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Medical assistant makes a potentially life-saving catch

December 06, 2016
by Barbara Steinberger

After undergoing triple bypass surgery in August, Robert T. Carlson regularly experienced pain in his chest as part of the recovery process. So when he complained of chest pain during a recent follow-up visit at the Heart and Vascular Center in the Yale Physicians Building, it didn’t seem out of the ordinary.

But Medical Assistant Courtney Hood noticed that this time, something was different. Carlson was experiencing shortness of breath and nausea, and he said that his pain level was a 10 on a scale of zero to 10. Hood notified her supervisor, Nurse Manager Renande Jean-Noel. They called 911 and comforted Carlson while they waited for paramedics to take him to Yale New Haven Hospital.

Carlson, 57, was found to have a pulmonary embolism (a blood clot in his lung), which could have been fatal if left untreated. He credits Hood and Jean-Noel with saving his life.

“She (Hood) has really gotten to know me. So, even though I had chest pains before, she could tell that this was different,” Carlson says. “She just stepped right up and did what she needed to do. I am beyond grateful.”

On his next visit, Carlson asked to see Hood so he could thank her, and the two had an emotional reunion. “He was crying. He said ‘You guys saved my life. If it wasn’t for you I wouldn’t be here,’” Hood recalls. “I gave him a big hug.”

Jean-Noel said she always tells her staff to trust their instincts—and in this case, Hood’s instincts may have saved a patient’s life.

“It was very rewarding,” Hood says of the experience. “That’s why we’re here.”

Submitted by Mark Santore on December 02, 2016