Articles of Interest

The following are published articles on family members:

Leona Mason


     Tuesday, July 19, 2005
Denver, CO


Article Launched: 07/19/2005 04:36:20 AM


Grandma,surgeons are works of heart


     

     

     

     

     

Leona Mason, 82, who survived a ruptured chest aneurysm this year, talks with Dr. Maurice Lyons a month after the surgery at St. Joseph s Hospital in Denver. Mason, who lives in Holyoke, wanted to thank the doctors who operated on her torn aorta. This was a big case. To see her as well as she is is remarkable. Lyons said. (Post / Andy Cross)

     

     


Leona Mason's journey started with a sudden, unbearable pain in her chest.

Ordinarily, the 82-year-old grandmother is pretty tough and very independent - she has a car but says she prefers to walk everywhere. But when the pain hit, Mason said, "I knew I had to have help."

Getting that help took Mason from her Holyoke home to a Greeley hospital this spring. A day later, she was on a helicopter, heading to Denver for surgery so unusual doctors didn't even have all the tools they needed to perform it.

What the surgical team did have was a rare, perhaps once-in-a-career kind of opportunity to both break medical ground and, they hoped, save a life.

When he first got the call, Dr. Maurice Lyons thought his colleague in Greeley must be mistaken - a patient with a torn aorta couldn't possibly still be alive.

"'I know that, and you know that,"' Lyons recalls the colleague, Dr. Ken Richards, telling him. "'But she's sitting here with a blood pressure of 110."'

Mason had an aneurysm that had ruptured and torn her aorta, the main artery that directs blood from the heart to other parts of the body.

And somehow, she was alive.

Doctors often see patients with abdominal aneurysms and tears. They have approved, tested procedures for repairing them and saving patients' lives.

Not so with tears so close to the heart.

"Usually, after seven or eight beats of the heart, they are dead," Lyons said.

Over the phone, Lyons told Richards he would operate. Richards relayed the news to Mason, who, still alert, agreed, knowing the procedure would include improvisation.

"I was just in their hands," she said.

Besides, with her son a doctor and her daughter a nurse, Mason said she has confidence in the medical profession.

After that, Mason doesn't remember much, except the bumpy helicopter ride from Greeley.

"I mean it was rough," she said.

When Mason arrived at St. Joseph Hospital, her blood pressure had dropped to 60/40 and she had lost consciousness.

"She was spiraling. She was dying," Lyons said.

Hospital staff raced her into an operating room, where the surgical crew was waiting with an array of makeshift and jury-rigged equipment.

"We did this kind of off-label," said Dr. Joseph Krysl, a radiologist who also treated Mason.

Krysl had to borrow pieces of equipment from Presbyterian/St. Luke's Medical Center next door.

To get the four stents they would need to rebuild Mason's artery, the surgical team had to get creative, Lyons said.

They had no choice.

"There currently are no FDA-approved thoracic grafts," Krysl said.

There's little use for them, he explained, because the likelihood is virtually nil of a patient surviving a chest aneurysm long enough to get into the operating room.

"We had to use junk we had lying around," he said.

It all worked. After a few days, Mason went home.

Recently, she came back to St. Joseph for a checkup and a chance to chat with the doctors who saved her life.

"This was a big case. To see her as well as she is is remarkable," Lyons said.

Mason is grateful - and making the most of the time she has left.

"The Lord has got a job for me, or I wouldn't be here," she said.

Staff writer Karen Augé can be reached at 303-820-1733 or kauge@denverpost.com.


Douglas Parkin

Dr. Doug Parkin

Steven King/Dispatch

Dr. Doug Parkin

Dr. Doug Parkin discusses his long career as a physician with Cottonwood Medical Center on Wednesday morning in Casa Grande. Parkin is retiring from the practice after more than 35 years of service.

Posted: Friday, January 29, 2016 8:05 am

By KEVIN REAGAN, Staff Writer

CASA GRANDE — Dr. Douglas Parkin said there are days when he feels more like a secretary instead of a medical professional.

He’s been practicing pediatric and internal medicine in Casa Grande for 37 years and said he’s recently reached a breaking point that’s influenced his decision to retire at the end of this month.

He said the increasing amount of paperwork he’s expected to file since the Affordable Care Act took effect in 2010 has shifted his attention away from patient care.

On a given weekday, Parkin estimated seeing about 28 patients in 10-minute intervals. That leaves little time in between for the necessary paperwork, so he said he may spend up to six hours outside the office catching up.

“Everything has just turned into this giant paperwork mill,” Parkin said. “When I started, none of that existed.”

In the early 1980s, after Parkin arrived in Casa Grande, it was an era when the doctor still made house calls.

“It was very simple,” he said. “You didn’t have to go through all these channels to get somebody approved for an MRI or CAT scan.”

Medicine was always a “calling” for Parkin. After earning his degree in 1968, he spent a few years in the Army and then practicing in Coolidge. He’s also repeatedly done volunteer work in Africa.

The evolution of medicine that’s occurred since Parkin began practicing has produced its fair share of benefits and faults, he said — though he can’t help but feel there is “something lost” in practicing medicine now.   

Parkin is not alone in feeling overburdened in the medical field.

The Physicians Foundation surveyed 20,000 doctors in 2014 and found that 81 percent described feeling “over-extended” or at “full capacity.”

