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Physician’s Generosity Helps Save a Life January 8, 2010

FOR MORE INFORMATION, contact Steve Crawford at 706/828-2393.

Physician’s Generosity Helps Save a Life

AUGUSTA, GA. (Dec. 24, 2009) – It seemed like a choice between staying in the hospital or paying his rent. But for George Braatz, it turned out to be a choice between life and death.

For months, Mr. Braatz had been having episodes of shortness of breath, but he put off seeing a physician until he would qualify for company health insurance on Jan. 1.

Just two weeks away from that milestone, he couldn’t hold off any longer. He called an ambulance.

University Hospital’s Emergency Department physicians were able to help him breathe, but they told him he was still very sick.

“I felt like he needed to be admitted to the hospital because I was very concerned about his heart,” said Charlotte Newman, M.D., an emergency medicine physician who treated Mr. Braatz that day.

But Mr. Braatz didn’t want to be admitted. He argued with nurses and physicians for more than an hour, refusing to budge.

“He said he’d rather be dead than go back out on the streets and if he stayed in the hospital that is exactly where he was going to end up,” Dr. Newman said.

Dr. Newman said that was when she learned from Mr. Braatz’ nurse, Lisa Patten, that a week’s rent at the Gordon Highway motel where he was living was $175.

To Dr. Newman, the solution seemed obvious. “I walked back in and told him, ‘I will pay your rent if you stay to get treated.’”

Mr. Braatz was dumbfounded. After realizing the offer was serious, he agreed.

He was admitted and a cardiologist soon determined the 56-year-old man had three serious arterial blockages that required stents to correct. He was back at work a week later.

“I was on the verge of open heart surgery,” Mr. Braatz said. “I would never have made it two more weeks.”

He said he will be forever grateful for Dr. Newman’s kindness.

“She changed my mind. She’s the one that saved my life,” Mr. Braatz said.

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