I was touched by two recent pieces in the local newspaper, both moving in different ways. The first was tragic, very sad yet strong, a reminder that life is a precious and fragile gift that we should all cherish with every moment and every breath we take. The second was very human, a little funny, full of unspoken strength and human resilience.
Both reminded me that there are heroes all around us, people out in the community shouldering heavy burdens, going on with life in spite of hardship and sometimes crushing challenges. And there are heroes here at UTMB, people who quietly go about their work, usually without any special credit or kudos, working hard and giving of themselves to help those in need.
Kimberly Westbrook, the mother of Jessika Westbrook—the teen who died after suffering a head injury in a early January car crash—wrote the following in a Jan. 26 letter to the Daily News:
I also wish to tell you of the superior care she received at University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston. Jessika was able to be taken into the hospital’s pediatric critical care unit because she was not yet 18. I grew to respect and admire the staff of Dr. J. Chad Davis, assistant professor and division director of pediatric critical care. I found him to be a knowledgeable and experienced professional who gave our family straight and understandable information to process. I experienced his staff to be of the same high caliber.
Dr. Travis Billingsley gave quiet leadership and never seemed to rest. Andi DeWitt, the charge nurse, was as compassionate as she was highly skilled. Patrick Calzada, R.N., was truly Jessika’s guardian angel and devoted to her medical care. He was incredibly proficient and seemed to anticipate her every need.
These are the people whose professionalism gave me courage through the waiting and the hoping. I believe my daughter received the best of care. I would recommend the John Sealy Hospital to anyone.
From the emergency room trauma team and Dr. Dennis Gore to the comforting of Rebecca Castro and Debbie Konopik of social services, to the excellent care given in the Pedi CCU — my heartfelt gratitude goes out to each and every one who cared for Jessika and helped our family through this difficult time.
Then, on Jan 28, correspondent Marnie Barno shared her story, again in the Daily News:
We, residents of Galveston County, are very fortunate to have the University of Texas Medical Branch and its medical resources and personnel nearby. I returned to live on the island because it was among the first medical centers to utilize the implanted “pump” to disperse medications through the spinal fluid, monitored by staff of the pain management team. Subsequently, I also had denervation procedures done by UTMB’s chair of neurosurgery, Haring Nauta, M.D., one of only four specialists in the country — yes, in all of the USA, trained in the Bertrand procedure of denervation.