Nov. 9, 2017 – Southeast Georgia Health System Critical Care Nurse
Michelle Hollaway, RN, BSN, CCRN, was awarded the prestigious Georgia
Hospital Heroes Award at the Georgia Hospital Association’s (GHA)
annual Hospital Hero Awards luncheon Nov. 9 in Atlanta. Hollaway, who
was one of only nine individuals statewide to receive the award, was recognized
for her efforts in transporting a critical care patient during the events
of Hurricane Matthew in October 2016.
When Hurricane Matthew traveled toward the Georgia coast in October 2016,
communities and hospitals raced to evacuate before the storm hit. Southeast
Georgia Health System had to work to evacuate as many as 200 patients
to hospitals out of the path of the storm. All patients at the Health
System had been moved safely, save for one surgical patient who remained
in critical condition. Doctors worked to find a facility that could accept
the patient, but, because of the impending storm, air transport was not
an option and ground transport squads were largely unavailable. Despite
these obstacles, it was determined that the patient definitely needed
to be moved because of the severity of the storm.
Luckily, Navicent Health, a Level I Trauma Center in Macon about 200 miles
away, agreed to accept the patient. An EMS squad from Macon would travel
to Brunswick to transport the patient, but given how unstable the patient
was, a critical care nurse needed to travel with them. Hollaway immediately
volunteered. The ambulance would not return to Brunswick, so, knowing
she would need her own transportation back, Hollaway handed her car keys
to a fellow nurse colleague, Mary Quigley, R.N., and asked her to follow
them in her car.
“You respond in the moment,” says Hollaway of the experience.
“You don’t have time to worry about how you feel, and I knew
I had everything at home under control. I just did what I’ve done
everyday for 13 and half years. I always have to deal with stressors and
think critically to respond accordingly.”
Hollaway helped load the patient on a stretcher with pumps, blood and fluids
and the journey began. Throughout the trip, Hollaway stayed in contact
with the patient’s doctor, providing continuous updates. After arriving
in Macon and handing the patient off to the trauma team, Hollaway and
Quigley braved the storm on the long drive back to Brunswick.
Hollaway says, “The drive back was not pleasant. There was a pressure
in the air you could feel. Mary had a severe headache and I had pain in
my sinuses.” Nearly 12 hours after their day began, they arrived
safely back in the area at the height of the storm.
“Michelle does not see what she did as special,” says Michael
D. Scherneck, president and CEO, Southeast Georgia Health System, “but
she represents the passion for nursing, the sacrifice to give of oneself,
unselfishly, in order to do whatever is best for the patient.”
GHA President and CEO Earl Rogers adds, “The heroic efforts of Michelle
Hollaway ensured that this critical care patient was transported safely
out of the path of the devastating effects of Hurricane Matthew. Michelle’s
dedication to patient care is unmatched and she is a most-deserving recipient
of this award.”