Top left: Shiela Fulcher. Top right: Jamie Wells. Bottom left: Ashlee Rieser. Bottom right: Jan Gravit.
Nurses are involved in virtually every aspect of medicine. From admission to recovery, they see it all. Their experiences are joyous, sad, heart-warming and strange -- sometimes in a single day. Their work is life itself, from the newborn to the terminally ill and everything in between. Five Savannah-area nurses share some of their most memorable experiences. As one of them comments: "Every day is a new adventure."
Nurse Ashlee Rieser was working in the ICU unit at Memorial Health when a moment arrived to help a terminally ill patient fulfill a wish. “I was fortunate enough to be a part of a man's last wish before he died from terminally ill cancer,” explained Rieser. “He was a young man, mid 40's, who was diagnosed and given just weeks to live.” The patient was engaged to be married and wanted to marry his love before he died. The nurses in the ICU helped his wish come true and made the ceremony come to life. “It's moments like this that make the nursing career such a blessing,” she said. “To take part in someone's life fills my heart with emotion. It means the world to me to be the advocate for my patients so that they can have the best quality of life, no matter what it takes.”
Early in 2000, Jamie Wells was an ER nurse at Memorial Medical Center in Savannah. He remembers on particular night when the television reality series, “Trauma: Life in the ER” filmed at Memorial and captured on film a true medical miracle. “We had an adult male come into the ER with chest and back pain,” recalled Wells. “We did our initial assessment and I had come back in to check on him. I instantly saw he was very pale. When I inquired as to how he was feeling, he told me all of his pain was gone. That wasn’t good. I immediately called for the attending physician.” A cat scan was performed. Doctors caught a ruptured brain aneurysm and within minutes the patient was in surgery, and the bleeding was stopped. “The patient was in the right place at the right time,” said Wells. “It was a miracle we were able to save him.”
For Sheila Fulcher, one of her most touching memories is also one of the hardest to share. Fulcher was working as a labor and delivery nurse about 20 years ago. “I got a patient who arrived to the labor and delivery unit from her doctor’s office,” said Fulcher. Her physician arrived minutes later and did an ultrasound. He had confirmed what he thought in the office… their unborn daughter had not survived.” Fulcher remembers holding the stillborn infant. “She was perfect and so beautiful,” she recalled. “Dad broke down in tears when I bought his daughter to him to hold. Then I broke down. I spent a lot of time with them and their stillborn baby girl.” Fulcher cut off a lock of hair from the baby girl and put it, as well as pictures, in a baby book for them. “Months later I was at a church and ran into them. At that time I was pregnant and felt a little uncomfortable considering the way that we had initially met and knowing their circumstance,” said Fulcher. “We became friends and have shared many discussions about the loss of their baby. And through it all they have always been grateful for me. I didn't realize the difference that I made during their loss with the time, tears, and baby keepsakes that I shared with them.”
Serving as a nurse at the Rape Crisis Center is an enormous responsibility and for Jan Gravitz, it is also rewarding. “Being a sexual assault nurse examiner, all of our cases are memorable,” said Gravitz. “But, when I can give a victim of sexual assault a time that they feel safe and can make the thoughts of the assault disappear for just a few moments, that is what makes this job special.” Not only does Gravitz assists the victims, she also works alongside the detectives and the DA to provide the necessary documentation and evidence for a conviction. “When I know the evidence I collected helped the detectives make an arrest and the DA to prosecute, it’s what makes this job very rewarding” added Gravitz. “I do not have just one case that stands out as memorable. It's all the victims and their families that make it not only memorable, but life changing.”
Getting to play Santa is one of the perks for Melissa Lloyd-Wade. She recalls a very touching memory of an autistic man on Tybee Island. “I was taking care of a 57-year-old Autistic man who believed in Santa Claus,” said Wade. “He wanted an United States Army uniform, with the belt, the canteen, the hat, the jacket, the pants, and the boots.” Christmas Eve finally arrived. “He is trying not to fall asleep, but sleep is winning,” smiled Wade. “Santa came and left a big present for him. His eyes literally lit up like a Christmas tree when he saw the huge box with his name on it. He opened the box and inside was a United States Army uniform with the all the accessories.” The patient wore the uniform proudly almost every day. He was later moved to another facility to be closer to his family. “I miss him,” said Wade. “Nursing is not just my job, it's my life. If we could just focus on how we are alike, our differences will eventually go unnoticed.”
Being a floating nurse has its advantages. Campbell, a nurse at St. Joseph’s Candler, said she knows a little bit about a lot of things. “Every day is a different and new adventure,” said Campbell. “I float throughout the hospital. It’s very special when I prescreen a patient in one department one day and end up being their day surgery nurse another day.” Campbell sometimes will continue taking care of the same patient as they are admitted to the hospital after surgery. Campbell said it is very rare a nurse goes through several stages during a patient's hospital stay. “I'm honored,” she said. “It feels great to be able to be with my patient the entire way, by their side. Especially when they are discharged. I feel like I'm done my job, my calling - continuity of care.”
South Magazine and 39 Rue de Jean - Savannah host an evening of Power Networking and Fundraising on the third Wednesday of each month to raise awareness and funds for non-profit organizations. This event is free to attend. Coastal Pet Rescue is the charity for June and guests were invited to bring along their dogs and enjoy a night on the patio featuring, delicious regional wines and exceptional appetizers prepared by the culinary team at 39 Rue De Jean. Each glass of select wine will be priced at $7 and for each glass purchased, $1 will be given to the non profit. A Cash bar is also available for those who prefer beer or Spirits. Due to inclement weather, the event was moved inside to the Oyster Room at 39 Rue De Jean instead of its usual location outside on the patio, but we still had a great time! See you next month!
