Trista Shimota heard an emergency in her patient’s voice.
Trista is a triage nurse in the Women’s Health Center. She was giving a patient some biopsy results over the phone when the patient’s voice changed: She sounded confused, repeating one sentence over and over in a robotic tone.
NH+C honors select employees each year as part of our Do The Next Right Thing initiative that empowers every individual on staff to help provide the best experience possible for patients, guests, and each other. We're proud to honor Trista for using her medical training to respond to an unexpected emergency.
“You can tell a lot from a voice – not just what the patient is saying, but how they’re saying it,” Trista says. “You’re listening to what’s happening physically and emotionally. We do that with all our patients to meet their needs on a personal level, not just medical information.”
This time, it was medical. And it was urgent.
“I asked to speak with her husband,” Trista recalls. “I said, ‘Your wife sounds confused right now – is this unusual?’ and he said, ‘She is acting different.’”
Trista suspected a stroke. She told the husband: “When we hang up, call 911 immediately.” Then Trista called the ED to alert them. They had heard from EMS, and were ready when the ambulance arrived.
It was, indeed, a stroke. With immediate care and medication, the patient made a full recovery.
Trista’s combination of close attention, medical judgement and quick action made all the difference in an extraordinary situation.
“Patients rely on their nurses and doctors to tell them everything. They trust us to tell them what to do next,” she says. That’s why clinic triage nurses review a patient’s chart before calling with test results.
With two triage nurses for 11 clinic providers, it’s hard to balance caring for many patients with the time it takes to provide individual, excellent care. For Trista, whole-person care is a priority.
“From my own healthcare experience and also seeing families get left behind in the focus on medical details, I want to make sure patients get personal support, too. And know what their options are for the next step,” Trista says.
That patient on the phone? She and Trista met for the first time during a follow up appointment from that biopsy. “It was a powerful moment,” Trista says. “I got chills because I felt like I’m in the right spot, doing something that matters.”