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.”
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".
This year's event marks the 10th Running of the Big Nasty Mud Run, a race with 4.5 miles and 33 obstacles with lots of mud! Runners test their limits on the Ranger Bars, The Wall of Terror, tunnels, tires, mini hills, cargo nets and the Big Nasty Water Slide! Proceeds from the event go to benefit local charities who support veterans and other causes.
The Pearls of Power Annual Gala & Art Auction is an annual event sponsored by the Rape Crisis Center of the Coastal Empire. This year's event was especially powerful as the Rape Crisis Center is celebrating over 40 years of service to the community this year. With guest speaker Rep. Scott Holcomb, entertainment by Trae Gurley & Friends, and this year's Gala Honorees, Dr. Ann Levette & Cookie Espinoza, the night was filled with fun and great memories.
The annual TLC Golf Tournament returned to the Club at the Savannah Harbor on Tuesday, May 2, 2017. It’s a great way to connect with leaders and peers in the tourism community while supporting a great cause – to raise money for scholarships for students studying for careers in tourism and hospitality. Cocktails and hors d’oeuvres reception followed the tournament. Prizes awarded to first and second place gross and net for each flight. Beverages provided throughout the course. Compete in Putt for Eagle and Putting Contest.
Wine, Women & Shoes events are community events that bring women together around fine wine, great style, and causes that matter. WW&S has exploded across North America in the last decade, producing more than 300 fabulous events that have helped net an impressive $44 million for their nonprofit partners.
The Ronald McDonald House Charities of the Coastal Empire puts on the only Wine, Women & Shoes event in the area. The RMHC of the Coastal Empire is a non-profit organization that provides a restful, comfortable place for children and their families to find refuge and support as they receive medical treatment at our nearby hospitals. This year's event was a sold-out affair that's sure to be remembered!
Among the most elaborate architecture in Savannah is The Gingerbread House - always a "must see" highlight of a guided tour of the Historic District Savannah. The Courtyard Celebration event at the Gingerbread House, that took place on April 25th from 5:30-7pm, was presented by the SavannahHELPS series of monthly charity events that happen every 4th Tuesday at 5:30pm. Guests of the event were asked to bring a $5 donation or pet supplies and food to benefit local charities.
Love The Wine You're With is a power networking event presented by South magazine and 39 Rue De Jean. It takes place the third Wednesday of each month and is free to attend. This past Wednesday, April 19, guests enjoyed $7 glasses of select regional wine and delicious appetizers while networking and raising funds to benefit the featured charity of the month. Proceeds from this months event went to benefit the Coastal Center for Developmental Services, a non-profit agency that provides employment-related services, training and community integration opportunities to adults with developmental disabilities. Rue De Jean donated $1 from each glass of select wine purchased during the event as well as a silent auction put on by a different local charity!
On Thursday April 13th, roughly 200 guests gathered to celebrate the tireless fundraising efforts of friend and local hero, Don Logana, at Cohen's Retreat in Savannah. There were cocktails, a silent auction, a 50/50 Raffle and live music from Liquid Ginger! All proceeds raised through the event will go toward the National MS Society's "Walk MS Savannah 2017" for Team Don Logana and his fight for a cure to Multiple Sclerosis. By the end of the night, the event had helped raise $2,235 to go towards fight for a cure to MS.