Innovation and positive impact: HCA Healthcare’s top 10 stories of 2023

HCA Healthcare's top stories of 2023

In pursuit of HCA Healthcare’s mission to care for and improve human life, our more than 294,000 colleagues contributed to moments of innovation, service and groundbreaking medical advancements over the past 365 days. Join us as we count down HCA Healthcare’s top 10 most popular stories of 2023. Plus, we’re taking a look back on some of this year’s most positive and uplifting news that resonated with our social media followers.

For more stories that celebrate HCA Healthcare’s positive impact, follow us on LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram and X.

1. Promoting access to healthcare careers

HCA Healthcare announces HCA Healthcare Foundation grants to promote access to healthcare careers

(January 2023) The HCA Healthcare Foundation, through its Healthier Tomorrow Fund, announced multiple grants in January to provide high school students early access to careers in healthcare and to connect unemployed and underemployed job seekers with meaningful healthcare career opportunities. 

The HCA Healthcare Foundation is giving $250,000 in total grants to community colleges – including Austin Community College, Metro State University of Denver, Miami Dade College, Pensacola State College and The University of Texas at Arlington – to help high school students learn about various healthcare careers.

In addition, the HCA Healthcare Foundation is giving $130,000 to the Urban League of Broward County as part of the Healthcare Workforce Enhancement Initiative. Through this grant, the Urban League of Broward County will pilot a workforce development program for those who have been disconnected from the workforce to explore careers in the healthcare field. 

Read more: HCA Healthcare announces HCA Healthcare Foundation grants to promote access to healthcare careers

HCA Healthcare announces grant to University of California Riverside

(November 2023) As part of our three-year commitment to give $10 million to historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSIs), HCA Healthcare announced a gift of $620,000 in November to  the University of California, Riverside (UCR) with $620,000 to support five scholarships for students enrolled in the UCR School of Medicine. HCA Healthcare has now announced $7.42 million to multiple colleges and universities towards that commitment.

The gift will fund two Dean’s Mission Scholarship – Merit Program scholarships and three Dean’s Mission Award – Service Program scholarships. Additionally, HCA Healthcare’s Riverside Community Hospital will provide job shadowing, mentorship and continued learning opportunities to recipients.

Read more: HCA Healthcare announces grant to University of California, Riverside

2. Collaborating with Google Cloud to bring generative AI to hospitals

HCA Healthcare physician using Augmedix during a patient interaction
Dr. Alex Stinard uses the Augmedix app on his mobile device during a patient conversation with a patient in the emergency department at UCF Lake Nona Hospital.

(August 2023) HCA Healthcare and Google Cloud announced a new collaboration in August designed to use generative AI technology to improve workflows on time-consuming tasks, such as clinical documentation, so physicians and nurses can focus more on patient care. This expanded work with Google Cloud is part of a strategic partnership announced in 2021 that includes safeguards to protect patient privacy and the security of data.

As part of a pilot program that began early this year, approximately 75 emergency room physicians at four HCA Healthcare hospitals started using Google’s AI technology to quickly and more easily document key medical information from conversations during patient visits. It is part of a collaboration among HCA Healthcare, Google Cloud, and Augmedix, a healthcare technology company that specializes in ambient medical documentation.

Physicians use an Augmedix app on a hands-free device to create accurate and timely medical notes from clinician-patient conversations. Augmedix’s proprietary platform then leverages natural language processing, along with Google Cloud’s generative AI technology and multi-party medical speech-to-text processing, to instantly convert the data into medical notes, which physicians review and finalize before they are transferred in real time to the hospital’s electronic health record (EHR). While we are in the process of collecting measurement data, physicians in the pilot program have reported strong overall satisfaction.

Forbes article: HCA Healthcare, one of the largest healthcare organizations in the world, is deploying generative AI

3. Crushing the Crisis during fifth annual prescription drug take back day  

HCA Healthcare colleagues at a Crush the Crisis event

(October 2023) HCA Healthcare hosted our fifth annual “Crush the Crisis” prescription drug take back day on October 28, 2023. Our organization has now collected more than 67,500 pounds of medication since launching “Crush the Crisis” as an enterprise initiative in 2019.

