Nov 11, 2017
In recognition of Veterans Day, NYC Health + Hospitals reports on progress in the recovery of one remarkable veteran, 89-year-old James Hexner, who underwent four months of hospitalization before embarking on his current rehabilitation. “The doctors and nurses saved my life,” he said.
Last December, Mr. Hexner opened the door of his apartment off Pelham Parkway, when an acquaintance pulled a knife and stabbed him multiple times in the abdomen. Rapidly losing blood, he was rushed by EMS to the emergency department at NYC Health + Hospitals/Jacobi.
“The minute I was put into the ambulance, I blacked out,” said Mr. Hexner. “It wasn’t until several days later when I woke up that my family told me how serious my injuries were.”
In the emergency department, Dr. Srinivas Reddy, trauma surgeon, worked to stabilize Mr. Hexner and stem his bleeding. Because Mr. Hexner’s small intestine was severely damaged from puncture wounds, he was rushed to the operating room for an exploratory laparotomy and suture repair of the small intestine. The procedure involved repairing intestinal lacerations and realigning damaged areas—no small challenge given the patient’s advanced age and the trauma he had undergone, as well as the complexity of the procedure.
“When Mr. Hexner entered the emergency department, some of his organs were visible,” said Dr. Reddy. “Our emergency, surgical, and trauma teams moved in tandem to stabilize our patient and quickly perform the surgery that saved his life.”
After surgery, Mr. Hexner’s vital signs began to stabilize, but this was just the first leg of his recovery, which has included a four-month inpatient stay. In April, he transitioned to NYC Health + Hospitals/Carter, initially in its Long-Term Acute Care Hospital, still requiring a ventilator and feeding tube.
“We successfully weaned Mr. Hexner off the ventilator and feeding tube, and he now breathes on his own and eats orally,” said Dr. Pappathi Anbalagan, a physician at NYC Health + Hospitals/Carter. “He has been a true pleasure—a pleasant and funny individual who enjoys helping others. He engages actively with the staff and other residents and is motivated to improve his health status.”
Once his more acute medical issues were resolved, Mr. Hexner transitioned to NYC Health + Hospitals/Carter’s nursing facility to undergo restorative physical and occupational services.
“James, as we call him, has gone from being unable to complete a rehab session, requiring multiple breaks, to walking with minimum assistance,” said Angelique Dickens, occupational therapy supervisor. “He continues to make strides in his recovery, and his sense of humor makes him a joy to work with. He brightens the rehab gym every afternoon with his presence. He has redefined his experience as ‘reclaiming his independence.’”
“The care at Jacobi was very good,” said Mr. Hexner. “And the staff at Carter is great, too.”
James Hexner served in the U.S. Army from 1951-53 in Germany, where many U.S. soldiers were stationed, in part to help in the country’s post-war recovery and in part to be a show of force to address concerns about Russia in the early days of the Cold War.