Coordinated care helps Richland Memorial ambassador's duties

By Eric Toliver, Richland Memorial Hospital

Mark Roth on the golf courseWhen Mark Roth began noticing pain in his lower abdomen, he thought it was temporary—something that might keep him from a Saturday afternoon of golfing and then go away after a day or two.

However, the pain didn’t stop, and it gradually became worse.

Mark is a floor care specialist in the Environmental Services Department at Richland Memorial Hospital (RMH) and a champion of sorts for a blossoming partnership.

RMH and The Carle Foundation are moving toward integration to bolster access to care in the region. RMH—a 135-bed hospital and associated healthcare services with more than 500 employees—will work with the health system to keep quality healthcare local and then partner with Carle Foundation Hospital when patients like Mark need advanced specialty care.

As his pain persisted, Mark decided to ask Jamee Baltzell, a nurse practitioner in the RMH Convenient Care Clinic, about what he was experiencing. Jamee ordered some diagnostic tests after examining Mark and hearing more about his symptoms.

“The tests showed that my adrenal gland was enlarged,” Mark said.

Mark said Jamee immediately contacted RMH general surgeon Paul Sutherland, MD.

“(Dr. Sutherland) wanted to see me by 5 p.m. that same evening, and by the next day, arrangements had already been made for me to see a surgical oncologist at Carle Foundation Hospital in Urbana,” Mark recalled.

The specialty surgeon at Carle confirmed the presence of a tumor in Mark’s adrenal gland. The doctor wasn’t sure whether the tumor was malignant, but said it needed to be removed.

“A lot of emotions went through me, but most of all I thought about my family,” Mark said.

The surgery was scheduled for four weeks later, with a pre-op visit in between.

“That four weeks was tough—worrying, waiting and wondering,” Mark recalled.

Mark was not only worried about the tumor, but was also concerned about going under anesthesia. During a previous surgery in the 1980s, he had some complications. He was really impressed with the anesthesia specialists at Carle and how relaxed they made him feel at the pre-op visit.

“They listened to me and then explained how much anesthesia has advanced since that time. They made me feel a lot better,” Mark said.

Finally, the day of tMark Roth taking a swing on the golf coursehe surgery came.

During surgery, Mark’s adrenal gland was removed, and the tumor was sent for biopsy. He said the team was very reassuring afterward and helped him to feel more at ease—although, Mark knew he would have to wait for the biopsy results to know what would happen from there.

Mark stayed overnight at Carle Foundation Hospital following the procedure, calling it a very good experience, much like what he sees all the time at RMH.

“They explained everything well. The individualized experience they provided was excellent. There wasn’t a person there who did not treat me well. I wasn’t just a number,” he said.

“I am in the hallways a lot. I get to help people find where they need to go, and they tell me about their experiences at RMH. We have people come to RMH from 50 miles away or more, and they tell me how impressed they are with our hospital.

“They say it’s a great facility, it’s clean, the staff is friendly and helpful and that we go out of our way to make them feel welcome. From what I experienced at Carle, they have the same beliefs as us.”

When the day came for Mark’s follow-up appointment at Carle Cancer Center, Mark was anxious.

Carle’s surgeon came in the room and announced, “This is good!” The biopsy showed the tumor was not malignant. Mark said it’s difficult to express how relieved he felt at that moment.

Mark said the surgeon and his staff shared in his happiness.

“It was like it made their day, too,” Mark said.

Mark is now fully recovered and still tries to work in 18 holes whenever the opportunity arises. Thinking back on his experience, Mark is impressed with how quickly all the players at RMH and Carle came together to make sure he received the care he needed.

“I know that everyone involved really cared about me—from start to finish.”