April Williams Goes Above and Beyond - A CRMC Tale of Care
Phlebotomy Supervisor April Williams
The letter came from nearly 1,000 miles away, written by a woman who had never stepped foot in the hospital, but whose family was deeply touched by the act of one caring staff member. Capital Regional Medical Center's Chief Executive Officer Alan Keesee said he receives many letters from patients and family members who praise staff and physicians for the care they received at the hospital, but this letter 'floored' him when he read of the extraordinary steps taken by the laboratory's Phlebotomy Supervisor April Williams.
The Bove family of Carol Stream, Illinois, was going through a life-changing crises. Mr. Bove had received a diagnosis of multiple myeloma, an aggressive form of blood cancer, in March 2018. That diagnosis began an intense process of treatment that would ultimately include two stem cell transplants performed in a university medical center setting in Chicago. The first transplant was 'self to self,' meaning Mr. Bove was his own donor. But the second required a search for a match and that's when Mrs. Bove reached out to Capital Regional for help.
"This was in October of 2018," said Mrs. Bove. "My brother-in-law was supposed to be tested, but as a firefighter and paramedic who worked with FEMA, he was sent to Tallahassee to help with the aftermath of Hurricane Michael. I had no idea how complicated and time consuming the testing process was and with him in Florida we were at a loss." Mrs. Bove, who has a background in healthcare, said she decided to try to reach a hospital close to where her brother-in-law was stationed and ask for help. As it turned out, a google map search showed he was nearest to Capital Regional. "I called the hospital and asked to speak to a supervisor in the Lab," said Mrs. Bove. "I was transferred to April Williams, who ended up going far above and beyond in helping our family. She stepped up, asked what was needed and how she could help. I was so very, very grateful for the offer."
When Ms. Williams got the call, she said she just started getting general information about the blood work kit that would be needed for the draw. "Then Ms. Bove started talking about the personal situation of her brother-in-law being a potential match and what was happening with her family. I let her know we could do a complimentary blood draw and there was a certain timeline that we needed to meet. When she explained her brother-in-law was working with FEMA and was stationed at the fairground I knew he would probably have a hard time getting to us."
"When I had the kit and was ready to draw the blood, I spoke to the brother-in-law and found he needed to get permission to leave the fairgrounds and travel to the hospital," said Ms. Williams. "He also said that they were about to be transferred out of the area and his google results showed it would take him an hour to get to the hospital. Time was not on our side. I knew that I could get to him in 15 minutes because I knew which roads were closed and the quickest way to get around the debris and extra traffic from so many people in the city for the hurricane clean-up. I spoke to my hospital director who made arrangements for me to leave and I headed to the fairgrounds."
Other staff in the Lab helped as well. "They were all involved in making sure that shipping of the blood happened at the right time," said Ms. Williams. "I told them not to let the courier leave until I returned. Once drawn, the blood had to be shipped within a certain timeframe or it wouldn't be good. My team covered for me while I drove to the fairground, got the blood drawn, and drove back. There was a lot of coordination to make sure the shipment happened correctly and on time. I wouldn't have been able to do it without my staff holding down the fort here. It was definitely a great team effort."
Ultimately, Mrs. Bove's brother-in-law was not a match, but a donor was eventually found in Australia. "I had no idea what goes on behind the scenes to make something like this happen," said Mrs. Bove. "We're not completely out of the woods yet but my husband is doing well. I just wanted to let Capital Regional know how much we appreciate the role they played in his journey. We never received a bill, were never asked for insurance information. And their representative April Williams was so very helpful, kind and understanding, we can't be more grateful."
For April Williams, she sees it from a different perspective. "It was a pleasure to be able to do this. In the Lab, we're helping patients that come to the hospital every day. It was good to get out in the community and help someone's family that was here helping hurricane victims. It made us all feel really good."
As the CEO of the hospital, Mr. Keesee was able to respond with great pride to Mrs. Bove's letter. "Above all else we are committed to the care and improvement of human life. April's actions certainly embody that mission. We're very proud of her and the entire Lab team's response to this unique situation. It demonstrates true compassion and empathy for others and underscores the dedication the staff at Capital Regional show for others every day."