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Christmas light show benefits NICU

Families come from miles around to be dazzled by the Hathaway family’s holiday light show at 21 Hillview Drive in Bangor. The display is a labor of love for Rick, Deanna, and their friends and neighbors, who spend countless hours putting every individual string of lights into place. The Hathaways know their incredible investment is worth the time when they see the smiles on the faces of both children and adults. But, look closely at a sign and brochure holder next to the road, and you’ll see that this annual tradition has a deeper meaning.

Rick and Deanna’s son Warren, age six, spent his first 51 days of life in Eastern Maine Medical Center’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), and his twin brother Alex passed away four days after coming into the world. The twins were delivered early, at 29 weeks, because of Twin to Twin Transfusion Syndrome, a rare condition where blood flows unequally between twins that share a placenta. While it was a tragic time for the Hathaways, they credit the NICU staff with providing exceptional care. Now, they are giving back by encouraging viewers of the light display to donate to the NICU.

“The light display is a way for us to make a difference, and to encourage others to do the same,” said Rick. “We support the NICU because what they do is amazing. In the 51 days we were there, we got to know the doctors, the nurses, and the techs. We consider them to be friends and family, because they have known Warren since the day he was born. They do amazing work.”

The secret behind the light display is computer software that synchronizes the lights on the house, a 25-foot tree, and 10-foot leaping arches with holiday songs broadcast using a low-powered FM transmitter. The result is a magnificent coordinated show awash in pulses of green, red, and white lights.

More than $14,000 has been raised since the Hathaways began inviting the community to contribute six years ago. The NICU relies on donations, such as those inspired by the Hathaway family’s holiday light show, to stay on the leading edge of care. Donations also support families, many of whom travel hundreds of miles at a moment’s notice, to access highly specialized care available nowhere else in northern, eastern, and central Maine.

“Donor contributions are so important,” said Mikele Neal, BSN, RN, nurse manager, Eastern Maine Medical Center Women’s and Children’s Services. “We recently used donor funds to purchase a new transport isolette, which is a mobile intensive care unit used to sustain newborns coming to the hospital by helicopter, ambulance, or plane. Generous donors also allow us to provide meal vouchers to families whose lives have essentially been turned upside down. They are so appreciative for the support.”
The 2017 Hathaway holiday light show can be viewed between 4:30 and 9:30 pm until December 26.

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Mercy nurse saves jogger's life


“The nurse in me knows there is a powerful message to share.”

Matt-Erika-(1-of-1).jpgThis is why Erika Nielsen Sieber, RN, is speaking out about the events that unfolded on Wednesday, November 8—a day she will never forget. It started out like any ordinary day on the Telemetry/Progressive Care Unit where Erika works as a registered nurse at Mercy Hospital’s State Street campus. She did some managerial tasks, and then did something she doesn’t typically do—she left the unit to participate in an interview at the Fore River Campus. “It is a rarity I ever go to that campus. By rare I mean once or twice per year,” she said. Initially, Erika was going to take the shuttle bus between the two campuses, but decided to take her car instead. That was another choice that steered her toward a fateful encounter that would change her life forever and the life of another. 

Erika was walking to her car along Spring Street and talking to her husband on her cell phone when a woman driving a car started frantically waving at her and pointing down the street. “This caught my attention,” she recalled. “I looked up and immediately saw a man down on the ground on the sidewalk with two women standing over him. I told my husband I had to go and ran up to the scene.”

As Erika approached, she noticed the man lying on the ground had greyish looking skin, wasn’t breathing, and had blood on his face. Two women were standing over him. “Did anybody see him fall?” Erika asked as she checked for a pulse and then began CPR.

At this same time, Matthew Magill, a security guard at Mercy Hospital, was approached by a woman. “She told me a man fell up the street and that a nurse was doing CPR and asking for help,” Matt recalled. He ran to help. Erika was doing compressions when he arrived and offered to assist. Erika let Matt take over administering CPR so she could explain the situation to an EMS crew that had just arrived on scene. “I looked into the eyes of this man. I can’t quite express the emotions I was feeling, but it was overwhelming, to say the least,” she recalled as she watched the EMS workers do their amazing work to save this man’s life. “They put the pads on him and immediately I heard, ‘shock advised.’ I thought, wow, this guy has a shockable rhythm! This is a good thing; I thought, maybe this guy has a chance,” she explained.

