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WellSpan BrightSpot:  On Christmas Eve, providers help fallen girl 

January 13, 2022

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Audrey Watts, nurse practitioner, and Dr. Christopher Russo, pediatric hospitalist and WellSpan’s director of pediatrics, never met until Christmas Eve, when they both stepped up to help a girl who had fainted during a church service.

Audrey Watts, nurse practitioner, and Dr. Christopher Russo, pediatric hospitalist and WellSpan’s director of pediatrics, never met until Christmas Eve, when they both stepped up to help a girl who had fainted during a church service.

Who: Audrey Watts, nurse practitioner from WellSpan Family Medicine – Herr’s Ridge; and Dr. Christopher Russo, pediatric hospitalist and WellSpan’s director of pediatrics. 

What: A young girl collapsed as she was singing in a children’s choir at a church in Gettysburg on Christmas Eve. Watts and her daughter were at the service and happened to be sitting in front of Russo and his family, though the two providers had never met. 

After the girl tumbled down the risers, Watts immediately ran to her side, with Russo on her heels. 

Watts immediately recognized Russo from WellSpan’s weekly COVID-19 Zoom calls, where he gives pediatric updates. Watts shared that she was a nurse practitioner, so both realized they were in good company. 

Russo said, “Audrey was taking care of everything. I had my medical bag in the car and ran and got it so we could do a quick exam. We got the girl to an area that was less conspicuous, and she had a second episode where she fainted.” 

The two providers assessed the girl, who shared that she hadn’t eaten that day and had not been feeling well before she started singing in the church, where it was warm and crowded. They reassured the girl that she would be OK. 

“Audrey was quick to recognize she needed to be there for the child, and I followed her lead,” Russo said. “Audrey went above and beyond. She was very compassionate with this girl.” 

The two helped the girl out of the church and into a car to take her home, with instructions for her parents to keep an eye on her and, if she had another episode, to go to the Emergency Department at WellSpan Gettysburg Hospital. 

Words to live by: 

Watts, whose daughter attends the school associated with the church, said: “It is a small community school, so you feel connected to everyone. There was a connection from being able to help, too. It was cool that Dr. Russo happened to be there. That’s the neat part of the story. We both were at the right place at the right time.” 

Russo said: “It was reflexive for both of us, from our training. You see someone in danger or difficulty, and you are trained to respond to that. What a privilege that is. 

“I think it really is the WellSpan way. And it does underscore that WellSpan is part of the community. We are not just working at our offices and in the hospitals. We are out there in the community and ready to serve, wherever it may be. Parents and other see us and know we are not just some distant person but someone you go to church with, play basketball with, or shop with. We are active members of our communities.”