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2011 Exceptional Patient Stories 

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At Sentara, we believe our patients and customers deserve our best every time they walk through our doors. We appreciate and value hearing about employees who have exemplified the Sentara Commitments. With your help we can continue improving and truly redefining what it means to deliver healthcare in the future.

We invite you to read recent letters and notes we've received from patients and families who have received exceptional care thanks to Sentara employees. If you'd like to share your exceptional Sentara story, you may do so by using our online form. We look forward to hearing from you.


 Sentara patient Linda Harrell
 {When You Have Cancer, You Worry About Everything –
One Patient’s Perspective on How her Care at Sentara Bayside Made a Difference}

“When you have cancer, you worry about everything, but I didn’t worry about being in the hospital, because I was being so well cared for,” says Linda Harrell, who was admitted to Sentara Bayside Hospital with pneumonia this winter.

A simple kindness — like a smile — makes a lasting mark.

“I was most impressed when every single person who entered my room did so with a smile. They were caring people, who did their jobs well,” says Harrell of the nurses, doctors, care partners, food service and even cleaning staff at the hospital.

“All of the staff I was privileged to interact with displayed consideration, compassion and respect that you don’t find everyday or everywhere,” says Harrell, who remembers the respect for her privacy by staff knocking each time they entered her room.

 “The nurses were a godsend,” says her husband Fred Harrell. “Half the time, my wife thought they were reading her mind. All of them were outstanding,” he continued.    

Bonds are made

As Harrell’s condition improved during her five-day stay, she was transferred from a step down unit to another unit in the hospital. She never expected to see Marge Goodbred, LPN, her night nurse again.

“She didn’t have to, but my night nurse, Marge, came in early enough the next evening to check in on me,” says Harrell.

That’s the care that made Harrell’s stay at Sentara Bayside Hospital memorable.

“Everyone I encountered made me feel I was special. If being in the hospital can be a good experience, I had a good experience. I almost didn’t want to leave,” she adds with a chuckle.

What means the most to Harrell?

“They were sincere and paid attention to every detail of my care. Honestly, I think my state of mind was at peace, and I truly believe the healing process was accelerated because of my care,” she recalls.

“If the employees of Bayside are an example of the rest of Sentara Hospitals, then you’ve got one heck of an organization,” Harrell said.


  {How One Act of Kindness Can Lead to More:  Sentara Employees Committed to Customer Service}

 Sentara employee Randy Marley stopped to help a woman in a car accident. She later thanked him for his kindness by knitting him a pair of socks.

Sometimes, good works and extraordinary customer service extend well beyond the walls or even the campus of a Sentara Healthcare facility. 

Last fall, Randy Marley, an employee in the Plant Engineering Department at Sentara Williamsburg Regional Medical Center, was driving in a Sentara truck after completing environmental service duties in Gloucester.  While returning to Williamsburg, Marley witnessed a car accident along Route 143 where one car had run into the rear end of another car at a traffic light.

While waiting for the police, Marley checked on the woman whose car had been hit to see if she was injured and in need of any help. The victim seemed to be OK, but Marley noticed that her now-totaled car was full of groceries. Marley moved her groceries over to the hospital truck and stayed with her as the car was towed.  Her husband soon arrived and they transferred the groceries over to the husband’s car.

Grateful for Marley's help, the woman wanted to thank him in some way and promised to knit him a pair of socks.  Just before the winter holidays, Marley received his very own pair of hand knit socks and a note of appreciation from a very grateful woman.

The Sentara Commitments can extend beyond the traditional healthcare setting and this story illustrates the positive impact that acts of kindness can have for everyone involved.



{After Both Parents Fall Ill While on Vacation in Williamsburg, Family Expresses Gratitude}

My mom went into cardiac arrest while on vacation in Williamsburg. Though it was a horrible event, in many ways it was a beautiful journey for our family.

From the moment she was rushed to Sentara (Williamsburg Regional Medical Center), my mother received excellent care, and we, her family, felt welcomed and informed. We were given open access to the ICU (at all hours of the night!). The staff in ICU (Audrey, Michelle, Trish, Dr. Callender, Dr. Das, Dr. Casciello and Dr. Harding come to mind) were compassionate with all of us, while being honest and direct about the situation. Whenever we faced a difficult choice, the nurses and doctors were able to give us the information we needed to feel good about our decisions.