Forty-four percent of surveyed doctors were planning to take steps to reduce access to their services by either curbing patient load, working part-time, retiring or switching to a non-clinical position.

The Arizona Medical Association reportedly has not seen a recent trend of doctors leaving the profession due to paperwork demands, according to a spokesman. 

Parkin’s retirement doesn’t mean he’ll leave medicine entirely. He and his wife, Alice, a registered nurse, will continue managing the free Stanfield Medical Clinic on a monthly basis. The couple began operating the clinic about six years ago, and they treat up to 40 patients at a time. 

Retiring from his practice is bittersweet for Parkin. He’ll miss serving the community and interacting with patients, though he’s glad to leave behind the piles of paperwork.


Stanfield Free Medical Clinic

LaVerne Pulliam

Melissa St. Aude/Dispatch photo

LaVerne Pulliam

LaVerne Pulliam of Arizona City drives 42 miles to the clinic once a month to serve snacks to patients in the waiting room.

Posted: Saturday, October 8, 2016 10:58 am

By MELISSA ST. AUDE Staff Writer

STANFIELD

When patients walk into Stanfield Medical Clinic, Sharon Smith is often the first face they see.

She and her fellow volunteers find charts, sign-in patients and put them in a queue to see the doctor.

“Sometimes it’s so busy we’re here until 10 o’clock at night,” she said.

But no matter how busy the once-a-month clinic is, Smith said she wants each patient’s visit to be a positive one. She knows firsthand the stress people might be feeling when they walk through the door, often hesitant, uninsured and in need of medical care.

She was once in their shoes.

Smith was a clinic patient herself several years ago when she was uninsured, sick and needed to see a doctor. She didn’t have the money to pay for an office visit, so she drove from Casa Grande to Stanfield, where she could be seen free of charge at the clinic, which is tucked away in the community room of First Baptist Church.

She received the treatment she needed and said gratitude set in soon after.

“I just wanted to help,” she said.

The following month she showed up at the clinic and asked to volunteer. She’s been volunteering just about every month ever since.

“I wanted to give back,” she said. “All my life I’ve volunteered wherever I could.”

As well as greeting patients at the clinic, Smith often brings coloring pages for the children to keep them occupied while they’re in the clinic waiting room. In the winter months, when cold and flu season brings more children to the clinic, she brings a DVD player and a movie for the kids to watch.

Sponsored by Seeds of Hope, a faith-based nonprofit, Stanfield Medical Clinic serves anyone in need including adults and children and those who don’t have insurance or the funds to pay a doctor.

Once a month, usually on the first Wednesday, the clinic opens its doors and dozens flow in seeking treatment.

Much of the year, the clinic averages about 35 patients a night but in the winter, upwards of 50 people walk through the door.

The clinic is staffed entirely by volunteers. From the doctor who sees patients to the nurses, translators, clerks and helpers who manage the files and clean the rooms, no one is paid.

“We’ve got the best volunteers in the world,” said Alice Parkin, a nurse and volunteer coordinator who runs the clinic with her husband, Dr. Doug Parkin. “They just show up and do their work.”

For three years, LaVerne Pulliam of Arizona City has driven 42 miles to the clinic each month to distribute snacks, at her own expense, to people in the waiting room.

“I try to bring something nutritious and filling like crackers or peanuts,” she said. “For me, it’s an honor to serve.”

Alice Parkin said some of the clinic’s volunteers come from area churches, some from organizations like Zonta Club and others simply want to help.

Members of the Casa Grande Lions Club are on hand at each clinic. They maintain a small area in the back of the community room where they provide vision screenings for adults.

While the vision screenings are provided at the clinic, the effort is separate from the clinic.

Some people show up just for the vision check and most leave with either a pair of reading glasses or a referral to an area eye doctor for further evaluation.

Over the years, the Lions have helped hundreds of people see a little more clearly, said Casa Grande Lions Club Secretary Cheryl Seat.

“If they need assistance paying for prescription glasses, there’s a form for them to fill out,” Seat said. “We refer them to America’s Best and once they provide the documentation that they need prescription glasses, we pay.”

Last year, the Casa Grande Lions Club paid for 46 pairs of prescription glasses for Stanfield Medical Clinic patients.

The club’s vision check machine at the clinic isn’t suitable for children, but the organization will soon have a camera that can be used to check the eyesight of young kids.

A special, quiet room in the church will be set up for children’s vision checks by the end of the year, Seat said.

“The reward of helping out is beyond any monetary value,” said David Blatt, a member of the Lions Club, who volunteers in the vision-check room each month with his wife, Jo-Ann.

In the main part of the clinic, Parkin said about 12 volunteers are usually on hand to keep things running smoothly. Most of the patients need help managing hypertension or diabetes. In the winter, the flu, colds and other illnesses are more common.

A dozen volunteers is enough to handle the workload, she said, but the clinic does need an additional volunteer doctor, a physician’s assistant and a few more nurse practitioners.

The Parkins have run the clinic for more than eight years. The Casa Grande couple has also volunteered their medical services on many international humanitarian mission trips, including several visits to rural Ghana.

Medical professionals interested in helping at the clinic may email Parkin at dnaparkin@yahoo.com.

Those who’d like to assist the Lions Club may call Seat at 520-858-9777.


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