The EMS crew took the man to the hospital and Erika continued on her way to Mercy’s Fore River Campus. She couldn’t help but wonder if the man survived. The next day, the EMS workers tracked Erika down and told her the good news that the man had made it through!  

The man, who wishes only to be identified as John, his wife, and their nine-year-old son asked to meet Erika after hearing what she had done. She gladly accepted the invitation. She was in disbelief when she saw him. “I was overwhelmed with emotion and amazement that I was talking to this man that had come so close to death just four days prior. We talked for about an hour, realizing how incredibly miraculous and magical this life can be. It was truly awesome to meet this family!”

John, who is 42, is an avid runner. He had been out for a jog that day but decided to veer from his usual route around the Old Port to get a “hill run” in around Mercy. “I’ll never have enough opportunities to thank Erika, Matt, and everyone else who saved my life that day,” said John. “They’ve given me the greatest gift—more  time on this earth with my son and wife.”

Matt was glad that he was able to play a role. “It just goes to show that as healthcare employees, our compassion, service, and desire to help others doesn't stop at the property lines of Mercy. It truly does extend out into the community. I won't forget this situation anytime soon—it’s a great feeling.”

Erika believes that there was a reason she was there that day. “No matter what your personal beliefs may be, something miraculous happened for this man and his family, and for that I’m thankful beyond words,” she said. She encourages everyone to learn how to perform CPR because in this case, it was the difference between life and death for a man who was lucky that Erika happened to be walking down the street when he needed her.

Find where CPR and First Aid courses are being offered near you:
http://ahainstructornetwork.americanheart.org/AHAECC/classConnector.jsp?pid=ahaecc.classconnector.home

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Droids and Stormtroopers invade the Pediatric Unit

A green minivan pulled up to the front entrance of Eastern Maine Medical Center transporting unusual cargo. Paul Bussiere hopped out of his van, popped the hatchback, and pulled out two giant storage tubs full of electronics. Strapped down in the back of the vehicle was a headless R2-D2 replica droid that is nearly impossible to distinguish from the original. “There’s a dent right there, R2 is taking a pounding through all the movies,” Paul explained as he checked out his creation with the critical eye of a meticulous inventor. It’s his mission to bring smiles to children’s faces. He not only shows up at movie theaters with his replica droid, but at hospitals too. He asked for help unloading the 200-pound body section of the replica R2-D2. Then he brought it to a corner of the lobby at Eastern Maine Medical Center to begin assembling it.

Once the unit was entirely assembled, it sprang to life. It chirped and buzzed, lights flashed, and then it rolled towards the elevator as Paul guided it by remote control. In the Pediatric Unit on the eighth floor, Nate Olson had no idea what was coming. The 10-year old was at Eastern Maine Medical Center recovering from a knee injury. As R2-D2 came rolling in, Nate couldn’t help but smile. “He’s definitely cool,” said Nate, “It looks like the real R2.”

DSC_0040.JPGBetsy Philbrick,CCLS, a child life specialist at Eastern Maine Medical Center, helped coordinate the visit. “Part of what we do is to try and make it easier for a child to be in a hospital setting,” she said. “That includes supporting children through medical procedures and sometimes it can even include assisting with visits from special guests like R2-D2.” Paul knows how to play to the crowd. He spun R2-D2’s head around, played sound effects and music, and flashed lights. A steady flow of staff and patients crowded around to take pictures. “It’s awesome because the last thing they’re expecting to see is R2-D2 showing up. So, the reactions are a lot of fun to watch, not only from the patients but also from the staff,” Paul said.

Paul’s R2-D2 wasn’t the only visitor from a distant galaxy far far away. Josh Sanders who is an employee in Information Systems at Eastern Maine Medical Center also decided to suit up in his replica Stormtrooper costume and get in on the fun. He and Paul are neighbors and often attend the same events. “Feel better or feel the wrath of the dark side,” Josh joked as he tried to stay in character. “Join the empire; we have cookies,” he said. Stormtrooper Josh also posed for photos with some of the kids on the pediatric ward.

Both Josh and Paul attended the premiere of the latest installment of the Star Wars Franchise The Last Jedi, which was released in theaters last week. Paul and his R2-D2 spent the night posing for photographs and accepted donations for the EMHS Children's Miracle Network Hospitals. All in a day’s work for a little droid that brings smiles wherever it goes.