Horizon employees save man’s life at local YMCA
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A cautionary tale about a marijuana lollipop
A para ice hockey sledge and sticks.
On the morning of Jan. 13, 2019, Sarah Cleveland was at the YMCA in Saint John with her husband and young daughter. She was on the second level, walking the track, and had been there around 15 minutes when she stopped to talk to a family friend. She didn’t know at that time she was right next to a man whose life she would help save. Sarah is an instructor with the Saint John School of Radiological Technology. Prior to this role she was an X-ray and CT scan technologist at Horizon’s Saint John Regional Hospital, as well as other facilities. After stopping to talk to the friend, she kept walking around the track, and was on the other side of the room when she saw the man on the ground. There were a few people huddled around him, including a Horizon employee* from another site. Being a health care professional, her urge to help was instinctual. She went over to the man, and saw he was lying underneath a weight tree. She immediately assessed the situation, checking his vital signs only to discover “he wasn’t breathing, and he had no pulse,” she said. While someone called 911, YMCA staff
She believes everyone should know CPR, which is much more difficult on a body, compared to a mannequin, and how to operate an AED, which she says is made for people who aren’t health care professionals. Saint John Police Chief Bruce Connell was thoroughly impressed by the actions of Sarah and her fellow Horizon employee. “Although (the Horizon employees) are both trained healthcare professionals, there is no doubt that their quick assessment, reaction and taking charge of the situation saved a life. As you know in these situations time is of the essence,” he wrote in in an email to Horizon’s Regional Chief of Staff, Dr. John Dornan. The police force is forming a Commendation Board to review the Horizon employees as citizens and their contributions in this emergency situation. At press time, the review was still undergoing. As far as Sarah knows the man who she helped has made a full recovery. He dropped off a hand-written card and flowers to the YMCA, which the team shared with her during a debriefing of the incident. *The Horizon Star reached out to the other Horizon employee who helped save this man’s life, but requests to be interview for this story were not returned.
Dr. Alexandra Saunders never imagined a marijuana lollipop would put her on the national stage so early in her medical career — but it has. As Chief Resident of Dalhousie University’s Internal Medicine Program at Horizon’s Saint John Regional Hospital, she expressed an interest in cardiology. Knowing this, Dr. Robert Stevenson, a cardiologist at the NB Heart Centre, asked her to review a case of a 70-year-old Saint John man who presented at the Emergency Department after consuming a marijuana lollipop. The man, who had been managing his heart condition successfully for over two years, was showing signs of a heart attack, as well hallucinations, as the lollipop contained a high percentage of THC. THC is the cannabinoid responsible for the way your brain and body respond to cannabis (the psychoactive effects). Dr. Saunders called local cannabis dispensaries to learn more about the levels of THC in this particular lollipop. She eventually learned through online resources there was over 90mg of THC in it. The average intake per cannabis use is 7mg THC. The 70-year-old patient was not a regular user; in fact, he was experimenting for the first time in an effort to sleep better and relieve some arthritic pain. In the end, the patient was treated and once the effects of the THC wore off, his chest pain
retrieved an Automated External Defibrillator (AED) and others moved the weight tree, Sarah started compressions and the other Horizon employee soon after started the defibrillator. They did several rounds of CPR and two shocks with the AED before paramedics arrived and took over his care. The man came to during the third round of shocks from the AED, began breathing on his own and was transported to hospital for further care. “He was a lucky man,” Sarah said. “Had it happened somewhere where they didn’t have a defibrillator, or if he was by himself, the outcome could have been much different.” After the event, she thought maybe 10 minutes had passed, but it felt longer than 10 minutes. She learned after, it lasted only four minutes. At the School of Radiological Technology Sarah instructs student radiographers in a classroom setting, but has been involved in codes at the hospital, supporting the team by retrieving equipment or documenting events, especially during her time in Diagnostic Imaging, but she’s never done chest compressions before. “You don’t have a crash cart, you don’t have the medications, you don’t have the doctors and respiratory therapists ... you just don’t have those resources in public,” she said.
All have busy days in outpatients or acute care, working with patients of all ages – from pediatrics to geriatrics. They do everything from pressure management to hand therapy, making sure patients are strong enough to return home. They also work with physicians and other health care professionals, making plans for discharge and referrals to special care or nursing homes. As Lynn’s party definition for Occupational Therapy lays it out: We help you get on with it. Occupational therapists and physiotherapists often work closely together to enable people to be safe and independent at home. “You have some kind of health issue and you have to go home and live life,” she said. “You have to have a job; you have to take care of your kids. You also have to have some fun and stay healthy. We’re all about getting you back to that.” They help people make big or small differences in their everyday life after health issues affect independence. This could be creating a new way to make a meal, manage the stairs or an adaptation to your home. “There’s a lot of Velcro and duct tape involved sometimes,” said Lynn. They also want to make sure their patients can remain active. “It’s pretty central to what we all believe in,” said Lynn. “We want our patients to get home and be independent, safe and active. Being active is how you maintain your health and it’s what in New Brunswick we really need to focus on.” The future of Fundy Para Ice Hockey By press time, the buzzer will have sounded of the league’s its final ice time, but they have hopes for its growth next year. They hope to have organizers, coaches and players who want to continue the program, and implement a weekly ice time and develop a team. Hockey coaches are certified through Hockey New Brunswick, and Para Ice Hockey is under the umbrella of Hockey New Brunswick and Hockey Canada. They group would love to combine with teams from other New Brunswick communities to play in tournaments, and would love to have an athlete that reaches the national stage. If you’re interested in playing, coaching or off-ice support with the Fundy Para Ice Hockey league, email email@example.com, contact them on Facebook (Fundy Para Ice Hockey) or join your local league.
resolved. He was able to return home, but for several months had more difficulty with shortness of breath and low energy level. Since the legalization of cannabis there has been much discussion about its effects on one’s health, and there are still many unknowns. Drs. Saunders and Stevenson knew they needed to share their findings with the medical community about what could happen to people with a history of cardiovascular disease who use edibles. Furthermore, cannabis-laced edibles are set to become legal in fall 2019, therefore more medical research is welcomed, and Drs. Saunders and Stevenson have become experts in the emerging area of interest. They co-authored a research paper, “Marijuana Lollipop-Induced Myocardial Infarction” that was recently published in the Canadian Journal of Cardiology, a well-known and reputable medical journal. “Marijuana can be a useful tool for many patients, especially for pain and nausea relief,” said Dr. Saunders. “At the same time, like all other medications, it does carry risk and side effects and it’s important that people realize what can happen.” Their article has resulted in media interest from around the world. “It’s been very rewarding to be part of something that has received so much attention from the medical community so early in my career,” said Dr. Saunders. The findings are valuable for medical professionals to share with their patients on the risks associated with using edible marijuana. For others, this patient’s story is a cautionary tale for anyone experimenting with edibles. Dr. Robert Stevenson, a cardiologist at the NB Heart Centre.
Dr. Alexandra Saunders, Chief Resident of Dalhousie University’s Internal Medicine Program at Horizon’s Saint John Regional Hospital.
Sarah Cleveland, an instructor with the Saint John School of Radiological Technology, is pictured in a classroom in early March.
Want to tell your colleagues about the services you provide for patients and staff throughout Horizon? Email HorizonStar@HorizonNB.ca .
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