Training, quick thinking save lives


Janeeka Harris


By Jenny White

Monday, July 15, 2019

The day Janeeka Harris saved a woman from suffering from serious effects of a stroke started out like any other day.

Harris, 25, works in the radiology department on the ground floor of Nash UNC Health Care’s Nash General Hospital, where outpatients come for X-rays and ultrasounds.

Harris registers and processes patients before their radiology procedures. She confirms their name, insurance and gets all the correct paperwork filled out. She said it’s typically a brief interaction.

“I really love to interact with patients. Being part of getting them in and out quickly so they can find out what they need to know to get better is something I’m good at,” she said.

Harris said she frequently sees patients who don’t feel well, and at first that particular day she wasn’t too alarmed by the patient’s demeanor.

“This patient was with her daughter and was in a wheelchair. I thought she might be really tired or sick to her stomach — she had been vomiting. I was thinking, ‘I think this woman has something going on, but her daughter is with her and would know best,’ so I went ahead and started checking her in for her procedure,” she said.

But once Harris was face to face with the patient, she made a decision to stop working on getting the patient an ultrasound and work on getting her medical assistance.

“I was worried I might be wrong, but I really thought this patient needed some medical care — and not an ultrasound,” Harris remembered. “I went and found a radiology tech and told them the patient needed medical attention. They agreed and took her down the hall to the emergency department.”

Harris said the patient was having trouble understanding her, wasn’t able to pull her insurance card out of her wallet and seemed to have a hard time staying awake.

“Combined with the vomiting and some other past health information I was getting from the daughter, I thought about the signs of stroke I had been taught about here at work. I decided to get her some help,” Harris recounted.

After arriving in the emergency department, the patient was quickly diagnosed as having a stroke.

Patient Access Supervisor Charlie Hines praised Harris’ quick thinking and immediate action that she believes helped save this patient’s life.

“Thanks to Janeeka’s observation of stroke symptoms and quick thinking, the patient was able to receive the care she needed immediately,” Hines said. “We are so appreciative of Janeeka for being alert and observant while registering patients for procedures. Janeeka practiced No Passing Zone by being proactive in observing her patient’s status and immediately responding to this patient’s needs by seeking medical help promptly.”

No Passing Zone is a component of Carolina Care, which is a program used at Nash UNC and across the UNC Health Care system which trains staff of all disciplines to provide a consistent, caring, highly positive patient and family experience.

The patient Harris sent to the emergency department was able to get a quick diagnosis and treatment.

Harris insists she didn’t do anything special.

“I just did my job, what I’m supposed to do. Even though I just check people in, I’m supposed to offer good patient care. That’s what I did,” she said.

Harris, one semester shy of graduating from Elizabeth City State University, said she hopes to finish her college degree but has learned she loves working with the public.

“I really like it. Working with patients, you just never know what’s going to come through that door.” she said.

Harris said she’s not 100 percent sure what direction her career will take her, but she is 100 percent sure working hard and doing a good job will open doors for anyone starting out at an entry level job. Harris started out part-time at Nash UNC Health Care and has been there for a year. She’s worked full-time in the radiology department since December, and has received numerous thank you letters from patients and family members for going above and beyond to help them.

Harris said she loves her work — and making her mom proud.

“She’s worked here at Nash UNC for 40 years, so that’s probably where I get my work ethic from. She loves that I’m working here so she can check on me,” Harris said with a laugh.