News and Events

Nurse’s Chance Coffee Break Saves Patient’s Life at Rambam Health Care Campus

Publication Date: 9/4/2019

A 46-year-old Haifa resident’s life was saved, thanks to the temporary work assignment of a Rambam nurse and her chance decision to use a public restroom.

Lia Gurevich. Photography: Nathaniel Ayzik, Spokesperson’s Office, Rambam HCC.Lia Gurevich. Photography: Nathaniel Ayzik, Spokesperson’s Office, Rambam HCC.

Lia Gurevich is a nurse in the Department of Emergency Medicine at Rambam Health Care Campus. Like every nurse in the department, she works different shifts and is assigned to work at different stations. Last week Gurevich was assigned to work in the ambulatory section for self-admitted patients. That assignment and a spur of the moment decision to use a public restroom saved the life of a 46-year-old Haifa resident.

The man, an immigrant from the Ukraine, had only been in the country for two years and did not speak Hebrew well. He went for a walk with friends in the Bat Galim neighborhood near Rambam, felt bad and went to the emergency room, but then sat down near the coffee corner without asking for help. Doing so almost cost him his life.

“In the middle of the shift, I wanted to use the restroom,” Gurevich recalls, "the closest one was a public bathroom near the little coffee corner outside the ER. On my way there, I suddenly noticed a man sitting on one of the chairs nearby. He was bent over with a look of suffering on his face. I approached him and found that that he spoke Russian, and luckily, so did I. I asked him ‘What's up?’ And he answered that he wasn't feeling well. I gave him a good look over and asked where he hurt, since I have a good eye for identifying medical issues.”

Gurevich sensed that something was not right and immediately summoned an orderly to bring a bed from the hospital's emergency room and rushed the Ukranian man directly for an electrocardiogram (ECG). “I didn't even wait for the doctor. I connected him to the device and we immediately realized that this man was in the middle of an acute heart attack,” she recalls.

The test results were sent by computer to the Department of Cardiology. Immediately, two cardiologists arrived, took another look at the ECG results, and rushed the patient straight from the ER to the cardiac catheterization room. An hour later, the man had been treated for a blocked artery and other poorly functioning heart vessels were found.

The patient remained in the intensive care unit for a few days and will need a vascular reconstruction and ongoing heart care, but his life was saved. “It's weird, the choices we make in our lives,” notes Gurevich. “If I had used the employee restroom, the man would most likely have died in that chair. If he had chosen to walk farther away from the hospital, he also would have died. There were several variables that came together, and as a result, today he is alive.”