By Clint Confehr
NASHVILLE, TN — Retired Metro Schools teacher Jimmie Hill thanks “God, Metro General and the ambulance crew,” and she wants everybody to know it.
“They brought the sunshine back in,” says Hill, 72, of North Nashville, who was rushed to the closest hospital which she alternately calls “Meharry General,” an apt title given current controversy.
Still somewhat “short of breath” Feb. 3, Hill spoke 22 minutes on the phone about her pneumonia, flu and what happened Jan. 24-31, stopping to praise saviors on earth and in heaven since her fall at home on Hummingbird Drive. The maladies befell her as Nashville politicians debate the future of Metro’s safety net hospital.
Controversy has swirled for months since Mayor Megan Barry proposed making Metro General an outpatient clinic and ambulatory surgery center; shifting indigent care to other hospitals.
“We have heard all this, but Meharry General was superb,” Hill said. “The main thing is that I was showered with a compassionate glow from the doctors, the nurses and the residents … trying to make my recovery easy and simple, and I was very, very satisfied with my stay there. I was on a breathing machine a couple of days … After the tubing was removed, I was in the ICU and then went up on a higher floor. They followed up with home health care with people making sure that my recovery is continuing.”
Hill’s sister, Lucille McKinley of Split Oak Trail, Antioch, agrees.
“We hope others could tour General because of a lot of fake information that people are getting from that side of town,” McKinley said. “From my side of town, Meharry is alive and well.”
All this as killer flu grips America.
“Everybody coming to me had to wear a mask,” Hill said. “It’s really a feeling of humbleness when you come though this much.”
Hill spoke clearly about health care workers “keeping oxygen in my body so it didn’t do anything to my memory … I have never passed out before in my life.”
Ironically, Hill’s primary care physician at Vanderbilt University Medical Center is further from her home.
“This is why I started thinking differently because we have got to have something closer for emergencies,” Hill said. “If you’re at the closer one, you’re going to get treatment sooner…
“Kudos to the medical team that came. I called 911 and had fallen and knew I’d have to open the door. When they came, I was on the floor and they were equipped to handle it. I was totally out and couldn’t tell them anything.”
Medical staffers contacted her family.
“When I opened my eyes, I couldn’t talk because of the tube down my throat, but I was aware because my family was there and people were constantly doing this and that…
“I get my flu shot every year and my pneumonia shot. Everything I’m supposed to do, I do. I take vitamins. I’m active socially … pretty good for my age.”
Hill’s sister says, “Meharry needs … more people with insurance to come for treatment … Meharry is a good hospital. It has been proven to us.
“We’re not saying, ‘Don’t go to the big hospitals,’” McKinley said. “And they want to take money from the hospital and give it to transit and soccer.”
Born in Lebanon, Hill taught for 36 years in Nashville at Howard School during integration, next at Percy Priest off Otter Creek Pike and then at Wade Elementary off Ashland City Highway. In retirement, she was a student teacher supervisor at David Lipscomb University. She’ll be 73 June 24.