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Saying “Thank You”—One Month at a Time

Lifesaving Measures, Thoughtful Care Prompt Los Angeles Couple to Honor Emergency Department Staff with Monthly Donation

Last Thanksgiving, Leimert Park residents Patrick and Stacy Sullivan woke up ready for a holiday feast with their family. The Sullivans had no idea where the day would take them—or that they would need an ambulance to get there.

But just a few minutes later, Patrick, who was diagnosed with epilepsy in 2008, had a life-threatening seizure. He was rushed by ambulance to Cedars-Sinai’s Emergency Department. That visit would be his third emergency visit to Cedars-Sinai in 12 years.

The Sullivans thought their holiday plans were ruined. But Patrick was treated quickly and the Sullivans’ family celebration went forward as planned.  

“There’s a high medical standard of excellence at Cedars-Sinai. Cedars-Sinai is the gold standard,” said Patrick Sullivan. “I’ve always had respect for nurses. The medical staff saved my life.”

The Sullivans’ emergency medicine history began in 2011, when a throbbing pain in Patrick’s neck intensified. After paramedics brought Patrick to Cedars-Sinai, doctors told the Sullivans that the pain was caused by bacterial meningitis and pneumonia. Patrick was placed on a ventilator and put in a medically induced coma for 10 days in the intensive care unit.

“It’s just like Cedars-Sinai magic or something, how quickly the immunologist was able to identify the strain and what caused it, and how they were able to prescribe the right antibiotics to target that,” said Stacy Sullivan, a former Cedars-Sinai employee who still works in healthcare. “It was almost miraculous.”

Ten years later, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, Patrick suffered an epileptic episode so severe, he fractured his back and had to be fitted for a brace.

“The nurses and doctors were probably so overwhelmed because of the pandemic, but everybody was so professional, had smiles on their faces and did such an amazing job. I just don’t think they’re thanked enough,” said Stacy.

After the emergency care Patrick received on Thanksgiving, the Sullivans decided to express their heartfelt gratitude with more than words. They committed to giving a $50 monthly donation for the rest of their lives to the Cedars-Sinai Emergency Department.

Sam Torbati, MD, co-chair and medical director of Cedars-Sinai’s Emergency Department says patients likeSam Torbati, MD the Sullivans are the reason why the emergency staff works tirelessly every day. 

“We often treat people on some of the worst days of their live,” Torbati said. “The Sullivans have taken what could be a bad memory and turned it into something that will help so many others. We are grateful for patients like them.”

The couple says the donation is in honor of dedicated staff members like Luke Derry, MSN, the nurse who treated Patrick that day.

“Luke was absolutely wonderful. He did everything he possibly could to make sure we were able to get home to spend as much time as we could with our family. He made sure my husband was doing well,” said Stacy.

Derry says he considers it part of his job to put patients at ease. “I’m in a really special position to help patients. Everyone comes in here and it’s their worst day. No one plans on coming to the emergency department, especially on holidays. So that’s when you have to really dig deep and have empathy for the patients.”  

“We are always pleased to hear that patients have had a positive, healing experience at Cedars-Sinai,” said Arthur J. Ochoa, senior vice president of Advancement and chief advancement officer at Cedars-Sinai. “We are grateful that the Sullivans chose to single out Luke for his outstanding care.”

The Sullivans’ commitment to Cedars-Sinai and the healthcare field is not only linked to their future but also their past.

Patrick’s grandmother, Margareta Stork, was a nurse who owned the former Ramona Hospital in the San Fernando Valley, a private facility she ran with relatives in the mid-20th century and which later was sold to new owners.

“I guess you could say healthcare is in our veins. That’s why our treatment at Cedars-Sinai matters so much to us, both as patients and as the descendant of healthcare providers,” said Patrick.

Read more on the Cedars-Sinai Blog: New Horizons in Refractory Epilepsy Therapy