A truck driver suffering from adult respiratory distress spent 40 days at Adventist Bolingbrook Hospital – much of it in the intensive care unit – and is alive today thanks to skilled health professionals and a unique bed that dramatically improved oxygen flow through his lungs.
“For him to walk out of here was a miracle,” said Anne Russe, RN, the patient’s primary ICU nurse. “People that sick usually don’t leave the ICU.”
Prior to his admittance to Adventist Bolingbrook Hospital, 53-year-old Randy Krenz spent several days sleeping in his truck, too ill to even eat or drink. When his wife, Catherine Krenz, couldn’t reach him by phone, she contacted a freight manager for help. Randy, who remembers nothing of the experience, apparently called a taxi and went to the emergency room. A hospital employee called Catherine and asked her to come at once.
“They told me he was really sick with double pneumonia and had only a one in a hundred chance of making it,” Catherine said.
Internist/hospitalist Dr. Mark Switzer oversaw Krenz’s treatment in the ICU, which included broad-spectrum antibiotics. He was swabbed for H1N1, but the lab results came back negative, said Brenda Lumpkin, ICU nurse manager. To facilitate breathing, Switzer put Krenz on a BiPAP machine, using a full face mask and high pressure. This procedure is typically performed as an alternative to using a ventilator when a patient needs extra help breathing.
As Krenz’s condition continued to deteriorate, he needed additional help breathing. He was intubated to allow additional air to enter his lungs.
“The fluids were building up in his lungs,” Russe said. “We were just going hour by hour.”
Krenz’s last chance was the KCI RotoProne Therapy System, a special bed designed to help aggressively treat patients with severe pulmonary complications through prone therapy. This was the first time the bed was used at Adventist Bolingbrook Hospital; it previously has been used to treat patients at two sister hospitals, Adventist Hinsdale Hospital and Adventist La Grange Memorial Hospital.
Here’s how the bed works: The human lung is triangular in shape, with the broadest part near the patient’s back. However, when a patient can lie in a prone position, the heart falls forward, lifting weight from the lungs and allowing more oxygen into the bloodstream. Turning a sedated and intubated patient to a prone position isn’t easy; doing so manually can require four to seven nurses. The bed facilitates easing the patient onto his stomach and also swings the patient into a 120-degree arc to help move accumulated fluid in the lungs.
Use of the KCI RotoProne Therapy System has grown in popularity during the last five years; it was used recently to treat patients suffering from H1N1. The patient generally remains in the prone position for 18 hours a day.
Krenz needed the bed for 10 days and remained on a ventilator for several more days. Once the breathing tube was removed, Switzer reinstated the BiPAP for extra support during Krenz’s recovery. He is now recovering at home in Tennessee. He is trying to regain 50 pounds of lost muscle and coping with persistent short-term memory loss that might have been caused by a stroke he experienced during his illness.
“Randy is still really weak, but the doctors told him to take it day by day,” his wife said. “Things are hard right now, but he’s a real fighter.”
Catherine credits Adventist Bolingbrook Hospital with saving her husband’s life.
“All the doctors and nurses were really nice and everyone worked together,” she said. “I wish it were closer to home.”
Lumpkin called Krenz “one of the sickest patients we’ve ever treated” at Adventist Bolingbrook Hospital. Added Switzer: “We don’t usually see someone in a condition that is this severe experience a turnaround, but Randy Krenz did. It’s a success story. Because he’s generally healthy and a non-smoker, he should recover fine and get back to normal daily activities soon.”