Once she was moved out of ICU, we continued to be surrounded by great care. Once alert, my mom was able to appreciate the care she was receiving and enjoy the company of the floor staff: Dr Ionescu, Annie, Emmy, Tina, Jeanine, Stephanie, Billie and Dr. Merrill. All treated her with kindness and respect, even when they had to perform uncomfortable procedures. And several folks from ICU came over to check on her.

Ultimately, my dad was admitted with early signs of a stroke or heart attack. He was placed on the same floor, and my sister and I took turns sitting with each. Staff members continued to ask about them and help us coordinate care.

Our case worker, Donna, was wonderful in coordinating with the assisted living center back at our parents' community AND with organizing and expediting the discharge of our parents. Within an hour, the staff helped us pull together copies of all their records and test results. It was wonderful.

We thank the staff for taking such good care of our mother and for persevering through our many, many questions! We were all treated with kindness and respect. We had a lot of confidence in the care she was receiving, which made a difficult journey a whole lot easier.

Special thanks to Dr. Casciello, who was with us through the whole journey and developed a special rapport with our mom. Thanks, too, to the support staff who we probably never saw, but who made the rapid testing and responses possible. We appreciate everything!

– Tina C.


{Astute Doctor Detects Tumor Early, Patient Credits Him With Saving His LIfe}

I checked into the emergency room at Sentara Virginia Beach General Hospital on Thanksgiving morning 2011 at 7:30 a.m. After some testing, it was determined that my current symptoms were from kidney stones, however, the radiologist spotted an abnormality in my CT scan.

The report noted the potential item as carcinoid. Ashish Vachhani, M.D. was the author and he was spot on with his diagnosis. He was 100% correct. These tumors have no symptoms and without this discovery I hate to think what would have happened to me.

I want to thank everyone that was there on a holiday that found the tumor that SAVED my life that day. I had the tumor removed and it was found to be malignant. God bless each of them!
Rich C.


{Patient Thanks Nurse for Perseverance in Solving Concern}

I am a paraplegic of 22 years and have had to endure many hospitalizations. One of (Sentara) Obici's Nurses is a true patient advocate. Her name is Mary Dalton. Mary's expertise has assisted me on many occasions.

On one of my recent hospitalizations, she identified the need for me to have a special mattress on my hospital bed. She worked with multiple agencies and made her desires/concerns known until I received the exact mattress I needed. Mary has been a godsend to me. Thank her for me.

Gary C.

{Daughter of Patient Praises Customer Service at Sentara Leigh}

Just want to thank all the Sentara Leigh ER staff for their care of my mother on 5/12/11. They all went above and beyond making sure she was well taken care of.

As a Sentara employee I know how much customer service means. The (customer service) at Sentara and Leigh's ER was great. The people at the front desk were nice and helpful. I would especially like to thank Kim, her RN, for her compassion and caring. I would also like to thanks Mike and Tricia, RRT, for their excellent skills and perseverance. Her doctor was also great. She was able to answer all my questions and was very professional.

It seemed very busy, and I was asked numerous times if I needed coffee or water.

Overall, excellent customer service. Great care. Thanks so much.

– Nicole M.


{Patient Praises Staff at Norfolk General Who Helped in Recovery After Motorcycle Accident}

"On 4/3/11 I was involved in a terrible motorcycle accident.  I was taken via ambulance to Sentara Norfolk General where I stayed until 4/9/11. 

The ER staff carefully tended to my injuries and prepared me for surgery. My entire stay was exceptional, and I am so thankful to have been taken to Sentara Norfolk General, where I know I received the highest medical care. 

Special thanks goes to the nursing staff on the 6th Floor (Elizabeth; Sashana; Rhonda; Star; T-Shell; and Filisha). I hope I did not forget anyone. The entire nursing staff was so kind, caring and professional. I have never had such a wonderful hospital stay. Also a special thanks to Ms. Emily Alves, physician assistant (of Sentara Orthopaedic Trauma Specialists), and Dr. Jamie S. Johnson, resident. 

Your facility was so clean, and, also, the food served was exceptional for a hospital. PLEASE do me a favor and ensure that all of those named above receive my sincere appreciation for all that they did for me. I am glad to say that I am making a lot  of progress on my road to recovery. I would highly recommend Sentara Norfolk General to anyone."

