In her view, said Jean Chapman, Pullman Regional Hospital is like a luxury automobile offering a secure ride into the future of health care with dedicated personnel at the wheel.
"This is a Cadillac hospital. They always take such great care of me. Particularly the nurses,” said Jean, 71. “Really bright people, that's Pullman. This town self-selects for highly educated people."
Jean, the author of the “Her View” bi-weekly column in the Moscow/Pullman Daily News, usually voices her opinion about politics, community issues and whatever might be in the news. But when it comes to health care, especially her own, Jean speaks with an opinion forged by unwanted experience on a rather personal level. “I keep getting urinary tract infections that somehow, because I'm allergic to penicillin, become aggressive.”
Three times in the last 18 months Jean has battled the problem; the last time in what could have been a life-or-death bout.
“My best friend had been here on a Friday,” she recalled. “And I just felt like I didn't have the energy to sit up. And she said, 'You're just depressed. You need to call your doctor and get some chemical help.'”
So Jean called. And the last thing she said, after describing her symptoms, was something about feeling like her life was over. “Well, they called Roger, my husband, to get me to the emergency room because they thought I might be suicidal.” Jean scoffed at such a notion. In her estimation, life has been, is and promises to continue being wonderful. Why would she want to end it? Especially when there are so many issues, political and otherwise, begging for “her view.”
Nonetheless, Roger, a retired professor of forestry at Washington State University, took his wife to Pullman Regional's emergency room. It turned out that her life just may have been in the balance.
“They're taking, you know, a million tests. And the doctor comes back and says, 'You're in shock. You're in septic shock.'”
Septic shock results from severe infection. Untreated, it can cause organ failure and death. More specifically, Jean was suffering from urosepsis, a secondary infection that happens when a urinary tract infection spreads to the bloodstream.
“If I hadn't gone to the hospital, I would have been in bad shape. They probably would have had to do something drastic, like put me in a helicopter to Spokane.”
Instead, doctors and staff worked quickly. Jean was admitted to Pullman Regional's intensive care unit. She remembered the caring efforts of a nurse who gently searched for veins to both draw blood and deliver life-saving antibiotics. “That's as good as it gets, honey,” she told the nurse as she tried to straighten her arthritic arm. “So anyway, they put this high-level antibiotic in me every four hours.”
Hospital staff hovered over her for the next two days, Jean said, as she began to regain her strength, will and enthusiasm to get back to writing and living in the fashion she loves.
"Seven doses,” Jean said. “I was told most people have a tough time tolerating two. Once they got that drug into me, it just knocked it right out."
Her health restored, Jean returned to life with Roger. The two were married in 2009 after both were widowed. They'd known each other for years, had shared in mourning the deaths of their respective spouses and years later quite naturally came together to share the future.
“We live in this gorgeous house on a half-acre," Jean said of their Pullman home. “And we have birds, we even have a raccoon that comes into our yard."
Never shy about voicing her opinion, Jean said she considers herself a feminist who shunned the feminist movement. “I was too much into the civil rights movement, and then the environmental movement to ever be a real feminist,” she explained, as if another column might be percolating in her mind. “I thought the feminist movement was taking efforts, newspaper columns and coverage, away from the civil rights movement.”
In other words, Jean is feeling well again. Perhaps even feisty, as any writer of a column titled “Her View” should be. Without her town's dedicated medical community and the facilities and staff available at and through Pullman Regional Hospital, Jean said, her future would be at best uncertain.
“The doctors write the orders, but if those nurses and aides aren't top notch, you don't get the care you need. I would prefer not to be a guest of theirs again,” she quipped. “But we have really good doctors and nurses in this hospital. We get the crème de la crème of nurses in this country. Men and women. We get the best because Pullman is a great place to live.”