"Sometimes you feel like you're part of the original bricks, they've seen so much change."
|Orthopedic surgeon Dr. Richard Barker (Photo: Enoch Wu/Sentinel-Tribune)
Debra Busdeker, R.N., sounds like a wizened old lady - which she definitely isn't - as she muses about the transformation in patient care, technology and bricks and mortar at Wood County Hospital in the decades since she came on board.
"There are a lot of us who have been here so long," she said of the employees of the hospital which is celebrating its 60th anniversary this month.
Busdeker, currently director of the hospital's Readyworks and Wellness programs, had already been working weekends at Wood County Hospital prior to graduating from nursing school at Flower Hospital in 1973.
She was stationed in the obstetrics ward before leaving for a year and half to work for Bowling Green's first pediatrician, Dr. Wesley Brown.
"But I missed hospital nursing, so I came back" to Wood County, this time taking a full-time job in the emergency room.
"It was just two weeks before the Blizzard of '78."
Busdeker's supervisor at the time, Nona Calcamuggio, called Busdeker's South Maple Street home at about 5 a.m. "I need your husband to drive you and me in to work," she ordered, knowing that he had a four-wheel-drive vehicle and could pick her up on South Church Street.
"We kept the third-shift on" since most of the day-shift nurses and aides never made it in. "And we all cooked. As soon as we got done with the lunches, we relieved the midnight shift so they could rest."
Busdeker has vivid memories of the nurses having to melt snow to flush toilets.
"I can remember the helicopters bringing in pregnant women. Someone (else) would wander in every once in awhile. Then, after the first couple days, the doors broke loose and we were just flooded" with patients!
A bread delivery truck had gotten stuck at Food Town that first day "and they sent him our way," knowing the hospital would need all the food supplies it could get. "We made toast and sandwiches galore."
Looking back at her blizzard-week baptism of fire, Busdeker pointed out, "It was a community effort and we survived."
Physician Dr. Richard Barker made his debut at Wood County Hospital that same year.
"I grew up in BG and came back to my hometown in 1978," following graduation from BGSU in 1969, then medical school and residency at the University of Cincinnati.
But his first memories of Wood County Hospital reach back much farther as he was an inpatient for several days at the age of 6 or 7.
His most lucid memory of the hospital from that childhood stay, aside from the fact that "the people were really nice," is that "it was small!
"I remember it, of course, as being much smaller than it is now. Now it's just phenomenal how much space it has, how big we are."
In 2011, as a medical professional, Barker is most impressed by the difference in the medical staff. Back in the 1970s "it was mostly general practitioners, with some general surgeons." Today the hospital has "attracted and secured specialists in just about every specialty."
Of himself and the other doctors on staff today, he says, "we have stood on the shoulders of those who came before us, who were brave enough to use their knowledge gained at a small community hospital." Barker is thinking of people like "Dr. Janney, Dr. Whitehead who was my family physician, Don Gamble, Dr. Doug Hess Sr., and Paul Overhulse, a general surgeon who worked until he was about 80," not to mention "Roger Peatee, who could teach himself just about anything."
"The physicians I saw here worked long hours and were very faithful, caring people."
And they managed extremely well considering how much medical knowledge and treatment has advanced since the hospital's opening in 1951.
Barker uses his own field, orthopedics, as a prime example.
|Deb Busdecker, RN., is the current Director of Occupational Health and Wellness and former Emergency Room Head Nurse at Wood County Hospital. (Photo: J.D. Pooley/Sentinel-Tribune)
"I remember treating fractures - when I first came here - (by putting the patient) in traction! Then we'd use a cast or splint. That was the standard back then. We don't use traction much anymore at all," since it carries unwanted risks of pneumonia and blood clots.
Instead, orthopedic surgeons like Barker now use a procedure called open reduction and internal fixation for broken bones. "Using rods and screws and pins we have incredibly better outcomes."
Everything is much speedier, from treatment to recovery.
For a hip fracture in an older person, Barker said, "now we try to do surgery on them within 24 hours. The main goal it to get them up and sitting within 24 hours."
Hospital stays are much shorter, as a result.
"If we did a total hip (replacement) on somebody, they would be in the hospital two weeks!" back in the not-so-good old days. "Now it's three days."
Barker credits better design of prosthesis and better metals, allowing even total joint replacements to be done at Wood County Hospital. Of course, he added, the speedier timeline is also possible now because of "family support and rehab facilities."
Telescoped hospital stays are comparable in every other specialty, he added.
Busdeker, who went on to manage the ER for six years, is continually impressed at "how advanced Wood County Hospital is for a community hospital. There are so many specialty services; the equipment is state of the art."
Plus, she can't help noticing "we've got a lot more employees!
"When I started in ER, I was the only nurse on duty!" If a patient needed to be rushed to a larger hospital in Toledo "they'd take a nurse out of ER and she would go up in the ambulance. They didn't have EMTs.
"When I began here, Bowling Green's fire division was just starting an ambulance service. It was still under the (local) morticians."
Now the hospital has board-certified emergency physicians trained in that specialty," and the staff includes "a cardiology group right on site every day."
"The technology is absolutely stellar. We have an MRI here, we do vascular studies, we have the most current, up-to-date mammography, and our wound care center is beyond state of the art. It has two hyperbaric chambers! There's only two in all of Toledo, max."
Wood County Hospital even boasts a CT-64, Busdeker said. It's a CAT-scan that gives you 64 slices a minute," versus the old style CAT-scan with a paltry four slices a minute.
"We have a lot to be thankful for," she summarized.