patient – and a patient’s dogs – get the right care at Carle Hoopeston

A patient – and a patient’s dogs – get the right care at Carle Hoopeston
Reilly Stebbins, RN, Carle Hoopeston Regional Health Center (CHRHC) Emergency Room nurse educator, found herself in a unique situation recently when someone came in to the ER early one morning.

The patient was disoriented. As they explained they had driven for a long time from out of state, Stebbins could see the patient didn’t understand where they were and how they got there.

Stebbins triaged the patient and a co-worker said they had mentioned there were dogs in their car in the parking area. A “very big dog lover,” Stebbins found two dogs in a car outside. Luckily the owner had left the car windows open a bit and it wasn’t a terribly hot day, but the scared dogs couldn’t stay in the car, even while she checked on them every 30 minutes or so, especially as it appeared the dogs’ owner might need to be transferred, Stebbins said.

She contacted Carle Risk Management who advised her to only approach the dogs with the help of a police officer.  After calling police, and managing to get consent from the patient, she met the dogs, who she said were sweet. “I gave them water and crackers because that’s all we had,” she said “Clearly we don’t hold dog food in the hospital.”

But, the dogs couldn’t stay in the car for hours and days, and no one knew where they and the patient were from. Stebbins reached out to an area animal rescue for help and they came through. Stebbins explained to the head of the organization her concern that the dogs get care but also aren’t considered abandoned by the owner, and they could be reunited once the owner was well or a family member could assume ownership. The rescue agreed the priority was to get the dogs “air, food and shelter,” and went to work.

The patient slowly became more lucid and Stebbins talked with the patient about the situation. “I care for you and with caring for you comes caring for your dogs,” she said. The patient was able to give consent for the rescue to collect the dogs and Stebbins got a little info to use Google to track down the patient’s family members. One agreed to drive to Hoopeston to help with the dogs as well the patient, who continued to improve. By the time the family member arrived, the physician felt the patient was well enough to discharge to travel home to get appropriate care.

The animal rescue activated its roster of donors and volunteers to find a hotel room nearby where everyone could rest. The volunteers of the rescue went out of their way to help, and even paid for the hotel room and dinner.

Stebbins, who sadly said goodbye to one of her family dogs just the week before, said the episode shows one of the great things about working at CHRHC.

“I feel like Hoopeston is so small and I feel like people, when they get care here, know they’re like family,” Stebbins said. “We’ve had nurses here for years and years. I’ve made really good relationships with a lot of my patients. Every single person knows they’re going to get treated well. Everyone works so well together and we really are just one big family.”

Heather Tucker, director of Carle east region services, said CHRHC is well known for keeping care local.
“The teams provide the best healthcare in a rural setting as the opportunities arise,” Tucker said. “Our team members take pride in providing service and establishing relationships with families that will last many generations to come.

“Reilly displays our organizational performance and behavioral expectations to a tee and often uses creative thinking to get the job done. Reilly’s priority is the patient, in addition to the larger picture of care well beyond the Emergency Department walls. I believe this act of caring shows the holistic approach she sees in care provisions. Reilly’s attentiveness and group effort from (the rescue) contributed to perfect outcomes for our patient’s family and fur companions.”

Categories: Community

Tags: dogs, Emergency, Hoopeston