09:05 PM

Caring for our community’s children

Written by Allison Meilicke, RN

While Gordy Emmert was in his basement with his son, Ethan, he looked away for a second and the busy 5-year-old decided to climb the steep stairs by himself.

Gordy turned around just in time to see Ethan slip and fall from about five feet in the air onto his back. Ethan was crying and complaining of back pain. Gordy checked him for other injuries and specifically questioned if his head hurt. Ethan clearly said no. Regardless, Gordy and his wife, Susy, felt they should bring Ethan to Kalispell to be seen.

The urgent care was closed, and in hindsight that may have been a blessing for Ethan. By the time they arrived at the emergency department at Kalispell Regional Medical Center, Ethan was crying inconsolably because of a headache.

The doctors found that Ethan’s fall had caused an epidural hematoma. Blood was rapidly accumulating between the skull and the covering of the brain. Without immediate surgical intervention to relieve the pressure on his brain, Ethan could die.

A team of pediatric specialists including Kelly Schmidt, MD, a pediatric neurosurgeon at Kalispell Regional Healthcare’s Neuroscience & Spine Institute; Cory Robertson, MD, a pediatric anesthesiologist at Northern Rockies Anesthesia Consultants; and Timothy Stidham, MD, a pediatric intensivist at KRMC, met Ethan and his family in the emergency department. He was taken directly to the operating room.

Gordy and Susy were told that every minute counts when there is bleeding around the brain. They waited with other family members in the waiting room and prayed as a team of doctors, nurses, and technicians worked to save little Ethan’s life.

The next morning, when Dr. Schmidt walked into Ethan’s room, he was feeling well, sitting up in bed, and playing with toys. Two days later he was home, regaining strength and playing with his dinosaurs and trucks.

Without the pediatric services, subspecialists, and pediatric intensive care unit at KRMC, Ethan would have been flown out of state to obtain care. He may not have survived the flight.

Gordy and Susy Emmert shared Ethan’s story, stating “To us, it is a miracle. We are so thankful for KRMC and the excellent care you provide for our community. May God bless you all!”

The vision to provide pediatric specialty care 24/7 in Montana has become a reality in the past two years. The opening of the Montana Children’s Medical Center will be a major milestone in providing pediatric care to keep Montana families in Montana.

For the health, comfort and life of all patients, the Flathead Valley is incredibly fortunate to have the quality of medical staff both in adult and pediatric services and employees who provide care with integrity, and a commitment to service and excellence.

These services are truly life-saving for an entire community of people who count on Kalispell Regional Healthcare to be there for them when they need it most. To find out more about the amazing things taking place at Montana Children’s, see the website at www.krh.org/children.

This article was published in the December 2018 issue of Montana Woman.