Hundreds of excited competitors came out to the JCB Mud Run and Dig and Ride events on June 20th to test their strength against the elements. Attendees had to endure 100 Degree heat to complete the 5 mile course made up of over 30 obstacles on this hot Savannah afternoon but everyone in attendance had one focus only - Finishing the Race! The event was once again an incredible success and 100% of race proceeds were donated to the children at The Lady Bamford Center for Early Childhood Development. The Lady Bamford Center was created through a joint partnership of JCB, the City of Savannah, and The United Way of the Coastal Empire. The Center opened on October 16th, 2007 and is operated by Wesley Community Centers of Savannah, Inc. The Wesley Community Center has a long and distinguished history of serving the needs of working mothers and minority families in the community.
Every 3rd weekend of the month, Unity in the Community of Savannah hosts free public events on River St. that bring the community together. Unity in the Community is a nonprofit organization that promotes and hosts free, family-friendly culturally diverse events to give back to the Savannah community. The events feature handcrafted ethnic arts and crafts, home-based businesses, and community nonprofits. Entertainment is provided by churches and other local individuals and groups.
For the past two years, Savannah has attempted to break the Guinness World Record for the largest bar crawl for two years now, with no success. The event brings in 5,000+ crawlers, but each year they’ve reached within 500 participants of the record, but couldn’t quite grab that winning title. Still, the party continues on, but this year they left Guinness out. The focus this year was on the people, the bars, and the fun. The goal is to complete your scorecard by going to each participating bar on the list. At the end, bring your filled out card to the final location for the after party and a free shirt. It’s one of the biggest events of the year for Savannah. Check out our gallery to see who we ran in to along the way!
Hundreds gathered for the 12th Annual Savannah Mile presented by the Two Hundred Club of the Coastal Empire that honored our fallen first responders, their families, and our military heroes. The one mile course down Drayton Street from the south end of Forsyth Park to Broughton Street has heats for every fitness level and age group. Our elite first responders and military runners competed for the Full Gear * All Out Flag in the heroes heat in full gear (30 additional pounds). The family friendly Family Fun Run/Walk allowed anyone to participate, including strollers, wheelchairs, and our four legged family members. The Memory Walk had the surviving family members of our fallen first responders walk the mile in remembrance of their loved ones.
Members of the 2006 Chicago Bears NFC North Championship team came to the coastal empire on Saturday, May 20th for a fundraiser and promotional event through the The Adrian Peterson Foundation and Wilmington Island Wishes. Players competed in a charity golf tournament at Bacon Park Golf Course during the day, followed by a visit with fans at Britania Pub from 2:30-5:00pm, a gathering open to the public. Former football stars scheduled to attend include recent College Football Hall of Famer Adrian Peterson, the all-time leading rusher in NCAA Division I-A history from Georgia Southern University, former Pro Bowlers Mike Brown and Charles Tillman, former All-Pro Alex Brown and Anthony Adams. Tillman was the 2013 Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year. The Adrian Peterson Foundation is a non-profit organization which spotlights speech impediments and stuttering problems. In 2012, Peterson published the book “Don’t Dis My Abilities”. He is an accomplished inspirational and motivational speaker.
Guests of this past weekends SCAD FASHWKND experienced wonders like the SCAD Savannah Runway Show, a juried celebration of fashion featuring premier SCAD School of Fashion senior and graduate student collections. Attire for this outdoor event was casual chic, and guests were invited to wear springtime ensembles that showcase their own personal style. Following the show, guests had the opportunity to purchase select garments and accessories created by SCAD alumni. This event was presented as part of the inaugural SCAD FASHWKND, the university’s most anticipated sartorial event of the year, held in Atlanta and Savannah.
The opening reception of Jim Cone's fine art display at 24e in downtown Savannah was held Thursday night. The local artist unveiled more than 100 drawings, paintings, sculptures and mixed media pieces. Cone has been creating art for over 40 years. After a recent bout with cancer, he decided to use his talent to help others. "As you can see, his artistry is amazing. Jim's story is nothing short of miraculous,” 24e owner Ruel Joyner said. You can check out the exhibit until June 25. Proceeds from pieces sold will go to the Curtis and Elizabeth Anderson Cancer Institute at Memorial Health.
The 5th Annual Lawyers, Guns & Money Sporting Clays Tournament 2017 was presented by Honda, Yamaha, Triumph, Kawasaki, KTM of Savannah. This year's event was be held on Friday, May 12, 2017 at Forest City Gun Club. The 100 target shoot started at 2pm and was followed by an After Party at 6pm featuring live music by Connellis and the Train Wrecks, a BBQ dinner, local craft beer from Southbound Brewery, wine, a silent auction, a gun raffle and a YETI raffle. This year the proceeds will benefit Abilities Unlimited, a local 501(c)(3) charity that provides progressive exercise programs for individuals in Chatham County with varying disabilities (Birth Defects, Cerebral Palsy, Spinal Cord Injuries and Neurological Injuries, etc.).
On Saturday May 6th, community members came out to help CrimeStoppers fight crime in the community with the Race Against Crime (formerly the Azalea Run)! Runners could choose between the 5K, 10K, and 15K, with all the races starting and ending at Forsyth Park. Proceeds from the event will help fund the rewards that Crime Stoppers uses to pay out for tips that lead to arrests! All the races were dog friendly, and even the pups could get a free matching race bib as part of their "Pooch Patrol".