This year, all 15 HCA Healthcare U.S. divisions participated alongside local law enforcement in a “Crush the Crisis” prescription drug take back day to raise awareness about the dangers of prescription drug misuse and the importance of proper disposal of unused or expired medications. An estimated 9 million doses of medication were collected at 132 collection sites across 15 states.

HCA Healthcare facility events with the greatest amount of medication collected this year include:

In addition to “Crush the Crisis” events, efforts to reduce prescription drug misuse and transform pain management include:

  • Enhanced Surgical Recovery (ESR): a multi-modal approach to pain management using pre-, intra- and post-operative interventions to optimize outcomes. HCA Healthcare’s ESR programs have demonstrated significant improvements in surgical recovery and patient satisfaction.
  • Electronic prescribing of controlled substances (EPCS): aims to stem increasing rates of opioid-related addiction, misuse diversion and death by making it more difficult for medication-seekers to doctor-shop and alter prescriptions. Physicians have access to aggregated electronic health records, providing data that will allow them to prescribe opioids judiciously.

Read more: HCA Healthcare collects 13,136 pounds of medication during fifth annual “Crush the Crisis”

4. Investing in clinical education and training for nurses

Galen College of Nursing students in a simulation lab

(May 2023) Providing effective clinical education and career support for our nurses is the first step in delivering high-quality patient care. This year, we announced a more than $300 million in investment to support the education and training of nurses. This includes $200 million towards the expansion of Galen College of Nursing and approximately $136 million towards the opening of new HCA Healthcare Centers for Clinical Advancement. HCA Healthcare has plans to open twenty additional centers in the next three years. 

HCA Healthcare’s purchase of Galen College of Nursing in 2020 brought together two of the leading nursing organizations to increase access to nursing education and to provide career opportunities for both students and colleagues. Since joining HCA Healthcare, Galen College of Nursing has announced more than a dozen new campuses and increased enrollment to over 12,000 students.  

The Centers for Clinical Advancement operate independently from nursing schools and are dedicated to helping nurses advance their skills and careers. New nursing graduates use the centers to complete their Nurse Residency program and choose specializations, while veteran nurses can use the centers to earn advanced certifications. From classroom instruction to high-fidelity immersive simulations, the centers are equipped with technology that allows students to learn from clinical experts.

Read more: HCA Healthcare announces more than $300 million in clinical education and training investments for nurses

5. Increasing mental wellness education for young girls

Three Girl Scout patches that read: Knowing My Emotions, Finding My Voice and Showing Up for Me and You

(September 2023) As a result of a $1.38 million grant from the HCA Healthcare Foundation to Girl Scouts of the USA (GSUSA) in 2022, HCA Healthcare and GSUSA announced the launch of a series of patch programs designed to increase mental wellness in girls in 4th through 12th grade.  

The GSUSA Mental Wellness Patch Programs, developed in partnership with the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) and the GSUSA Program Advisory Committee, including HCA Healthcare behavioral health experts, are currently available to all councils nationwide. The programs, Knowing My Emotions, Finding My Voice and Showing Up for Me and You, encourage girls to: 

  • Learn about mental wellness for themselves and others; 
  • Recognize and understand their feelings; 
  • Effectively cope with mental health challenges; and 
  • Feel comfortable seeking help. 

The 90-minute programs include activities, such as making art or writing poetry, that foster resilience and help girls to better understand their world. Program materials also contain meeting aids, parent/caregiver resources, teaser activities and marketing tools to equip Girl Scout troop leaders and council staff with support and activities focused on mental wellness, behavioral issues and healthy habits. Each patch program also includes an adult facilitator guide to help adults approach girls in a sensitive way, prompt important conversations and guide them through difficult moments.  

6. Moving medicine forward through clinical trials and research

The COVID-19 pandemic inspired renewed public interest in clinical research. But using it to help doctors and researchers learn more about diseases and improve healthcare is anything but novel.
Across HCA Healthcare, clinical research has brought forth new medications, new ways of doing surgery, new medical devices, new ways to use existing treatments and new ways to improve the quality of life for our patients with acute or chronic illnesses.

