Published on October 27, 2020

A Nurse’s Quick Action Pays Off

Photo of Barry Busha standing at the doctors office window with nurse Dawn Waite, R.N. at MidMichigan Medical Center - Mt. Pleasant.

When Dawn Waite, R.N., MidMichigan Medical Center – Mt. Pleasant, watched Barry Busha enter MidMichigan Health’s Medical Specialty Office in Alma, she knew he was in respiratory distress. Her quick action getting him to the Emergency Department may have saved his life, reminding her why she became a nurse and creating a lasting relationship.

Barry Busha was having a tough year. He had lost his wife and been in the hospital twice before arriving at MidMichigan Health’s Medical Specialty Office in Alma to establish himself as a patient with pulmonologist Mark Rittenger, M.D. He was new to the area and was coping with the aftermath of an abdominal aortic aneurysm. He was on oxygen and having difficulty breathing.

When Dawn Waite, R.N., B.S.N., MidMichigan Medical Center – Mt. Pleasant, watched Busha enter the building, she had not seen him before but knew what she was seeing was not good: a man struggling with his mask and oxygen, wheezing heavily. “I could certainly tell when Mr. Busha arrived he was in respiratory distress,” said Waite. “I reviewed his chart and let Dr. Rittenger know that I thought he needed to be seen in the Emergency Department (ED), not in our office.”

Waite was given the go-ahead to make the call, and she immediately contacted the staff across the street in the ED. “I tried to get Mr. Busha to agree to an ambulance ride, but he absolutely refused,” Waite shared. “So, I assisted him to his car and watched his every move until he made it safely across the road and into the building.”

Waite quickly shared his status with the ED team. The initial evaluation indicated that his condition had to do with complications from the aneurysm. An abdominal aortic aneurysm is an enlarged area in the lower part of the aorta which that supplies blood to the body. The aorta runs from your heart through the center of your chest and abdomen. A tear or rupture can cause life-threatening bleeding. After an initial X-ray, the team agreed he should have further testing at University of Michigan.

“It was scary,” Busha said. “A tear can be deadly, and we were all worried.” He was air lifted to Michigan Medicine in Ann Arbor. Further X-rays showed severe fluid buildup around his heart and lungs. “They were able to remove 13 pounds of fluid from the area around his heart and lungs, which is an unheard of amount to have built up without dire consequences,” said Waite. She had followed Busha’s journey by calling Ann Arbor frequently during his days there to get reports on his progress.

When he returned home, Waite called Busha on his cell phone to check up on him. It couldn’t have come at a better time. “Dawn was an absolute sweetheart,” he said. “She called me out of genuine concern at a moment when I was feeling really down. I couldn’t believe someone would take the time to reach out like that. She went above and beyond.”

Waite felt a real connection to Busha, the kind of connection that drew her into the field of nursing in the first place. “I am just really thankful that God had placed us both in the right place at right time and to have had the opportunity to help him,” she said. “When Mr. Busha returned to the Medical Center recently for the appointment he was unable to keep the first time around, he was not in any distress, did not require oxygen and was not struggling to breathe. He looked like a new man. It was such a relief.”

Busha is recovering. He is off oxygen and nebulizers. He will continue having breathing assessments and checking in with Dr. Rittenger and staff regularly. He is getting out walking a mile at a time and regaining his strength. His lungs are clear. “God was watching over me,” he said. “And, I’m so happy to have made a life-long friend in Dawn.”

Those interested in more information regarding the specialist at MidMichigan Health may visit midmichigan.org/doctors or call MidMichigan Health Line at (989) 837-9090.