Gloria G.  

{Patient Feels 'Comfortable, Informed and Cared For' at Sentara Hospitals}

"My visits to Sentara hospitals have been surprisingly pleasant. I absolutely hate going to the ER or doctor's office. I'm the type of person who will only go when I truly feel like something is very wrong.

I have suffered from hypertension since the age of 18 or 19. I have been to many primary care physicians, specialists, and I have had a few ER encounters in both Florida and Virginia.

Sentara has been the ONLY hospital where I feel comfortable, informed and cared for. Every ER experience I've had in the past has been scary and memorable in quite a negative manner. However, the two times that I have had to go to a Sentara ER, I have been treated with respect and informed beyond my expectations. Good work, Sentara!"

– Helen B.

{Williamsburg Tourist Makes Detour at Sentara Hospital for Emergency}

"I was on vacation traveling in Williamsburg when I fell very ill. I have an existing condition that attacks at any given moment and is very painful and serious.

My girlfriend and I, thankfully, were in the vicinity of the (Sentara) Williamsburg Regional Medical Center where I ended up admitting myself into the ER. My nurse Jane was exceptional. I checked in just as her shift was starting and was still there at the end of her shift. She was an amazing provider, very attentive, patient, helpful, and when she left, she did a phenomenal job of transitioning me as a patient.

I needed to express my gratitude in someway and am HOPEFUL that this will find it's way to her so she knows how much we appreciated her care."

Many thanks,
Greg T. & Sonia W.

{Staff Treated Patient With as Much Care as a Family Member}

"Having just experienced care at Sentara Healthcare in Hampton and at Sentara Heart Hospital in Norfolk. I want to express the care and treatment I received from every nurse, doctor, EMT and clerical person I came in contact with. Each of them acted professionally with dignity and concern, treating me as if I were one of their own family members.

This in and of itself might be enough, however, I have experience with other healthcare systems and the comparisons are as different as night and day. Sentara has my total confidence, and I would recommend them to anyone.

In particular I would like to thank Drs. Derrick Ridley and Ronald Stein and their individual surgical tech teams and nurses Mara at Hampton, Karen and Jennifer at Norfolk, and Anthony (Norfolk). Most likely I will never see nor run into these people again, but I will not forget the care and attention I received in their hands.

Sentara should and can be proud of these employees and the care they give."


{Sentara Northern Virginia Medical Center Cardiac Patient Thanks Nurses for Expertise, Professionalism and Compassion}

“My family and I wish to say thanks to each of you for the support, encouragement and, most importantly, the vigilance with which you have provided care to me over the last 12 weeks.

When I entered this program, I felt weak, uncertain and constrained. With your help I feel better, stronger and more hopeful than I have in a long time.

The Cardiac Rehab Program at Sentara Northern Virginia Medical Center (formerly Potomac Hospital) is much more than exercise equipment; it is the significance of your personalities, your caring way and your experience that make your program truly special. From the very bottom of my heart – thank you for helping us through a very difficult time in our lives.”

– D.R. 


{Family Credits Beach General Staff with Thorough, Timely Answers about Mother's Care}

"While going through a difficult time and my mother had suffered a second stroke, the entire ICU staff (at Sentara Virginia Beach General Hospital), specifically Mr. Joe Kirk, RN, made a lasting impression on the family. 

Every time I visited or other family members visited, they noticed how attentive the staff was to caring for her needs, she was always clean and looked comfortable. Our questions were answered thoroughly, and if an answer was not available, we always received a response in a timely manner either via phone call or while we were visiting.

Thank you Mr. Joe Kirk, Dr. Greenburg & Dr. Ong, all nurses, care partners, therapist, and housekeeping. The cafeteria staff and food were awesome also!!"

Diana N.


{Sisters Remember Care Given to Father in His Final Days}

"My father...was a patient in Sentara Virginia Beach(General Hospital) in from March 25 through 31, 2011. 

I just want to say how exceptional some of the people we encountered were. My father actually wanted to tip them, and I told him you can't do that but said I would write a letter to the hospital about them.

