With the many advances in care and treatments, today’s patients have more and more reasons to expect the best outcomes. Here are the incredible stories of our patients and their journeys. Click on a thumbnail and scroll down to view each story.
Imagine watching your child have a medical crisis and taking her to a nearby hospital. It appears that everyone is moving quickly and providing excellent care to your child, and then your child is admitted to a pediatric intensive care unit. Now imagine trying to understand all of this when you speak a different language.
Originally from Mexico, the Urbina family moved to Timmonsville, South Carolina, five years ago. The middle of five children, 16-year-old Natalia is interested in studying forensics and enjoys reading and eating.
On October 4, 2022, what began as a routine day for Natalia turned out to be anything but typical.
While at home watching TV, Natalia suddenly experienced immense chest pain, lightheadedness, numbness in her arms and chills. She couldn’t breathe.
“The pain was so bad I honestly thought I was dying,” recalls Natalia. “I just prayed.”
Her mom, Yecenia, rushed her to the McLeod Regional Medical Center Emergency Department (ED).
Medical teams quickly attended to Natalia. Her troponin levels, markers of heart damage, were elevated.
The care team consulted with McLeod Pediatric Cardiologist Dr. David Steflik, who ordered an EKG and admitted Natalia to the McLeod Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU).
“Dr. Steflik was so sweet and patient, explaining everything so I could understand what was happening,” says Natalia.
Dr. Steflik discovered Natalia was suffering from viral myocarditis.
“This condition involves inflammation of the heart muscle, which is induced by a preceding viral infection – perhaps days, even weeks, before,” explains Dr. Steflik. “We immediately began high-dose steroids and admitted Natalia to the PICU for continuous telemetry monitoring since she was at a high risk of developing arrhythmia, or irregular heartbeat.”
If not treated immediately, viral myocarditis can be life-threatening as well as cause significant damage to the heart.
Dr. Steflik met with Natalia and Yecenia once she settled into the PICU. Yecenia recalls being immediately impressed.
Natalia spent the next three days in the PICU under the care of McLeod Intensivists, including Dr. Efrain Sanchez.
“It was a relief having Dr. Sanchez convey everything about Natalia’s care in Spanish and not requiring an interpreter,” says Yecenia. “The staff would often stop in with a smile on their face to check on us. Everyone was so kind during our PICU stay.”
Once Natalia finished her course of high-dose steroids, given intravenously, she moved to the pediatric floor. By this time, her heart damage had waned, she had no fluid build-up and her heart function was never affected.
“Through the dedicated collaboration of our entire care team - ED staff, pediatric intensivists, pediatric hospitalists, pediatric pharmacists, pediatric sonographer and specialized nurses – Natalia quickly recovered without any complications,” explains Dr. Steflik.
Since October, Natalia has continued to undergo follow-up care with Dr. Steflik at his office, McLeod Pediatric Cardiology.
Recently, Natalia experienced recurrent chest pain, which led Dr. Steflik to order a CT scan. Results revealed a very rare congenital heart defect, a myocardial bridge, which has since been repaired. Natalia will be closely monitored in the months ahead, yet despite this, she is a thriving teenager who leads a happy, healthy life.
“I could not be more grateful for this hospital and these wonderful physicians so close to home,” says Yecenia. “They saved my daughter’s life.”
The Voice of the Patient
A unique component of pediatric subspecialist care at McLeod is a dedicated interpreter, Evelyn Roman, who has been assisting Spanish-speaking families of McLeod Pediatric Subspecialists for decades.
Working directly with patients and their families to ensure the continuum of care, Evelyn schedules and attends appointments to translate, and contacts the office if families reach out to her.
“Evelyn is a great asset to our team,” says Dr. Steflik. “Through her, we have significantly increased rapport with our patients, and our patients in turn have a memorable experience with us.
“We have other tools to address language barriers; however, I have noticed an incredible difference in my ability to connect with patients when Evelyn is present rather than using an iPad to speak with a virtual interpreter.”
At McLeod, patients are the priority. Through this collaboration between Evelyn and McLeod Pediatric Subspecialists offices, every patient - regardless of their native language - receives the quality care they deserve.