Have you ever climbed a flight of stairs and been winded at the top?
Have you ever chased your kids in the back yard on a hot summer’s day and needed to catch your breath?
Have you ever been so excited and scared on a roller coaster that it took your breath away?
Have you ever had to decide, based on your health, whether or not you should venture out of your house?
Samantha Bealmear has. In 2015, Samantha, mother of two young children, began having symptoms like shortness of breath, coughing,and sticky phlegm that lead to upper respiratory infections and then pneumonia. Her family doctor kept treating her, but after many recurrences of the same diagnosis, she was referred to Dr. Thomas Ferry, pulmonologist, for further examination to determine the initial cause of these issues in such a young person, and how she should manage them.
Dr. Ferry spent a lot of time listening to Samantha to tease out the root of her complicated breathing issues. He guided her through symptom management, both medical management and alternative treatments, including antibiotics, breathing medications she inhaled, and percussion-vest therapy to loosen the mucus. Ultimately, it was determined that he needed to get a sample from the source, remove as much of the mucus from her lungs as possible, and determine the cause of the symptoms. Dr. Ferry felt the best way to do this was through a bronchoscopy.
After the bronchoscopy was completed, and the results were available, Dr. Ferry ensured that she understood her diagnosis and the lifelong management and care she would need. Samantha has bronchiectasis triggered initially by mold exposure. There is no cure. Samantha deals with narrowing airways that constantly fill with mucous that she can’t clear. This mucus can cause her to trap infections. The cycle is manageable, but not without a great understanding of each patient’s individual symptoms.
When a new drug treatment became available, Dr. Ferry prescribed the costly medicine for Samantha. When her insurance company denied the treatment for her, Dr. Ferry incessantly advocated for her and fought the insurance company. He completed multiple peer-to-peer reviews, staying after work to stand in the gap for his patient. He ultimately won the ability for Samantha to trial the drug to see if it would improve her symptoms. So far, she has had remarkable results.
During her most recent experience at Decatur County Memorial Hospital, Samantha praised Dr. Ferry and Kathy Miley, Dr. Ferry’s collaborating nurse practitioner, for “going above and beyond” to ensure that she recovered from her bronchoscopy well. “They were in and out of the recovery room . . . making sure that as I woke up I knew they were there,” said Samantha. “He [Dr. Ferry] would not leave my side until he knew I was better. I could not have received better care of any other place. The compassion I feel from him and his team is exceptional! Even Keisha and Kristy [Dr. Ferry and Kathy’s medical assistants] know me by name, even my voice on the phone . . . it means the world to me to know that I am never just another number.”
Samantha drives fifty minutes from her home to see Dr. Ferry at the Outpatient Pulmonary Clinic at Decatur County Memorial Hospital. She will not go to any other facility that is closer to her if she can prevent it. “The culture [at Decatur County Memorial Hospital] is unlike any I have experienced. Staff from respiratory care, the emergency room, the surgery department . . . everyone comforted me . . . very attentive, caring. I know that it has to be from the providers and the expectations they have of their staff. I have experienced this first hand from Dr. Ferry. He doesn’t want or seek out accolades . . . but he deserves them . . . and more,” said Samantha. She once asked him why he was so unlike other doctors who had treated her at much larger hospitals. Dr. Ferry said, “I shouldn’t be the exception
[to the behaviors and attitudes in healthcare] . . . it should be the standard [for all caregivers].”
Samantha is dealing with her lifelong disease the best she can – one day at a time. But that life is much sweeter under the direct medical supervision of Dr. Ferry, Kathy, and their team. Samantha declared, “Dr. Ferry has given me my life back! I was missing out on my children’s lives and my own life, but now that I know Dr. Ferry has my back – and I can trust him to help me manage my symptoms – I know I can be the mom and person I want to be – not stuck in my home. I can breathe easier, and have less anxiety about the future, knowing I have his support. He just tells me like it is . . . and we deal with it. Good or bad . . . he just makes it better – with his steady calm and funny way. I just can’t say enough about how much he has changed my life for the better.”
Do you have pulmonary issues? Visit Dr. Ferry and the Pulmonology Team at Decatur County Memorial Hospital. They are here to help you breathe easier. Dr. Ferry, Kathy Miley NP, and team are a breath of fresh air in Decatur County.