• Whitney Ratliff, trauma patient

  • A smile on her face and the ambition to keep going
  • Whitney Ratliff had never broken a bone, had surgery or been in a hospital. But all that changed a few months ago, when a major car accident landed her in Bristol Regional Medical Center’s trauma unit.

  • Read Whitney’s story

  • In early 2015, I had a horrible car accident. I was the unfortunate passenger in the car and ended up breaking both humerus bones multiple times, as well as shattering my knee cap.

    I came into Bristol Regional Medical Center's ER. The very next day Dr. John Phillips did my surgery on my left arm, and the next day, he did surgery on my right arm. The day after that, he did surgery on my knee.

    This was the first time I'd broken bones, the first stay I had ever had in a hospital and the first surgeries I had ever had. Needless to say, I was terrified.

    Dr. Eugene McClintic and nurse practitioner Jenifer Conerly were my trauma doctors during my entire experience. I was in the hospital for 19 days, absolutely terrified the whole time. Everyone there knew all of this was a first for me, and every single person took extra precaution to make me feel at ease and comfortable. Jenifer would come check on me every single day and would even take the extra time to leave me as her last patient, simply so I could sleep longer. She always answered every single question I had, no matter how dumb. (And believe me, I had some pretty dumb questions, like, "When they take the stitches out, is there ANY chance my arm will rip open, and I'll fall apart?" Haha!) I always looked forward to seeing her.

    Dr. McClintic came to check on me every day as well and would often joke around with me about running down the halls and doing jumping jacks. Having someone joke with me set my mind at ease and took my mind off the tremendous pain I was in. Dr. Phillips was an AMAZING surgeon. He had to pretty much piece me together like a puzzle, and now I'm healing up perfectly. He knew how scared I was and would ALWAYS take the extra time to explain every procedure to me thoroughly, so I would know exactly what was going on at all times.

    All the anesthesiologists were wonderful as well. Every time I would go into surgery, I would always make them promise me I wouldn't wake up in the middle of surgery. They all took every extra precaution to reassure me, so I wouldn't be scared.

    All of the nurses I had were amazing. I bonded with many of them and made many new friends through this experience. I would definitely like to give recognition to all of the nurses on 4-East. They all take their job very seriously and took the extra time to check on me very often, though they were so busy.

    The first day I stood up after my knee surgery, my physical therapist (Yvonne Barb) and my nurse at the time (Allison Buckles) sat up with me as I was sitting on the edge of the bed. The room was spinning, and I was feeling as if I could pass out. But they both sat there and talked to me to calm me down as I was apologizing to them for taking up so much of their time. I was crying because all of this was just SO overwhelming, and both of them were crying right along with me. All of the nurses were surprised that they were going to get me up that soon, but because of them being there being my support system at the time, I stood right up and was able to get a shower.

    After that, I continued to progress and bond with every one of my nurses. I loved them all, and I hate to leave out any names I couldn't remember. Kristi Kemper was one of my nurses for quite a few nights – she is my age and an AMAZING nurse. She and I bonded very quickly – having people you can relate to and have things in common with definitely helps put you at ease when your health is placed into their hands. Heather Austin-Greer was another one of my nurses I had for many nights. She was wonderful and would often come in and joke around with me. Even on days she didn't have me as a patient, she would still find time to pop her head in and ask how I was doing.

    Lyndsey Ratliff was the nurse who removed my stitches from my arms. She is super sweet and kept me laughing. She has such a wonderful personality and was very welcoming and sweet.

    All of the techs were wonderful as well. They were always checking in on me and helping me with anything I needed. I had a rough time moving my arms and they would even give me drinks of water when I couldn't reach it or anything else I needed. The day I left, I had Allison as a nurse again, and just seeing her so proud of me for how far I had come since she had me last gave me such a drive to push forward.

    Again, I'm terrible with names and I can't remember a few of my other nurses' names, but I don't want any of them to go unappreciated.

    Each and every person I interacted with instilled such a positive and wonderful drive within me that caused me to be able to keep a smile on my face and have the ambition to get through this as quickly and easily as I was able to.

    Now that I am home, I can get around on my own, I have full range of movement in my arms, and I'm now standing at the top of that huge mountain I was so terrified to climb staring down at the beautiful view below. I still have a pretty good distance to travel to be completely back to normal, but I'm getting there, and it's all thanks to everyone I interacted with at Bristol Regional.

    When you're put in the position I was in, never being in that position before, it makes you the most terrified you have ever been in your life. But when you're in a place like Bristol Regional, with so many wonderful people it truly helps more than anyone would ever believe. I just wanted all those wonderful people who took part in my experience to be recognized for being so amazing!

    Doctors and nurses have one of the busiest jobs ever and often go unappreciated when they deserve to be held extremely high. For them to take the extra time to make people like me feel so comfortable goes above and beyond!

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