On the morning of Tuesday, July 7, 2020 Reading Hospital employee Michelle Rose suffered sudden cardiac arrest while on her break in the hospital cafeteria. Several employees immediately jumped into action to save their colleague’s life. Diana E. Arango RN and Erika Gilroy, Patient Access Care Management, were first to approach Michelle. Unable to revive her, they asked bystanders to call a “Code Blue” and retrieve the automatic external defibrillator (AED), which had been placed in the cafeteria as part of the HeartSAFE program, created and funded by the Friends of the Reading Hospital.
Also in the cafeteria was the leadership team from TowerDIRECT. Anthony Martin, Paramedic and Director of EMS, Kara Gagliardi, Pre-Hospital RN, Director of the Transfer Center, and Scott Dunbar, Paramedic and Director of EMS Quality Process Improvement. They noticed a commotion, saw someone reaching for the AED, and tables being moved around quickly. The trio ran over to assist and Mr. Martin, a licensed EMS professional, attached the AED. The AED quickly analyzed her heart rhythm and confirmed that a shock was needed. In total, she required six shocks to restore her normal heart rhythm. Throughout her arrest she continued to receive CPR by the employees in the cafeteria.
After receiving multiple defibrillations and CPR, Michelle was admitted to the Miller Regional Heart Center at Reading Hospital. She was placed on a ventilator and received therapeutic hypothermia. This cooling treatment lowers an individual’s body temperature to 89 to 93 degrees Fahrenheit in an attempt to prevent long-term brain damage.
“I was fortunate to have the skill of an expert team providing my care,” Michelle said. “But I also had groups of employees that came together for me by donating their earned time off to allow me time to recover. During the incident in the cafeteria a group of employees formed a prayer circle outside the room while the Code Team was with me.”
“To say that I am proud of the employees involved in saving Ms. Rose’s life is an understatement,” said William M. Jennings, Reading Hospital President and CEO. “These individuals heroically jumped into action and saved the life of their teammate. I am so thankful that Ms. Rose has recovered and is back to work and I wish her well. I’d also like to commend the clinical team that provided the high-quality of care that our patients have come to expect from Reading Hospital.”
The AED used to save Michelle was placed in the employee cafeteria 10 years ago as part of The Friends of Reading Hospital HeartSAFE Berks County initiative. HeartSAFE is a program launched by Reading Hospital and The Friends of Reading Hospital to increase an individual’s chance of survival from sudden cardiac death. Since HeartSAFE’s inception, The Friends of Reading Hospital have placed more than 650 AEDs across Berks County. The initial impetus of the HeartSAFE program was to place an AED in every police and first responder vehicle in Berks County. Having placed more than 250 AED’s in police and first responder vehicles, the program expanded to include placement of AED’s in all Berks County schools, as well as places of congregation including FirstEnergy Stadium, Santander Arena, malls, colleges, and numerous non-profits.
“The national survival rate of sudden cardiac death victims is presently less than 5%,” said Michael Koslow, MD, Tower Health Medical Group – Cardiology. “For every minute that goes by post cardiac arrest that the patient is not resuscitated, their chance of survival decreases by 10%. Hence, the immediate initiation of CPR and access to an AED with prompt delivery of shocks is critical for survival. This need for rapid access to AED’s in Berks County has been the core of the HeartSAFE program, recognizing that only through rapid access to AED’s can lives be saved.”
Lucine Sihelnik, The Friends of Reading Hospital President, said, “Michelle’s story demonstrates the importance of community members becoming educated in hand-only CPR and using an AED. The Friends are committed to continuing this life-saving program for our family and friends.”
In a letter to Reading Hospital CEO, Mr. Jennings, Michelle’s husband, Robert Rose, said, “Thank you all, every employee of Tower Health, for the well wishes, prayers and generosity. My wife and our family were treated and cared for above and beyond anything I could have imagined!”
If someone you know is suffering sudden cardiac arrest, follow the Chain of Survival. This includes:
- Calling 9-1-1 immediately
- Performing CPR
- Using a defibrillator
- Accessing advanced emergency medical care