We’re including few of the top HCA Healthcare clinical research stories that made headlines in 2023:

Large clinical trial by the CDC, Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Institute, HCA Healthcare and UCI Health identifies best strategy to prevent life-threatening healthcare-associated ICU infections

(October 2023) We announced a large multi-state study by HCA Healthcare, Centers for Disease Control and PreventionHarvard Pilgrim Health Care Institute and the University of California, Irvine which found that a nasal antibiotic ointment, mupirocin, which is currently used daily for intensive care unit (ICU) patients in only one-third of U.S. hospitals, is highly effective at preventing Staphylococcus aureus infections in critically ill patients, outperforming an antiseptic solution.

This study was published in JAMA and involved more than 800,000 ICU patients in 137 HCA Healthcare hospitals and built upon an earlier study among these research partners demonstrating that daily bathing with antiseptic chlorhexidine soap plus nasal mupirocin for all ICU patients prevented many bloodstream and other serious infections. This strategy is called “decolonization” because it reduces the amount of bacteria on the body in order to reduce infection risk. Today, as a result of the previous study, the majority of ICUs bathe patients with chlorhexidine; however, only one-third of hospital ICUs provide nasal mupirocin to all patients, largely due to fears of fueling antibiotic resistance.

Read more: Large clinical trial by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Institute, HCA Healthcare and UCI Health identifies best strategy to prevent life-threatening healthcare-associated ICU infections

(October 2023) We also announced in October that HCA Healthcare’s Johnston-Willis Hospital in Richmond, Virginia, is the first hospital in the United States to provide treatment in a new clinical trial for patients with brain metastases from lung cancer. This clinical trial, conducted by HCA Healthcare Research Institute and sponsored by Insightec, a global healthcare company pioneering the use of focused ultrasound technology, investigates the benefit of combining noninvasive focused ultrasound with systemic immunotherapy as an alternative.

Johnston-Willis Hospital is hosting the trial and has already enrolled the first two U.S. patients who are currently undergoing a total of six treatment cycles each. The patients have metastatic brain cancer, which originated from cancer cells spreading to the brain from the primary tumor in their lungs. The new treatment uses Insightec’s system to open the blood-brain barrier (BBB), which defends the brain against harmful substances, but also prevents critical medications from being delivered. By opening the BBB, non-small cell lung cancer medications may reach and target the critical lesions in the brain.

Learn more: First U.S. patients undergo innovative brain cancer treatment in new clinical trial at HCA Healthcare’s Johnston-Willis Hospital

7. Addressing food insecurity

HCA Healthcare announces HCA Healthcare Foundation's Health Equity Catalyst Grant Program

(December 2023) In December, HCA Healthcare announced that the HCA Healthcare Foundation, through its Healthier Tomorrow Fund gave $375,000 in grants to nonprofits as part of its new Health Equity Catalyst Grant Program. This year, the grants were given to nonprofits addressing food insecurity and providing access to healthy foods across the country.

Launched for the first time in 2023, the Health Equity Catalyst Grant program provides one-time operating grants to support organizations and collaboratives addressing health inequities in a defined focus area in order to advance or accelerate efforts to:

  • Provide culturally and structurally competent services,
  • Advance high-impact health equity programming,
  • Support collaborative health equity efforts, and/or
  • Address root causes of health inequities.

The fifteen nonprofits receiving this year’s grants are focused on key food insecurity issues, including improving access to nutrient-dense fresh food, providing locally grown produce and job training opportunities, and advancing culturally congruent health education.

In addition to these grants, HCA Healthcare hosted our third-annual Healthy Food for Healthier Tomorrows Food & Nutrition Drive to help fight against food insecurity. HCA Healthcare, our colleagues and the HCA Healthcare Foundation provided more than 1 million nutritious meals to community food banks by donating food or making financial contributions to help purchase perishable items such as milk, fruit and vegetables.

