It was a busy morning in the lobby of Greenville Memorial Hospital. Chaplain Patrick Jinks was in his office when he heard someone screaming for help. As he darted toward the front door, a father came rushing in and handed over his limp, lifeless child.
Patrick knew he could get the non-responsive girl to help faster than he could call help to the site, so he took off running toward the emergency department.
“I have a 4-year-old myself, and she was about that size. She wasn’t breathing effectively. As I was running down the hall, I told her to stay with me, that we were getting her help. Somewhere along the way, one of the patient registration folks began to run along with me, opening doors.”
He took her straight to the resuscitation room and began CPR.
“There are many people who make Greenville Memorial a special place, all sorts of people who make a difference in all sorts of ways,” said Mike Ramirez, nurse manager at Prisma Health Children’s Emergency. “Today, I got to witness one of those in action.”
Mike watched Patrick put the child down on the bed and “start beautiful, textbook chest compressions while the team swarmed round the child and took over, allowing him to step away to catch his breath. It is something I will never forget. He is a model of the team member who runs toward others in crisis — zero hesitation. I had seen him do it metaphorically in the past. Now I have seen him do it literally.”
On a typical day, Patrick rounds through the clinical areas of the 160-bed Children’s Hospital — the pediatric ICU, the neonatal ICU, general medical floors, pediatric oncology, the ER. He supports staff after critical events and patients or families suffering emotional distress with a new diagnosis. “That could mean sitting with a family, being present, just letting them know that someone is there and able to listen if they need it,” he said.
He later learned the girl had been in a home environment that was not safe and had been exposed to fentanyl. They had taken her to the ICU and intubated her.
Patrick had never done CPR on a real person. It had been a decade since his training, required for the summer camps where he worked with children. It was a profoundly emotional experience.
“I didn’t do anything extraordinary. We have nurses and doctors who literally do this every day,” he said. “I came back on Monday and visited her. We had a tea party together on the PICU. To go from compressions on a child whose heart had stopped to playing tea party on the floor a few days later … ” He paused, even months later subdued by the emotions of the experience.
“I want (patients) to always have someone to walk with them, to offer emotional support, spiritual care. Sometimes it’s as simple as providing a cup of water or sitting with a child so the parents can take a break. Sometimes it’s playing tea party on the floor of the PICU.”
“Sometimes doing this job, I realize just how broken this world can be,” he said. “Being able to hold the good and bad together is important. That’s just the nature of our work — literally, life and death can be right next door to each other. Finding that balance between allowing yourself to be opened up to potentially experience hurt but at the same time recognize it’s not always my thing to fix … that is the challenge.”
He finds meaning in his work through his own purpose: To never let a family go through hard things alone. “I want them to always have someone to walk with them, to offer emotional support, spiritual care. Sometimes it’s as simple as providing a cup of water or sitting with a child so the parents can take a break. Sometimes it’s playing tea party on the floor of the PICU.”
By Traci Quinn
This story is reprinted with permission from Prisma Health.