I've heard many opinions about Atrium-Lincolnton, some good and some bad, but after spending Christmas with them, I can say that I'm glad they were there when I needed them.
Nobody wants to be in the hospital at Christmas, but I can truthfully say that it was exactly where I needed to be; and while some have expressed negative opinions about our local hospital, my opinion--based on personal experience--is quite positive.
I had experienced multiple episodes of illness over the last several months, but the severe symptoms lasted only a few days, and by the time I got to the doctor, they were gone.
Finally, on a Saturday in November, I went to the Urgent Care on East Main St. in Lincolnton and they diagnosed a kidney infection. After taking antibiotics they prescribed and more prescribed by my primary care doctor, I thought the illness was over. Blood and other tests showed no infection--but the second weekend in December, I got sick again with the same symptoms. I made an appointment with my nephrologist for the Friday before Christmas--an appointment I couldn't keep because on the Thursday before Christmas, I became very ill and by Friday I was a patient at Atrium Health-Lincolnton.
I put off my trip to the emergency room--knowing that I had that Friday appointment--but by just before midnight, I realized I wasn't going to be able to wait.
I drove myself to the hospital and was seen in the emergency room where they said I had a blockage in my intestine. Then came the ordeal of the insertion of a tube (it felt like a garden hose) into my nostril and down into my stomach. They tried the right nostril without success, then the left before getting it inserted.
The hospital was full--most likely typical winter illnesses like the flu were largely responsible--so it was almost noon on Friday before they could get me a room. Instead of going to a regular room, they sent me to the Critical Care Unit.
When I arrived at the hospital, doctors said I was experiencing septic shock. Had I not gone when I did, I wouldn't be around to write this article.
The blockage apparently cleared up without the need for surgery and they treated another kidney infection with intravenous antibiotics. A followup visit with my primary care doctor last Monday indicated that all the infection was gone. I had, with the help of the doctors, nurses and other staff at Atrium Health-Lincolnton, survived Christmas.
I was impressed not only with their medical expertise, but got the feeling that the folks at Atrium genuinely cared about the sick old man they were treating.
On Christmas Eve, my nurse for the day introduced herself. Her first name is Maria--and I told her I was pleased that on Christmas Eve, someone with the moniker of the Holy Mother was looking after me.
The intensive care staff gave me a gift basket as a Christmas present when I 'graduated' to a regular room later that day.
Friends who visited or called asked me if there was anything they could do for me, and I told them that the hospital staff was doing all that needed to be done. The only thing they could do was pray. I sincerely appreciate the many prayers that were said on my behalf.
Younger readers and those who have moved into Lincoln County in recent years are most likely unaware of the history behind our local hospital.
It was opened in its current location off McAlister Road in 2010. Carolinas Healthcare System (now Atrium Health) had taken over operation of the old Lincoln County Hospital in 2008. They had managed the facility since 2000.
The old hospital on Gamble Drive, now the home of the Lincoln County Health Department, was built in 1969.
Lincoln County had one of the few general hospitals in the state when Crowell Memorial Hospital opened on S. Aspen St. in 1907. Dr. Lester Crowell and Dr. R.W. Petrie opened the hospital; Dr. Petrie later sold his interest in the facility to Dr. Crowell, who continued to practice medicine there until his death in 1954. Originally known as Lincoln Hospital, the name was changed to Crowell Memorial in 1936. Up until the end of World War II, the hospital also had a nursing school.
In 1930, Dr. John R. Gamble opened Gamble Hospital on E. Main Street in what is now the Mauney Building across from the Post Office. His son, Dr. John R. Gamble, Jr., gave the land (and a sizeable cash contribution) for Lincoln County Hospital.
While opinions about our local hospital may vary, I'm glad they were there when I needed them. Thanks to their efforts, I may live to celebrate another Christmas.
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