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Care givers at BWH routinely go the extra mile for patients. Last month, NICU nurse Kerri Halligan journeyed more than 6,000 miles to ensure a patient's safe transfer to a San Diego hospital. Halligan described her journey as the final leg of care for a three-month effort of several nurses to provide the best care for little Thomas Benton, born prematurely at 1.8 pounds.
Tricia Benton delivered Thomas at BWH in September while she and her husband, who live in San Diego, were on a trip to Cape Cod for her baby shower. Thomas remained in the NICU until December.
“These people saved my son's life,” Tricia told the Boston Herald, which published an article on the story of Thomas' birth and journey home.
When she learned that Thomas was strong enough to travel aboard a medical flight to a San Diego hospital, she was excited to go home to her family and husband, who began a new job shortly after Thomas was born and was unable to remain in Boston with her. “She hadn't slept in her own bed for three months,” Halligan said. “She was in Boston without many family members and friends to lean on during a stressful time.”
When Tricia discovered that insurance would not cover the cost of the flight, NICU staff connected her with a former NICU patient's mother, who helped her raise $27,000 from friends and family within two days, said Ann Overholtzer, one of Thomas's nurses.
Halligan accompanied mother and son on a Dec. 15 flight, during which she and Tricia cared for Thomas by feeding him and monitoring his temperature. The eight-hour journey included two stops for the plane to refuel before landing outside San Diego . From there, Halligan and Benton boarded an ambulance to the hospital. “It was like 'The Amazing Race',” joked Halligan, who flew back to Boston the next day.
The long journey home was punctuated by Tom Benton greeting his wife and son with a dozen red roses. Today, Thomas is doing very well, reported Overholtzer, who has kept in contact with Tricia. “They're both doing great. He was scheduled to go home from the hospital last weekend.”
In addition to Overholtzer and Halligan, those who provided exceptional care for Thomas included Marjorie Wilson, MD, PhD, nurse practitioner Kathleen Murphy and nurses Keisha Murray, Kerri Duggan and MaryEllen Muszynski.