When Clean Counts Most; a family’s story

by Matt Schiering | Chief Marketing Officer

When people think about the intersection of work and family, they may conjure images of running late for dinner or the painful choice between a tee-ball game and an important after-hours work event. But recently, in our family, that intersection took place over six days in a hospital eight miles from our home in the suburbs of NYC.

Day 1 (5,000)

The number in parentheses above and noted throughout this recounting reflects the number of platelets a routine blood test revealed in our son’s blood. For the average person, this number is approximately 125,000. This initial count, taken early in our ordeal, was barely 4% of “normal.”

It was 6 PM on a Thursday when our 23-year-old unexpectedly texted that he was coming home from work early. When he arrived and asked if one of us could drive him to urgent care, we grew alarmed. He had noted a rash on his legs and wanted to get it checked out. Even though the snow had been falling for a few hours, we braved the roads only to find a hastily written note on the door to the office: “Closed early for weather. Sorry for inconvenience.” Tensions rising, we called his former pediatrician, who suggested that we monitor his condition and wait things out until morning. Unless, of course, things got worse – which prompted our trip to the ER at Nyack Montefiore Hospital.

The hazardous road conditions had caused several traffic accidents that night. I was certain this would mean we’d be waiting hours to be seen, but they took us immediately and began a battery of tests to determine the root cause of his symptoms. Within an hour we had an early diagnosis: immune thrombocytopenia (ITP, for short). Our son was admitted, and the medical staff began a transfusion of platelets immediately. Due to COVID restrictions, we would not be permitted to visit with him until the next day at 4 PM.

Day 2 (4,000)

As concerned as we were in the wee hours of Friday morning, we were more concerned that his platelet numbers after the transfusion were lower still. We spoke with the hematologist who assured us they had several courses of action at their disposal. The next step was a corticosteroid injection given concurrently with a transfusion of IVIG. And, of course, more waiting.

In the meantime, our son was well tended to. His hospital room was pleasant, comfortable and the entire facility was spotless.

Day 3 (35,000)

Finally, some good news. We were delighted to learn that the IVIG was having the desired effect! So much so, that our son started to pivot back to his usual self with questions like, “Are you going to keep texting me every two minutes for updates?” And here I thought I was being subtle and clever by sliding in a random question or two between our Game Pidgeon chess matches. It was Saturday morning, and they anticipated he would be staying until Monday to confirm the immunotherapy was continuing to perform as expected. They administered another dose of IVIG, and we graduated from online chess to billiards, archery and connect four.

Day 4 (60,000)

We learned that doctors’ “rounds” on Sunday don’t happen quite the same as weekday or even Saturday check-ups. It was almost 3 PM before we got the news that his platelet count had nearly doubled over the prior 24 hours, bringing them up to about half of what is considered “normal.”  But, progress is progress! The hematologist would return Monday morning and with further improvement, we could perhaps have our son home by that evening. We had exhausted the inventory of online text-games at this point, and he was ready for a break from us anyway, so we idled the parental “helicopter” engines and trusted the process.

Day 5 (112,000)

Around midday Monday, we received a text that his platelets were over the 100K mark. They had halted the course of IVIG therapy at this point as it appeared his immune system was back on track. However, the hematologist, out of an abundance of caution, wanted one more day and one more round of tests to be certain things were in order. We picked up some soup from his favorite local diner, brought it to him during visiting hours, and eagerly awaited a Tuesday release.

Day 6 (157,000)

Homeward bound! We got the call around lunchtime that the platelet count had hit the benchmark they were striving for, and he would be released within the hour. I’m not ashamed to admit that the official word brought a lump to my throat. No matter how old your son or daughter is, they’ll always be your child.

For those working in the infection prevention field, the goal of getting a patient home without incident is a powerful and important one. It is estimated that more than 80,000 people a year acquire an infection while hospitalized that they didn’t present with at the time of admission. Multiple IVs, myriad blood draws, sonograms to ensure proper organ size and function – so much can go awry during a hospital stay. Our gratitude to those in whom we entrusted our son’s care is beyond measure. And, to my own company, who makes the products that help ensure the transfusable drugs themselves are safe and the facilities in which they are administered are clean, our family’s appreciation is born anew. I’ve never been so grateful to work for a company that labors to ensure product safety and help prevent cross-contamination.

To get in touch with Matt or to learn how Contec plays a small but important part in contamination control and critical environment safety, reach him at Mschiering@contecinc.com For more about our solutions specific to the compounding pharmacy channel, visit: www.contechealthcare.com

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