Vanessa stayed at Sentara Careplex for four weeks after facing Guillain-Barre Syndrome, sepsis and a partial leg amputation. Her friendly and knowledgeable nurses made the long stay doable.

Overcoming with compassion

Image Vanessa Rice Hr Sepsis Image Vanessa Rice Hr Sepsis Image Vanessa Rice Hr Sepsis

Vanessa Rice was busy working as a preschool teacher and visiting her ill father at a nursing home.

She struggled to eat well. As a 48-year-old with type 2 diabetes she knew good nutrition was important. The same with proper foot and wound care. Earlier in the year, she had her right toes amputated.

Yet, for about two weeks, Vanessa couldn’t find a moment to have a wound on the same foot checked. When she developed a fever, Vanessa finally told her son. He took her to the Sentara Careplex Hospital emergency department. 

Vanessa’s condition was serious: She had Guillain-Barre syndrome, a rapid-onset weakness of a limb, and sepsis, a potentially deadly blood infection.

“Within seven days, I had four surgeries,” Vanessa says. “My right leg was amputated just below the knee.”

Education and kindness

Vanessa stayed at Sentara Careplex for four weeks. Her friendly and knowledgeable nurses made the long stay doable.

“Any noise I heard and wondered about, they’d explain,” Vanessa says. “They were always there to help me.”

Once she was discharged to Sentara Nursing Center Hampton for two weeks, Vanessa had adjusted somewhat to her physical limitations. However, the fast changes were taking a mental toll. She was worried and weepy.

“I called it ‘having one of my moments,’” says Vanessa. “The nurses were busy. They’d still help me a lot. They’d pat me on the shoulder and give me tissues.”

A Sentara Home Health nurse provided similar compassionate care when Vanessa returned home. For a month, a nurse visited weekly and checked her leg and dressings.

“She was so nice. She’d explain her job,” Vanessa says. “She also told me my job, what I needed to do to take care of my leg.”

Vanessa listened carefully and applied what she learned. Her efforts paid off: She has regained her health and has returned to her job as a preschool teacher.

“You have to be healthy working with little children,” she says. “They keep you busy!”

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