Christy Mitchell, an Atlanta, Georgia, woman who suffers from a rare life-threatening condition, had to make a rush trip to a nearby emergency room last Friday when a crucial piece of the medical equipment that keeps her alive broke down. But what happened when she got there could have cost Mitchell her life, if she hadn’t taken matters into her own hands and made what she called the most difficult decision she’d ever had to make.
Actually, it wasn’t what happened in the Gwinnett Medical Center emergency room in Lawrenceville, Georgia, that caused Mitchell’s frightening ordeal. It was what didn’t happen. As the woman lay on a bed waiting for a nurse — or anyone — to come and perform a relatively simple procedure that would save her life, no one came.
“I feared that she was going to die on that bed before a nurse even entered her room,” said her friend Brannon Chappell, who drove her to the emergency room. “Not once did a nurse walk through the threshold of that door to check on her.”
Christy Mitchell lives with a rare type of lung disorder. Without help from a pump that injects her with life-preserving medicine every two minutes, her lungs will not deliver enough oxygen to her blood,and the rest of her body will suffocate from oxygen deprivation.
On Friday, the pump malfunctioned, putting Mitchell’s life in grave danger. But all she needed was a quick and routine procedure.
“They don’t have to know how to manage the pump or manage the medication at that hospital. They just need to know how to put an IV in and the patient can do everything else,” Emory University’s Dr. Micah Fisher told WGCL-TV, which reported the story of Mitchell’s horrifying wait for emergency room help.
Mitchell told the station that she even asked to call the physician’s assistant at Emory University Hospital who manages her case — but the staff at Gwinnett refused, she said. The Emory doctor had “no jurisdiction” there, they told her.
That’s when Mitchell knew that to save her own life, she had to take an enormous risk. She had to leave the emergency room.
“I was starting to panic because the real fear of what could happen was hitting me,” Mitchell said.
So Chappell, calling the decision to walk out of the hospital with Mitchell “the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life,” drove her to a shopping mall not far from Gwinnett Medical Center.
From there, they called 911 and waited for paramedics to show up. This time, it didn’t take long for help to arrive, and the emergency medical technicians were able to administer the care that is the reason Mitchell is still alive today.
Gwinnett Medical Center issued a statement saying that “we are unable to provide specific details on our patients,” declining to comment on the harrowing emergency room ordeal endured by Christy Mitchell.