I worked for 11 years in a hospital in Long Island (in Nursing Administration) and I never saw this kind of care.  They were wonderful (at Sentara)! Dr. Dobbie (palliative care) was so kind, patient and explained in our language exactly what was going on and what would happen. Kim Abrahms was a gem!  My father really loved her warm Southern heart! Jane, the hospital contact was also great.

I also need to mention nurses Mary, Penny, Jenn, Jessica and Tara, the nursing care partner, who went out of their way to make him comfortable in his last days.  My father passed away 4/4 at home (our choice) with my sister, an employee of your company, Doreen Davidson, who was his live angel and led him to God. 

Thank you all and you will always be remembered in our family's prayers."

Maureen B.


 {Mom Praises Princess Anne  Staff after Toddler Enters ER}

"No one wants to get out of bed in the middle of the night to go to the ER, but that's exactly what my husband and I did last night on 04.09.11 at 11:30pm. 

Our three year old son was on his second straight night of coughing to near vomiting followed by periods of inability to breathe. We were worried parents who found great comfort at Sentara Princess Anne emergency room. 

The facility itself was clean, well maintained and had a good atmosphere and the people were wonderful.  From the warm receptionist, to the ER registrant to the nurses to Dr Landry  – everyone treated us with kindness and respect and like family. 

As a Sentara employee it was nice to see everyone at this facility committed to excellence and I would just like to thank them all for how wonderful they were and as far as ER trips are concerned - a good experience." 

Thank you,
Jennifer B.


 {Sentara Nurse Finds Out What it's Like to Be a Patient at Her Hospital}

I would like to say that I truly appreciated Lorrie Pool, RN, for the care she gave on April 9th (2011).  She was very patient, caring and understanding. I am a nurse, myself, at this hospital and have a certain amount of understanding.   However, when you are the patient, in pain and with other concerns, being a nurse is secondary.

Dr. Delvin who reset my finger was also polite, caring, and patient. The team that night made me proud to be a SVBGH (Sentara Virginia Beach General Hospital) member.

Tammy D.


  {Patient with Knee Injury Calls Beach General His 'Hospital of Choice' After His Experience}

"Last night, I was brought by ambulance to (Sentara Virginia) Beach General Hospital. From the beginning, I experienced excellent care. Especially from my ER Tech, Andy; my nurse, Mary Ellen; and the X-ray technician, Chandra. I arrived at the ER with a dislocated patella and had torn part of my LCL and MCL.

From the beginning, I felt their kindness and compassion for the job. They made the visit virtually pain free. From Mary Ellen having an excellent attitude and making me feel welcome and making me feel better. From Andy helping transport me to my vehicle and helping get into it. And to Chandra being ever so gentle with my hurting leg.

It is because of excellent staff members like this, that make Beach General my preferred hospital of choice."

 ­– Kyle B. 

{'Spring into Life' Health Fair Offers Insight for Patients}

 Nightingale Regional Air Ambulance paid a visit to the "Spring into Life" event at Sentara BelleHarbour.


"I participated in the "Spring Into Life" Health Fair today, 3/26/11. I appreciate the free health screenings along with a chance to meet some of your staff and services available.  Thank you!"

Esther H



{Out-of-Town Heart Patient 'Did Not Feel Alone' With Kind Health Care Team}

"I went to the emergency room at Sentara Heart Hospital with chest pains on 8 March and was immediately evaluated and assigned a room for evaluation. After I was stabilized I was moved to the cardio unit on the eighth floor. I had a heart cath on 9 March and, fortunately, it showed no arterial blockage.

I am writing to commend all of the employees of Sentara I encountered during my stay. Everyone was professional, polite and caring. I would especially like to commend my primary care nurses RN's Wendy Clemons & Shucona Artis who went above and beyond their duties. They were very caring, thorough, and i was duly impressed the way they conducted their shift turnovers.

I am in the area on travel and alone, but through your staff's action I did not feel alone. The Norfolk area is very fortunate to have Sentara."

 – Stanley S

{Patient Thanks Nurses for Their 'Kindness, Professionalism and Compassion'}

"On Monday, March 28, 2011, I found myself at the emergency department of Sentara Virginia Beach General. The long day of testing evolved into an overnight stay in the swing unit. While every staff member was entirely professional and skilled, two nurses stood out to me as going above and beyond. 

