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Focus: A Life-Saving Trip Down the Street

Looking back, Marie Martins says she was in denial. Her worsening shortness of breath and new dry cough could no longer be dismissed as an allergy or summer cold. Her family had been urging her to go down the street to the Adventist HealthCare Germantown Emergency Center at Germantown, but it wasn't until Marie could barely breathe after a flight of steps that she finally focused on her health and relented - and not a moment too soon.

"I'm not going," Marie had repeatedly said. "This isn't an emergency." But when Marie eventually arrived at the nearby Adventist HealthCare Germantown Emergency Center at Germantown, an examination and an ultrasound (conducted right at the Center) convinced physicians it was indeed an emergency, and a serious one.

Marie was in the midst of a pulmonary embolism; both her lungs were filled with life-threatening clots that made it nearly impossible for her to breathe. She was quickly transported to Shady Grove, brought into a ready and waiting private room, and treated with blood thinners to dissolve the clots.

Marie was in the hospital for eight days of treatments and blood tests. She realized only then how perilous her condition had been. Surviving blood clots such as hers is, in fact, extremely rare. "It dawned on me how close I had come," she says. "But I had thought it wasn't anything serious."

Key to Marie's rapid treatment was the close communication between the Emergency Center and the Hospital, and of course the Emergency Center's convenient location and capabilities. "I am so very lucky that it was just down the street from me and fully staffed and equipped to deal with an illness so grave," Marie says. "Anything you might need before you go to the hospital they had, and when the hospital is necessary, it's only a few miles away."

How do you know when a condition is a real emergency? For Marie, the lesson is: don't waste time focusing on the question. "You should go!"

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