Emergency room care doesn’t end at the hospital’s doors

Theresa Lynn, Emergency Department Director

Theresa Lynn’s almost 30 years with East Cooper includes caring for patients after a hurricane, as well as having her own children here.

When she began as a stuff nurse in the emergency room, Theresa Lynn knew she’d have some stories to tell. In fact, she was counting on it.

“My mother was a nurse, and she always had good stories,” says the Charleston native. “That led me to nursing — I wanted to hear their stories.”

Since March 1986, she’s done just that, first in the emergency room and the ICU as a registered nurse, and now overseeing the emergency department. Then, as now, she wants to make sure patients know they’re going to get the best care possible, and that their concerns, no matter how small, will be heard.

“If they have an issue, we deal with that immediately,” Theresa says. “We pride ourselves on patients having a good experience and getting good service. That’s why we have diverse, highly trained nurses here 24/7, as well as board-certified physicians. Our staff can take care of any emergency, at any time.”

As an example, she points to the callbacks that emergency-room patients receive the day after they are discharged. Sometimes the nurse checking in with them gets some alarming information, and can save a person’s life even from a distance.

“One patient said that they had indeed gotten their prescription, and had taken all the pain medication already,” Theresa recalls. “The nurse knew that was far too much Tylenol, and to please come back. Sure enough, that person had to be admitted for Tylenol toxicity. It’s just a follow-up call, but in that instance it saved a life.”

That concern for patients over all else was clear during Hurricane Hugo in 1989, when staff sheltered at the hospital. Many came in well ahead of their shifts to make sure they would be able to provide care. The emergency room handled more than 100 cases daily for about a week, all while operating on generator power.

It was good training for Theresa, as well as many other doctors and nurses who were around then, and who since have seen East Cooper become a Level III trauma center, as well as a certified stroke center. She’s also been a patient, having given birth to both her children at East Cooper, so she can vouch for the staff’s caring and attentiveness as well.

“It takes a village, and we have great teamwork here,” Theresa says. “We have a good mix of old and new staff, and the more senior staff do a great job helping the new people achieve higher levels. We do a great job of growing each other professionally, and we’ve got a spirit of working together to get our patients well that I don’t see in other places.”