Like thousands of people before him, Vince Fevola arrived at Providence in the midst of a heart attack, badly in need of an emergency heart catheterization.
Unlike all of those other people, Vince was traveling alone from New Jersey, pulling a trailer with two horses on his way to a horse show in Florida.
Between Columbia and Florence on I-20, he pulled his truck and trailer off to the side of the road when he realized he was having a heart attack. In pain, alone and in South Carolina for the first time, he phoned for help.
When the ambulance arrived, the paramedics told Vince he was halfway between two cities with cardiac care facilities and asked where he wanted to be taken. Knowing nothing about South Carolina, he responded, "Which hospital would you take your mother to?" Without hesitation, they drove Vince to Providence Heart Institute.
When he arrived at 6:15 a.m., the staff's biggest concern was preparing him for the life-saving catheterization. But Vince's biggest concern was for the horses he left stranded out on I-20.
Naomi Land, RN, the administrative supervisor on duty, became aware of his situation and set about trying to find a solution to Vince's dilemma. "I'm a big animal lover, and I was concerned both for the patient's anxiety over his stranded horses and the horses themselves," says Naomi.
After learning that the trailer was about to be towed by state troopers to prevent a potential accident, Naomi got on the phone right away. She called coworkers Beth Anne Flanders and Mary Ann Fountain, both RNs and both horse owners.
"I contacted the only two people I knew who love animals as much as I do and who I thought could possibly give me a hand," Naomi says. Yet another RN, Stephanie Miller, drove Naomi to I-20, and they brought the trailer and horses to Providence and parked them safely behind one of the medical office buildings on campus.
Then Beth Anne and Mary Ann took over. After working the night shift, they drove to Mary Ann's home and barn 53 miles away in Bethune. Beth Anne then drove to her home in Camden, fed the 25 horses that she owns, and returned to Providence for another 12-hour shift.
Shortly thereafter, the horses were on their way back to New Jersey. Vince is also back in New Jersey now, and his family continues to be overwhelmed by a group of women who so skillfully handled a situation they were never prepared for in nursing school.