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Howard Hospital Medical Professionals Move Fast to Save Girl with Meningitis

Patient Stories


Date: January 22, 2008

Contact: Anthony Stahl
Director HR/Marketing
Howard Memorial Hospital

Willits - "Its Meningitis," said Dr. Mills Matheson as he approached the family surrounding the bedside of baby Danielle. All eyes turned to look at three year old Danielle Barry as she lay so still and pale on the hospital bed in Howard Memorial Hospitals emergency room.

"For a moment I felt numb, like everything was going on around me in slow motion," commented Jodie Dalton, loving grandmother of Danielle and HMH employee. "My mind went back to the day before when things seemed so much more peaceful."

It all started on a cool Sunday morning when Danielle complained of a headache. This then turned into a fever and she began throwing up recalls Jodie. Aunt Tracy, a registered nurse, came by the house to visit her niece. She took her temperature and recommended that if Danielle was not better by morning that the family doctor should have a look.

By morning Danielle was not better. Her mom, Marcy, called Baechtel Creek Clinic, explained the situation, and though very busy Dr. Mills Matheson asked that they come over immediately.

After the check-up, Dr. Matheson admitted Danielle into the ER and ordered antibiotics to be administered. It soon became evident little Danielle was getting progressively worse. Dr. Matheson then moved forward with a spinal tap and requested the hospital lab do an analysis.

All too soon the results of meningitis were found. "Our lab team is phenomenal," says Arpad Peter, Regional Lab Director. "Its very difficult to detect this strain of meningitis and only an experienced and trained individual would have found this. I'm proud of John for his work."

When Dr. Matheson announced the results of the lab work, the ER sprang into action. An ambulance was called and transfer paperwork completed. That same day Danielle was transferred to UC Davis.

Danielle stayed seven days at UC Davis. "The medical staff at UC Davis were so impressed with the initial treatment that was given little Danielle here at our hospital in Willits," stated Dalton. They said, "We dont know much about your area, but your physicians and medical staff saved Danielle's life." Everything from the paperwork to making fast decisions on diagnosis and treatment were carried out with outstanding precision.

Little Danielle is back in Willits and while still under observation is recovering nicely. She is so thankful for what her Dr. Medicine (what she affectionately calls Dr. Matheson) did on that December day.

"We can never thank or repay the wonderful people who intervened in saving little Danielles life," says Jodie. "We want to make special mention of Dr. Matheson, Dr. Medvin, John in the Lab, Lydia in the ER, the ambulance team and those at UC Davis. There were so many people behind the scenes including the folks who called, sent flowers, visited us in the hospital, Lisa who purchased the Christmas tree, and Kenny at Willits Tire who opened at 5:30 am to fix Marcys flat. The list of those whom we would like to thank would fill up many pages. We will never forget all of you and your kindness to us."

"We know that we have guardian angels that walk among us. On that dreadful day Dr. Matheson, Lydia and John were their wings," said misty eyed Jodie.