For this year’s food drive, hospitals were encouraged to get creative and build sculptures with the donated food before transporting it to their local food banks. The sculpture winner in each division received a $10,000 grant for the food bank serving their community. In addition, there were three national winners selected to receive an additional grant to a food bank in the hospital’s hometown to make an even greater impact.

2023 HCA Healthcare sculpture winners.

Read more: HCA Healthcare announces HCA Healthcare Foundation’s Health Equity Catalyst Grant Program

8. Preparing and responding to natural disasters

(August 2023) On August 30, Hurricane Idalia made landfall in Florida’s Big Bend as a Category 3 major hurricane, before moving into Georgia as a Category 1 hurricane and pushing into South Carolina as a tropical storm. As destructive winds and heavy rainfall progressed across all three states, HCA Healthcare colleagues stood ready to serve those who needed care. Long before a hurricane makes landfall, HCA Healthcare’s disaster response team prepares to ensure continuity of care.

The Nashville-based EEOC responds to approximately 900 events annually and is comprised of nearly 200 multi-disciplinary leaders, including risk management, clinical experts, supply chain, patient logistics, air and ground transport and community liaison representatives. During hurricane season, EEOC leaders leverage strategic partnerships with weather forecasting agencies and utilize real-time alerting technology to continuously monitor threats and evolve response plans and programs.

HCA Healthcare activated its Nashville-based Enterprise Emergency Operations Center (EEOC), comprised of nearly 200 multi-disciplinary leaders, including risk management, clinical experts, supply chain, patient logistics, air and ground transport and community liaison representatives. In advance of Hurricane Idalia, the EEOC worked alongside local leadership to prepare by distributing key resources to our hospitals, so that colleagues remain safe and patients continue to receive quality care.

Working across HCA Healthcare’s network, the EEOC can redirect the company’s supply chain to get medical supplies, equipment and care teams to impacted areas to offer assistance. The EEOC prepositions resources, including temporary generators, bulk water and fuel supply. This year, HCA Healthcare stationed Incident Support Unit Trailers equipped with 3,000 Flood Control Barriers and storm readiness equipment, in both its Gulf Coast and West Florida divisions.

In the event of an evacuation, the company uses EvacuNATE, an algorithm developed by HCA Healthcare, which helps to reduce hospital evacuation time using real-time triage data to track every patient’s movement and where alternative care is available.

HCA Healthcare's response to Hurricane Idalia

(December 2023) In December 2023, we also announced that HCA Healthcare and the HCA Healthcare Foundation are donating $250,000 to aid those impacted by the tornadoes that recently hit Middle Tennessee. The tornadoes, which touched down the afternoon of Saturday, Dec. 9, 2023, devastated multiple counties across Middle Tennessee, destroying homes and leaving thousands without power.

Additionally, the HCA Healthcare Hope Fund, an employee-run, employee-supported 501(c)(3) charity that provides financial aid and resources to employees after extended illness, injury, disaster or other special situations, is providing grants to HCA Healthcare colleagues impacted by the tornadoes.

Read more: HCA Healthcare and the HCA Healthcare Foundation donate $250,000 to aid tornado relief efforts in Middle Tennessee

9. Advancing comprehensive cancer care with multi-cancer early detection screening

HCA Healthcare and GRAIL collaborate to advance comprehensive cancer care with multi-cancer early detection screening

(October 2023) We announced a strategic collaboration with Sarah Cannon Cancer Institute, part of HCA Healthcare, and GRAIL, LLC, a healthcare company with a mission of detecting cancer early when it can be cured, to advance comprehensive cancer care through early detection. On October 17, 2023, GRAIL’s Galleri® multi-cancer early detection (MCED) test was made available to patients who meet screening criteria at select HCA Healthcare physician practices.

More than 600,000 people die from cancer each year in the U.S., according to the American Cancer Society. This is in large part because some of the deadliest cancers are found too late when outcomes are often poor. Recommended screening tests save lives, but only cover five cancer types in the U.S.: breast, colon, cervical, prostate, and, in high-risk adults, lung. In fact, approximately 70% of cancer deaths have no recommended early detection screening.

The Galleri test, available by prescription only, is the first clinically validated MCED test that can detect a shared cancer signal across more than 50 types of cancers using a simple blood draw. The MCED test offers a fundamentally different blood-based approach intended to be used in addition to recommended single cancer screenings.

