Something wasn’t right. Fleurette “Flo” Lewis knew she needed to trust her motherly instincts. It was just a couple weeks before Thanksgiving when she was on her way to work at 7:45 am and her phone rang.
It was a call no mother wants to get. It was her 14-year-old daughter on the phone. Lewis’ oldest daughter, LaTavia “Tavia” Livingston, 17, had fallen down a flight of stairs.
“She called me screaming. ‘Tavia fell down the stairs and hit her head.’ I was a couple miles from home and I whipped across four lanes of traffic, did a U-turn and told her to call 911,” said Lewis.
By the time she got home her daughter had a knot on her forehead and her face was swelling. She was conscious but in pain. Paramedics checked her out, got the bleeding under control and verified that her vitals were stable.
“She was going down the stairs and texting on her phone. She got to step four and tumbled with her feet over her head. The steps are carpeted but she smacked her head on a door at the bottom. I wasn’t comfortable not taking her to the hospital so I took her as a precaution,” said Lewis.
At the first checkup Lewis was told that if her daughter had a concussion she’d probably have some forgetfulness, headaches and nausea. She was sent home.
By the next day, Tavia was sleepy, lethargic and complaining of headaches. She slept all day and began vomiting in the middle of the night. Again, Lewis’ motherly instincts kicked in. She took her daughter back to the same hospital where they conducted a CT scan and gave her anti-nausea medication.
Back home, the vomiting and dizziness continued. “I just knew something was terribly wrong,” said Lewis. She bundled her daughter up and took her to IU Health Methodist Hospital ER where she was treated for an elevated heart rate and dehydration. Another CT scan was performed and Tavia was admitted for observation.
“It was amazing the difference in the care we got,” said Lewis. “They saw things that made them question what was happening to her body and discovered she has Type 2 diabetes. It wasn’t because of clumsiness but because she was suffering from diabetes that caused her to fall.”
As a result of the care her daughter received, Lewis made a decision to change jobs and applied to work with IU Health.
“I’ve been in healthcare for 17 years and my love of caring for people has not wavered or changed. What happened to my daughter made me even more conscious to watch and be aware of how I treat people and to be more empathetic,” said Lewis, who received her medical assistant certification last May and was recently hired to work at the IU Health Neuroscience Center.
“My job is to check patients in and check patients out, take vitals and make sure that even if they are having a bad day, they feel a sense of comfort and security – that they have a positive experience with IU Health,” said Lewis.
And what about Tavia?
She is controlling her diabetes with medicine and is what Lewis describes as a “typical teenager.” She’s a senior at Lawrence North High School where she is active in Black Student Union, Girl Empowerment Movement, and Gospel Choir. She works part time at IHop and is an honor roll student considering a career in marine biology or biomedical engineering.
“I feel like while another hospital dismissed us prematurely, IU Health aired on the side of caution,” said Lewis. “The ER workers were very knowledgeable and treated her like a person, not a number. I feel like they saved her life.”
— By T.J. Banes, Journalist, IU Health.
Reach Banes via email firstname.lastname@example.org.