Late in the day, still in ER, my nurse Paula checked on me frequently, brought food when I was finally allowed to eat, and expertly cared for my medical needs.

I awoke Tuesday morning with the most intense low back pain ever, and the mother of all headaches. Angel came on duty shortly thereafter and very quickly tended to both those issues. She devised something to deliver moist heat to my back and brought medication for the headache. For the remainder of my stay, she smoothly incorporated her clinical duties with inquiries about my comfort, and, in general, showed enormous compassion. My guess is that this is what every patient under her care experiences.

These two women epitomize the definition of the word "nurse", and I personally thank them for their kindness, professionalism and compassion."

– Nancy C.

 {RN Son Impressed with "Attentive, Optimistic, Professional" Care Given to Father in Williamsburg}

"I am writing regarding the excellent care given to my father at your Williamsburg Sentara facility.

Upon arrival into your ER with my father in A-Fib, the nurse took him immediately and was very professional. The little things, like closing the curtain, paying attention to his comments with active listening and keeping him updated each moment of the process to convert him back to normal sinus rhythm. I'd give her an 'A+'.

My father had to stay the night in room 303 tended to by Nicole, an excellent, personable RN who covered every detail of his medical history with a smile. Nicole was attentive, optimistic and professional. My father isn't crazy about hospitals, nor is a frequent visitor. He was impressed with the service, as well. Jennifer and Ally were also excellent, giving great attention to their patient.

I commend Sentara's manager for hiring those three, as well as the ER nurse and the ER greeter.

This episode in your hospital being about my own father, I observed your staff and was duly impressed.

By the way, my father's A-fib converted by early morning, and, while I hope he won't be a repeat customer, we'll be choosing Sentara Williamsburg (Regional Medical Center) again for certain. Thanks again, Nicole, Jennifer and Ally!"

– Christopher C, RN 


{Mother Thanks Staff for "Pleasant Demeanor, Quick Response" at Sentara Obici Hospital}

"I would like to take this time to commend the nurses for the excellent care that was given to my daughter during her stay on 3 Med/Surg at Sentara Obici Hospital. Rick, Elizabeth and Cynita were outstanding. Their pleasant demeanor, quick response to the call bell and genuine compassion for my daughter made an unpleasant situation bearable. Thank you so very much."

– Jami F.

{‘Very Patient, Extremely Knowledgeable’ PA Expresses Genuine Concern for Patient}

"I wanted to take a brief moment to share the experience I've had with one of your orthopedic trauma P.A.'s, Emily Alves (of
Sentara Orthopaedic Trauma Specialists). 

I had a major tib/fib fracture at the end of October 2010 that required a fasciotomy and extensive physical therapy.  During a couple of my follow-up visits, I've had the pleasure of being treated by Emily Alves.

She possesses all of the traits that I can only describe as the ideal doctor.  She is very patient, extremely knowledgeable and takes the extra time to help me understand everything I need to know with my condition. And believe me, I come with a list of questions because the degree of this accident was severe and left me very afraid for the first time in my life. I never feel rushed or like a number when Emily is working with me. She makes me feel like she is genuinely concerned with my injury and I always leave feeling good about my visit.

I'm not one who typically leaves comments, whether positive or negative.  But I believe Emily deserves recognition and praise for the level of work she is able to provide.  She is awesome!!

 – Greg  A. 


{Patient Praises Nurse for Personable, Down-to-Earth Approach}

I had an emergency surgery performed in the very early morning hours of January 25, 2011.  Unfortunately, ten days later I ended up with a post-op wound infection. After visiting my surgeon's office, they set up a daily visit to the Outpatient Surgery Unit (OPMSU) at (Sentara) Virginia Beach General Hospital to have the wound "repacked."

I was and still am no fan of hospitals, doctors, etc. BUT there's one nurse in the OPMSU who  made my visits much more comfortable than I had ever thought. Crystal Platt is a great nurse -- going beyond the "Hi" and "How are you doing?" pleasantries. She's personable and a very down-to-earth person.  I knew every morning for my visit that I would be taken care of AND be comfortable at the same time.

If I ever have to go back (crossing my fingers I don't), I hope Crystal would still be there.

 – Robert C.