Recognizing the Galleri test is a new paradigm in cancer screening, Sarah Cannon Cancer Institute will leverage its leading nurse navigation program to support patients and providers through the diagnostic journey following a positive Galleri test result. Plans to enhance patient experience and outcomes include standardizing patient and provider education, developing evidence-based diagnostic pathways, and facilitating timely evaluations.

HCA Healthcare is also participating in the PATHFINDER 2 multi-center interventional study of the Galleri test in Nashville, Asheville, Austin, and Denver. The company’s research partner, Sarah Cannon Research Institute (SCRI) and its contract research organization, will conduct a retrospective study focused on patient and provider outcome-based metrics and quality of care related to MCED testing as part of the initiative.

Read more: HCA Healthcare and GRAIL collaborate to advance comprehensive cancer care with multi-cancer early detection screening

10. HCA Healthcare NICU patients attend prom together

HCA Healthcare patients Leighton and Tatum as babies and prom dates.

(June 2023) HCA Healthcare has a long history of prioritizing and working to continually improve perinatal safety including  Developing evidence-based perinatal protocols through the company’s longstanding partnership with March of Dimes, such as prohibiting elective delivery prior to 39 weeks to help babies have a healthy start to life. This best practice has now been adopted worldwide as a standard of care.

The story of two HCA Healthcare neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) patients and March of Dimes families went viral in 2023, detailing how they  “met” as newborns in the NICU at The Children’s Hospital at TriStar Centennial in 2005 went viral. Nearly 18 years later and despite living 200 miles away from each other, the two NICU grads attended prom together this spring.

Leighton was born at the Nashville, Tennessee-based hospital on Aug. 22, at 28 weeks, weighing a little over two pounds. Tatum was born three days later at 24 weeks, weighing just over 1 pound. Once Leighton and Tatum’s families were introduced to each other, they developed a special bond. In addition to the supportive and compassionate care provided by the hospital’s NICU nurses, their mothers found encouragement and life-long friendship in each other.

After the families left the hospital, they told Good Morning America that they remained close over the years meeting up for birthday parties, day trips and play dates. It was Tatum who decided to ask Leighton to her senior prom. Leighton was quickly on board with the “cool” idea, and his parents even surprised Tatum with a limo rental for the special occasion. This milestone was a special one for their moms, who recall their babies once being so small and fragile.

“It is because of each and every nurse that we get to see our babies grow and have such a beautiful friendship. We owe it all to TriStar Centennial.”

Laura, mother of HCA Healthcare patient, Tatum

HCA Healthcare nurse Jamie Horton cared for Tatum the day she was born. She now serves as a NICU manager in the 60-bed, Level III NICU caring for babies who are born at less than 32 weeks gestation or are critically ill. The NICU offers a wide range of lifesaving medical services, including life support, pediatric surgical care, respiratory therapy, access to pediatric physician specialists and air transport.

“Seeing this bond between former NICU patients, such as Tatum and Leighton, cements my passion for a job and a NICU that I love so much. I chose to be a NICU nurse to help be a voice for these babies and their parents and to do all I could to make sure they have healthy and wonderful lives ahead of them,” said Jaime. “They started life with a challenge and have no doubt they’ll handle any other challenge that comes their way. I got to see how tiny Tatum was and how tiny and critical she was on that first day of life. I’m not surprised she is who she is today because she started out as a really strong young lady as a baby, and watching her grow into that has been rewarding.”

Good Morning America article: Tennessee teens, former NICU neighbors, attend prom together

Stories to make you smile

Just as a family does, we pull together to care for, support and celebrate with patients and each other. Across HCA Healthcare, we saw a number of stories about the remarkable people at the bedside of our patients resonate with our followers on social media this year. Here’s a look at HCA Healthcare’s top feel-good news stories from 2023.  

HCA Healthcare nurse learns baby she helped deliver two decades ago is her daughter-in-law

HCA Healthcare nurse, her son and daughter-in-law in a hospital.

