Larry Morrison

"As far as I'm concerned, every nurse at Harrington Hospital has the same last name, ‘Angel.' "

Larry Morrison, Sturbridge 

Larry Morrison went into his backyard in Sturbridge in February to toss out a holiday wreath. A recent snowstorm had dumped a foot of snow on the region, covering some patches of ice in the yard. He was planning to be outdoors for only a few moments.

"Then I lost my footing and fell with my left leg bent all the way back. It was a freefall -- flush onto my kneecap," he recalled. "In one instant I was perfectly fine, and in the next instant, I felt my entire body go to war. I was in excruciating pain. I heard myself shriek, and it seemed almost not to be coming from me."

Larry pulled up his pant leg and noticed his kneecap was almost double in size, and off center. Crawling and dragging himself, unable to use his left leg, he somehow made it to his house. Larry managed to reach his daughter by phone, and she drove him to the Emergency Care Center at Harrington Hospital in Southbridge.

Once at the Emergency Department, he crossed the threshold and was immediately wheeled into a room, where a patient care assistant, then a physician, appeared in seconds. Dr. Giza High examined him, gave him a preliminary diagnosis of a ruptured patellar tendon and, almost instantly, he was brought to X-Ray.

"What was interesting to me is that I suddenly felt like I was the audience in the theatre and various characters were coming to me and then leaving, like actors coming from the wings offstage," he said. "Everyone seemed to know exactly what their role was, and they executed it perfectly. It seemed that everything happened slow and fast -- simultaneously. Slow, because everyone was handling me with great care, and fast because nobody was wasting any time. I had this marked impression, from the moment I arrived in the ER, that the entire hospital had been standing around waiting for me to show up."

Larry is a member of Harrington's Board of Directors, but, he recalls, when he was ushered into the Emergency Care Center, he didn't know anyone, and no one caring for him seemed to know him or know who he was.

"I don't think anyone taking care of me knew or cared who I was," he said. "I never said a word; the subject never came up, with the patient care assistants, physicians, technicians. To them, I was just some guy who came through the door. I saw them treat everyone this way."

The X-Ray and an MRI of Larry's knee confirmed Dr. High's diagnosis of a patellar tendon rupture, and Larry was told he needed surgery that would be performed by Dr. Young-Ho Oh, an orthopedic surgeon on the Harrington Physician Services staff.

Larry's fall and his trip to the Emergency Care Center took place on a Friday. The next Monday, three days later, after being examined by Dr. Oh, Larry was brought into the Operating Room.

"Everyone, the nurses, the patient care assistant, gave me the clear impression that all they had to do was take care of me," he said. "They didn't have anything else on earth to care about. They had one thing in their entire life to do, and that was to pay attention to my condition."

Following successful surgery and an overnight stay, Larry was fitted with a walking brace, was given detailed post-op instructions, came in for follow-up visits, and was always treated with the same attentive, personalized care he had experienced since he first arrived at the Emergency Care Center the day he fell.

Everyone seemed to have all the time in the world to care for him, give him special instructions, make follow-up appointments, and, in general, make sure he received the correct care.

"As far as I'm concerned, every nurse at Harrington Hospital has the same last name, ‘Angel.' "

Today, Larry is walking around, brace free, with little ill effect from his fall in the snow in February.

"When I look at my knee now, there's no scab -- there's no nothing. When I went into the ER, my kneecap was three inches north of where it belonged."