Photo of Don Houtsma
Heart and Vascular

Care and Camaraderie: Al Appreciative of Don’s Patient Experience

Feb 11 2022
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Albert Thompson, one of our EMS coordinators, and Don Houtsma (pictured above), a Powhatan County Fire and Rescue EMS coordinator, have been friends and colleagues for more than 25 years. When Al and Don recently met to discuss a case, Don began by telling his longtime friend about his own recent experience as a Bon Secours patient.

On Dec. 17, 2021 while at home sick with bronchiolitis, Don had a severe asthma attack. Thinking he could manage it with his inhaler, he started using it.

However, the inhaler was not working, and he began to struggle to breathe. Fear and concern crept in and his wife made the decision to call 911. Shortly after, a medic unit arrived and began to treat Don.

After a few minutes with him, the decision was made to transport Don to Bon Secours St. Francis Medical Center. Despite the swift action of the EMS personnel, Don continued to spiral until he eventually went into respiratory arrest. Soon after, he slipped into cardiac arrest. Don spent a total of four-and-a-half minutes on the LUCAS Mechanical CPR – a long time for anyone. Miraculously though, Don was resuscitated and immediately taken to the cardiac cath lab for treatment.

After a long three days, Don was discharged home to his family. Despite being down for so long, Don has since returned to the work he loves with the people who saved his life.

In a letter to St. Francis Medical Center leadership, Al expressed his appreciation to the excellent team members for the care that was provided to his good friend and colleague.

“If anyone ever speaks ill of St. Francis Medical Center, you just send them my way,” Al shares. “I will be certain they understand what a great place it is. Don and his family are appreciative of the care he received, that team members kept his family informed along the way, and of course the outcome. As a Bon Secours associate, I am so proud to be a member of this great team, driven with a patient-focused purpose. Thank you to our incredible pre-hospital providers, physicians, emergency department, the cath lab and our inpatient units for saving and changing lives every day.”

 February is American Heart Month. Learn more about the cardiology services we offer at Bon Secours.


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Ann Brckett

So glad he recovered. He is a dedicated man who does a lot of good in his work and community.
February 13th, 2022 | 5:03pm

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