Mary Ann West has been a dedicated labor and delivery nurse with HCA Healthcare affiliate MountainStar Healthcare for more than 25 years. She is one of the nurses proud to welcome the more than 218,000 new babies delivered across our organization annually. This year, Mary Ann experienced a moment of pure serendipity when she discovered that she helped with one very special delivery 22 years ago at HCA Healthcare’s Lakeview Hospital in Utah — her daughter-in-law.

Mary Ann’s son, Tyler, and his fiancé Kelsey were looking through old pictures ahead of their May wedding for a slide show when Tyler recognized the nurse who was caring for Kelsey…it was his mother. Mary Ann told Good Morning America the coincidence is remarkable. “What are the odds that these two kids would find each other and end up getting married and starting their own little family,” said Mary Ann.

The labor and delivery nurse said she remembered the day Stacy, Kelsey’s mother, was in labor at Lakeview Hospital due to her nervousness about having three kids under five years old. Additionally, Mary Ann remembered her due to a rare condition Stacy had called velamentous cord insertion – a complication that occurs in about 1% of single-birth pregnancies.  “I remembered Kelsey’s birth because I had never experienced labor like this, before or since. We were all relieved and happy when everything went perfectly and Kelsey was born healthy, without complications. She really is a miracle, and it really does feel like it was meant to be.”

“To be able to have both of my moms there with me when I was brought into the world is something that not everyone gets to say, and that’s something that I’ll be forever grateful for, that I have that connection with her and that she has that connection with my mom, too,” said Kelsey.

HCA Healthcare cancer survivor officiates oncology nurse’s wedding

HCA Healthcare patient officiating the wedding of her oncology nurse.

Each day, our colleagues build strong relationships with their patients during their care journey. This year, we shared the story of how HCA Healthcare patient and cancer survivor Julie Marshall fulfilled her nurse’s wish by officiating her wedding after the two developed a special bond.

Diagnosed with stage 3 lymphoma in the summer of 2021, Julie went through intense treatments of chemotherapy at the Sarah Cannon Cancer Institute at Johnston-Willis Hospital in Richmond, Virginia. During her six-cycle treatment, she formed a close relationship with her care team, which included one of her nurses, Tiffany Knepshield.

When Tiffany learned that Julie was a chaplain, she was her first choice when it came time to find someone to officiate her wedding. “Standing on that dock, pronouncing her and her husband as husband and wife was just an honor for me,” Julie recalls.

Now in remission, Julie continues to keep in touch with Tiffany and her new husband. Julie also regularly visits the hospital where she was treated to visit her care team and performed a “Blessing of the Hands” ceremony during National Nurses Week.

“Our relationships with our chemo patients don’t stop after they finish their cycles,” Julie said. “They’re all a family and we love them so much. It’s awesome to have that connection outside of work. Julie will always be a part of my life now.”

Read WRIC article: Patient officiates her nurse’s wedding after the pair became friends during cancer treatment

HCA Healthcare nurse celebrates 90th birthday and half a century of caring for our patients

HCA Healthcare nurse Ms. Mattie in front of balloons that read "90"

Every day, nurses influence strategies and decisions related to patient care, share best practices and make a difference. For more than 50 years, registered nurse Mattie Schier has served patients at HCA Healthcare affiliate St. David’s Medical Center. Catching the spotlight on HCA Healthcare’s social media channels, Mattie’s fellow colleagues surprised her with a celebration in honor of her 90th birthday.

Igniting her passion for healthcare, Ms. Mattie decided to pursue a career in nursing after learning more about the field from her mother, a licensed vocational nurse. She began working at the Austin, Texas, hospital in 1972 as a nurse in the operating room.

Over the years, she has served in a variety of roles across multiple surgical specialties. Today, she works on the central sterile processing team ensuring surgical instruments are sterilized and prepared for surgery. “I’ve always loved being a nurse,” Mattie shared. “I really love interacting with the patients.”

Ms. Mattie is a three-time cancer survivor — battling breast cancer twice and colorectal cancer once. She’s drawn on her personal experiences to give hope, encouragement and compassion to her patients. Mattie shares that throughout her cancer journeys, her hospital family was there for her every step of the way with unwavering support. “They have just been so wonderful to me and I feel like I need to be wonderful to them and work as long as I can,” Mattie said.