{Nursing Staff Receives High Praise from Sentara Heart Hospital Patient}

"I was admitted to the (
Sentara) Heart Hospital waiting to undergo a bypass surgery.  I didn't know what to expect and was apprehensive but calm.  The nurses on the 5th floor made me feel so at ease and comfortable that my worries were gone.  I want to thank the following nurses on the 5th floor. Lisa, Ashley, April, and all the nurse care partners.

After surgery I was transferred to the 4th floor and the nurses were Bethany, Lindsey, Rhonda, Beth, Brittany and the CSICU nurse Christa and a student nurse from ODU Tonya that kept me company while was in the ICU.

I don't know how to express my gratitude to all the nurses who took  good care of me before and after the surgery. You all have lived beyond the Sentara standards. You all are dedicated individuals with a great passion for what you do. From the bottom of my heart, I will always be grateful and will never forget the great experience I have with the Heart Hospital. God Bless you all."

 – Ernesto L.


{Parents of Ill College Student Thank Norfolk General Staff for Being there Even When They Could Not}

"Our 20-year-old daughter Lindsay was admitted from the ER on February 23, 2011. She had internal bleeding and a fever and was very sick. We are in Deltaville and she was in
Sentara Norfolk General Hospital (2 hours away).  It was difficult for us to be there as much as we wanted to be.

The nurses on 5A were fantastic. All I had to do was call ­– and with Lindsay's permission –  I had any questions answered that I wanted to ask. When I went to visit her, the staff was great. It was a very clean hospital, and the doctors were very committed to getting Lindsay well and back to college. She is doing better, but it was a very stressful and scary 10 days.

Thanks to all the staff at Sentara Norfolk, a very scary experience was made a lot less scary and we have hopes that she will recover fully soon. Thank you all for taking such good care of our daughter."

 – Marie W. 


 {Patient with Chronic Back Pain Says Doctor Has 'Given Me My Life Back' }

 "I can't believe it. I have lived with this awful pain in my lower back for over four years and only went to a doctor when the pain was overriding the mind and my limit of Aleve.

Dr. (Nickolas L.) Pezzella, you have given me my life back. You and your staff could not have been any nicer to me or my ride person. Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!"

–  Barbara U.

{Husband and Wife Grateful for Care of Wife}

(Copy of a letter sent to
Sentara Obici Hospital Emergency Room Physician, Dr. Cynthia Dorr)

"Janet and I will be forever grateful for your direct involvement in twice saving her life. Janet returned home this past Friday having spent the first 21 days of the new year inpatient at Obici and Norfolk General hospital(s). On 14 January following her third electroconvulsive treatment at Norfolk General, she told her nurse that they would not need to monitor her eating as she was hungry and wanted to eat. Following her meal, (Janet) called me on the phone and brought tears to my eyes. It was our first true conversation in a couple of months. When I visited her that evening her face beamed with a smile and bright eyes.

I got to bring Janet home. She continues outpatient ECT, and she continues to improve. But none of this would be possible without your kindness and healing touch. We truly feel blessed that you were on duty on 21 November and again on New Year's Day.

I hope that we can meet again in better circumstances. I know that those you touch in your work are well cared for and blessed to have you at their moment of need."

– Peter G. 


{BelleHarbour Patient Calls Doctors, Nurses There 'The Best'}

"I just came from Sentara BelleHarbour complaining about chest pains. When I got to the hospital, they asked me some questions, and I told them what my problem was.

They took me in the back, and they took care of me. They ram some tests and tried to make it as painless as possible. They ran an MRI and cardiogram. Even when I wasn't feeling well they tried everything to make me feel well. They knew what to do. I didn't even have to stay too long.

I thank God for them. They made me feel very comfortable. I would suggest anyone go there. Trust me. They have excellent equipment and great personalities. By the time you go home, your stomach is in knots from laughing really hard. They are the best. Keep up the good work. Thank you and God bless you all.

­– W.E.

 {Patient Praises Staff for Bedside Manner, Kindness}

"I have been going through multiple tests at Sentara facilities. I want to offer a 'shout out' to Brandy and Brian at Sentara Norfolk General Hospital radiology for their understanding, bedside manner and kindness while I go through all of this.  I am amazed at the technology they use.  Thank you."

– Brian B. 

 Read more inspiring exceptional patient stories from 2010.

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