Doctors say quick thinking by a patient access clerk at Miami Valley Hospital saved three people’s lives Valentine’s Day weekend.
Rhonda Thomas Howard, a Premier Health employee of thirty-five years, had just begun asking patient Tamra McCuiston routine registration questions when she realized she was not suffering from the flu, as McCuiston suspected.
It was something much worse.
An offhand comment about a faulty furnace, paired with McCuiston’s symptoms of a headache and confusion, quickly tipped Howard off to the real problem: Carbon monoxide poisoning.
The Dayton Fire Department was called to respond to McCuiston’s house, where her special needs brother and 84-year-old father were still sleeping. First responders found a CO level of 200 ppm, four times the OSHA’s maximum acceptable level of 50. Emergency department doctors said extended exposure would have been “lethal.”
“You just think of what it could have been,” McCuiston told this news organization Thursday. “But Rhonda, she helped me, so I’m forever grateful.”