Georgia HCA Healthcare hospital throws wedding for burn patient

HCA Healthcare burn patient and his new wife smile for a picture with a member of his care team.

HCA Healthcare patient Preston Cobb and his future bride, Tanesha, had their wedding date marked for July 22, 2023. However, their wedding plans were paused when Preston suffered a severe chemical spill accident on June 30.

Preston was brought to HCA Healthcare affiliate the Joseph M. Still (JMS) Burn Center at Doctors Hospital of Augusta for specialized burn care for the severe burn injuries sustained on 32% of his body. Preston began his hospitalization on a ventilator in the burn intensive care unit (ICU) and eventually required 16 surgeries.

Due to his accident, Preston and Tanesha thought they would have to postpone their wedding date but the JMS Burn Center colleagues were not going to let that happen. Wanting to create a memorable day for Preston and his bride, the hospital team organized a wedding — complete with a DJ, decorations, a cake, flowers and a photographer. Their family and friends stood by their side at the hospital as they exchanged vows in the hospital’s chapel.

“I wanted to be able to give Preston his wedding day since he was adamant about not changing his date,” shared HCA Healthcare nurse Mary Cook. “I know a lot went into planning his original wedding and I thought if I could do this for him, it would keep his spirits up and give him hope to hold on to because his road to recovery will be tough. I just wanted to give him and his family something positive.”

Read USA Today article: Georgia hospital throws wedding ceremony for couple after groom is severely burned before his big day

Nurse’s words of compassion become lifeline for patient

HCA Healthcare nurse looking at a patient in a hospital bed.

An act of compassionate care during the pandemic led to a special patient-caregiver reunion in 2023. On January 17, 2020, critical care nurse Lisa Whittaker came to work to care for patients in need as she has for the past 30 years – five of which have been spent at HCA Healthcare’s Lakeview Hospital in Bountiful, Utah. One patient she cared for that night claims that Lisa is the reason she found the strength to keep fighting to live today.

“I started coming down with these symptoms that I’ve never felt before,” Jennifer recalled, reflecting on the onset of her illness and respiratory failure. The immense pain caused by respiratory issues still lingers vividly in her mind and ultimately required her to be placed on a ventilator in the intensive care unit (ICU) at Lakeview Hospital. The severity of Jennifer’s condition eventually caused her to lose consciousness.

Amid the commotion around her, Jennifer remembered a voice that deeply resonated with her. “Somebody was in my ear saying, ‘I’ve got you, you are okay.’ I thought it was an angel,” said Jennifer, who spent 10 days in a coma. When Jennifer woke up, she recalled everything that Lisa said on the first night of her coma, January 17. Lisa’s comforting words of reassurance that everything would be okay helped her to fight, despite the severity of her condition.

Jennifer recovered and was discharged from the hospital on January 31, 2020, without knowing Lisa’s name. Early this year – more than three years after leaving the hospital – Jennifer returned to the with a picture of herself in a hospital bed with the nurse who had given her the strength to keep fighting – determined to find the nurse with whom she shared this special bond and to say ‘thank you.’ During National Nurses Month 2023, the two were able to reunite for Jennifer to deliver those words in person with a hug.

Watch the reunion on KSL-TV: Utah coma patient reunites with nurse who had ‘angel’s voice’

About HCA Healthcare

HCA Healthcare, one of the nation's leading providers of healthcare services, is comprised of 183 hospitals and more than 2,300 sites of care, in 20 states and the United Kingdom. Our more than 283,000 colleagues are connected by a single purpose — to give patients healthier tomorrows.

As an enterprise, we recognize the significant responsibility we have as a leading healthcare provider within each of the communities we serve, as well as the opportunity we have to improve the lives of the patients for whom we are entrusted to care. Through the compassion, knowledge and skill of our caregivers, and our ability to leverage our scale and innovative capabilities, HCA Healthcare is in a unique position to play a leading role in the transformation of care.

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