Faith has been called the absence of fear. With a strong Christian faith borne of deeply held family values and religious convictions, Charles Prescott, 55, is not a man to frighten easily.
Not when his father collapsed in front of him when he was a teenager. Not when Scud missiles were exploding around him in Kuwait during Operation Desert Storm. And, most definitely not when a rare complication landed Charles in the emergency room at Florida Hospital Fish Memorial.
Charles, Lake Mary/West Volusia Market President for First Southern Bank, has a history with Florida Hospital dating back nearly 40 years. His father was 37 when he had a massive heart attack at home in Longwood. Just 17, Charles recalled how dedicated physicians and nurses at what is now Florida Hospital South labored over his dad. His father’s life was saved, Charles said, and his father then made lifestyle changes to strengthen and repair his heart. Charles’ father is now 75 and lives with his mother in Lakeland.
Despite his family history, however, it wasn’t his heart that brought Charles to Florida Hospital Fish Memorial in 2008.
“I thought it was a virus,” Charles said, describing his flu-like symptoms. An appointment with his primary-care physician, Humberto Dominguez, MD, convinced him otherwise. Realizing that Charles was critically dehydrated, Dr. Dominguez ordered him to the emergency room at Florida Hospital Fish Memorial.
There, as fluids and nutrients were infused into Charles’s bloodstream, tests revealed a blockage of some kind in his small intestine. General surgeon Jeremy Steinbaum, MD, explained to Charles how he would detect and correct the problem.
Imagine, for a second, that the 27 feet of your small intestine is a phone cord. Throughout the course of a day of phone calls, the cord can get twisted and makes it difficult to use. In a similar manner, when the intestines get twisted—a rare but potentially life-threatening situation occurs—surgical intervention is necessary.
Dr. Steinbaum explained that he would perform a minimally invasive procedure to correct the twisted small intestine. Entering Charles’s abdomen through three small incisions, Dr. Steinbaum got the “kinks” out of the small intestine, and sutured Charles back up.
Shortly after his surgery, Charles said he began experiencing flu-like symptoms again. The nurses called Dr. Steinbaum, who inserted a naso-gastric tube into Charles, and used the opportunity as a teaching moment for the nurses who had gathered around his bed.
Charles, who at the time was a Ph.D. candidate, said he was impressed that Dr. Steinbaum had not only quickly averted a crisis, but also had taken the time to share his knowledge with staff. Dr. Steinbam also acknowledged that the previous surgery to correct the intestinal blockage had not been successful. However, he looked Charles in the eye and told him, “I will find it – and I will fix it.”
Dr. Steinbaum then explained that he would search—with his skilled surgeon’s hands—inch-by-painstaking inch of Charles’s small intestine. As Dr. Steinbaum was explaining the upcoming surgery, Charles had no doubt that he could fix the problem. “He is sharp, quick, intelligent, and highly focused,” Charles said. “He’s a rare find.”
Now, completely recovered and “Better than I was before,” Charles has high praise for the Lord Jesus Christ and all his caregivers – he estimated that a team of 30 nurses cared for him during his recovery in the intensive-care unit. He still remembers one nurse who sang beautiful hymns as she worked.
As part of his church’s hospital ministry, Charles said he is used to coming to Florida Hospital Fish Memorial and visiting patients. “There are amazing stories that happen here all the time,: Charles said. “The hospital is an integral part of the community,”