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Juan Uribe

Clinic team, senior center director bring member back from cardiac arrest

Picture of Juan Uribe

“There was amazing spiritual power, and it was beautifully choreographed like the clinic did this every day.”

The monthly birthday party was in full swing in the Doris Griffin senior center’s dining room when center supervisor Peaches Hall got the call about an emergency. She ran to the dining room where she found Juan Uribe unresponsive with his eyes rolled back. He was in cardiac arrest.

Immediately, she ran to the WellMed at Ingram Park clinic next door to get help. Clinic staff all wear whistles they attach to their ID badge. They use the whistle to indicate help is needed urgently. When Peaches arrived at the front desk, the whistles sounded. This immediately alerted the clinic staff.

“When you hear a whistle blow, you run, because you never know what is going on,” said Dr. Marissa Charles, a primary care physician at the Ingram clinic. “We knew it had to be serious by the look on Peaches’ face.”

As Peaches ran back to the dining room, clinic staff were already on her heels, each person with equipment in hand and ready to help. They cleared the dining room and went to work.

“They were miraculous,” Peaches said. “With the leadership of Dr. (Mohammadullah) Faiz, Dr. Charles and nurse practitioner Rodolfo Fuentes, they sprang into action. They were everywhere and everyone knew their job.”

Dr. Charles described the organized chaos in the dining room. “Mr. Uribe was slumped forward in a chair. He was ashen and unresponsive. He looked terrible,” she said. “Some folks moved tables aside, others ushered onlookers to the lobby and we got Mr. Uribe onto the floor.”

Dr. Charles and Dr. Faiz immediately administered CPR and set up the automatic external defibrillator. The AED delivering one shock, and the team continued CPR until emergency medical services personnel arrived. Miraculously, Mr. Uribe regained consciousness.

Mr. Juan Uribe

As the clinic staff did their job, the senior center members said a group prayer in the lobby. “I’m so proud to be with WellMed. When there’s an episode like this it’s astounding. No one ever asked if he was a WellMed patient. He was a soul who needed help.”

“There was amazing spiritual power, and it was beautifully choreographed like the clinic did this every day. EMS was wonderful too, but it took them some time to get there,” Peaches said. “Without the clinic staff, I don’t think it would have been the same outcome.”

Dr. Charles agrees. “I’m so proud of my team. Every single member knew exactly what to do. We worked like one unit. We don’t have situations like that come up often, and it really inspired us and motivated us to keep our skills sharp, just knowing they may be needed some day,” she said.

After several days in the hospital, Mr. Uribe was released to go home. Peaches was in touch with Mr. Uribe’s son, Juan Uribe, every day to check on his progress. “I’m so grateful for everyone who helped bring my dad back,” said Uribe. “They moved so fast, and it made all the difference. And afterward they were calling me every day – the doctors, the nurses, Peaches – to see how he was doing and if I needed anything. It was truly amazing and I’m very grateful.”

By August 28, Mr. Uribe was well enough to pay the clinic and senior center staff a visit.

“We were all so thrilled to see him doing well,” Peaches said.

Peaches, the center’s only director since it opened nine years ago, speaks with great pride about the center and its members. “A lot of people come here for a shot in the arm of friendship, a meal and exercise. It’s medication; it keeps them healthy,” she said. “This is a very caring community; very compassionate. These are friends who met here and they end up attached at the hip.” Attached at the heart, it appears, as well.