"Welcome Home, Mr. Betts;" From emergency surgery to healthy once again
Elizabeth City resident Lloyd Betts remembers his wife teasing him one January night when he said he’d need to go home instead of helping her take down holiday decorations at his daughter’s restaurant.
“She said, ‘oh you’ll do anything to get out of work, won’t you?!’. I had started to feel so sick to my stomach,” says the 67-year-old. “My son came and drove me home. In the morning, I was still in so much pain that I asked my wife to take me to the emergency room.”
The staff at Sentara Albemarle Medical Center took immediate action after greeting Lloyd, ordering a CT scan and identifying a perforation in his colon. They contacted Dr. Baogang “Charles” Liu, the surgeon on-call, and he asked the operating room staff to prep for emergency surgery.
“We pushed Mr. Betts straight to the OR without delay,” remembers Dr. Liu.
Lloyd was experiencing mesenteric ischemia, in which his intestines were being deprived of oxygen, a condition that can be fatal if not treated properly. Dr. Liu successfully performed surgery, removing about two thirds of Lloyd’s colon and the next day, 18 inches of his small intestines.
The ICU team, under the direction of Dr. Daniel Mulcrone, an anesthesiologist who also serves as ICU medical director, monitored Lloyd closely in the days to come. Sepsis, a blood infection that causes organs to shutdown, was the team’s biggest worry.
“Mr. Betts was as sick as you can get. We had been concerned that this wasn’t a survivable condition,” says Dr. Mulcrone. “With lots of teamwork, we persevered.”
“Everyone in the ICU was so good about communicating with the doctors and my family; I can’t remember all their names, but they were just amazing,” says Lloyd.
He also experienced heart problems, including atrial fibrillation, an irregular heartbeat that can lead to stroke, heart failures and other life-threatening problems, and two holes had developed in Mr. Betts’ heart. After his surgeries at Sentara Albemarle Medical Center, Lloyd went to Sentara Heart Hospital in April to close the two holes.
“After that, and with a second stay in between at Sentara Albemarle to be treated for heart failure and pneumonia, I was almost ready to have ‘Philip,’ my bag that filled with waste because of the first surgery, taken out with a colostomy reversal,” says Lloyd with a laugh. “But I first had to have a procedure called cardioversion to get my heart back in rhythm and to wait a bit. Dr. Liu finally then said I was healthy enough. The staff treated me like family. They hung up a ‘Welcome Home, Mr. Betts’ sign for me. It was my third stay in ICU.”
While Lloyd did well immediately after the surgery, another problem was identified five days later, and he was rushed to Sentara Norfolk General Hospital.
“A hole in my vessel wall was fixed that time,” Lloyd explains. “Since then I did have pneumonia, but for months now I’ve been healthy, and I can’t thank everyone enough for all they’ve done.”
“The interdisciplinary collaboration at Sentara Albemarle between the emergency department, the surgeon on-call, the OR team ad the ICU team was also extended to inter-facility collaboration throughout Sentara Healthcare,” says Dr. Mulcrone about Lloyd’s care throughout the year. “We’re so fortunate to have these pockets of expertise everywhere at Sentara.”