"Okay, I'm going to tell you about my third job after I graduated from college. I got a bachelor of science degree in dietetics, and I was hired as a clinical dietician at Huntington Hospital in Huntington, Long Island, New York. And, one of my patients was a burn patient, and the last time that hospital had a burn patient, it took 95 days to get that person out of the hospital. So, the surgeon who was taking care of him called me up and asked me if I knew anything about a new product called high nitrogen Vivonex, and I said I know of Vivonex, but I do not know about high nitrogen Vivonex. He asked me if I could call the company and find out if we could get it. I had a little problem using telephones, but I called the company and had a chat with the people who ran the company, and they told me that this product was specifically for people who lost a lot of nitrogen through their skin, for burn patients, they lose a lot of stuff through their skin because he was burned, he was badly burned.
So I ordered it, and then when it came, I made sure that our kitchen prepared it for him and sent it up to his floor. And, one of the things I had to do was check to see if was being utilized, so I went up and checked the refrigerators, and I found that the nurses had not given the patient the high nitrogen Vivonex. And, I also had to go in and visit the patient, and because he was burned it was treated like a . . . you had to put on a gown because they didn't want him to get more infections. And that was kind of hard because it was hard to look at somebody that was burned. So, I thought well he also need high protein, so I started drinks, dishes at home and bringing them into the hospital and putting them there. The doctor asked me if the patient was getting the food, and I said 'No, he's not. The nurses aren't giving it to him.' His parents brought in milkshakes from McDonald's, so I made sure that he got them. I served him some of the things that I made from home and made sure it had lots of protein in it.
And, a little bit later in his treatment and everything, I was visiting with some of the patients on some of the floors and here he came out of the elevator, and I asked how he was doing, and they said ‘Well, we took him in to do another skin graft but we didn’t have to do it because his skin had started to grow back by itself, and I really think that it was probably the high nitrogen Vivonex and the dishes that I was given him that were high in protein. I don’t know how long he was in the hospital, but it was a whole lot shorter than 95 days and he definitely was going to recover. My kids got kind of upset because they liked it when I made the desserts for him! They got what was left over, and they kept asking me when I was going to get another patient like that. So, that’s just one patient. I had other things like that that happened in that hospital, but this was the most dramatic."
This story was collected in conjunction with the Smithsonian's Museum on Main Street program and its national traveling exhibition "The Way We Worked" when it was on view at the Sublette County Public Library in Pinedale, Wyoming, in 2018. This story is part of the "Be Here: Main Street" story collection, intended to capture Americans' stories about their neighborhoods, waterways, towns, traditions, and personal experiences.
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