BLOG: A JCMC patient, an operating room and a plea for help

JOHNSON CITY, TN (WJHL) – Tuesday, July 18 at 1:26 pm.

That’s the exact moment an email stopped me in my tracks.

The three pictures that accompanied the four-paragraph email, which showed serious injuries to an 89-year-old woman, made me put my hand over my mouth in disbelief.

I’m looking at one of Melba Lowe’s pictures as I write this. It’s a heartbreaking image.

In that moment, I didn’t know Karen Mazzei and Frank Huff, but I felt their pain. Over the next six weeks or so we’d get to know each other well. We talked by phone, met twice, exchanged almost 20 emails and nearly twice as many text messages.

The siblings wanted answers. Their mother went in for a routine procedure at Johnson City Medical Center, but came out with a black eye, a broken nose, an arm tear and a cut on her face. They tried to get those answers on their own, even hiring an attorney, without any luck. They needed help, so Mazzei emailed me.

“Bottom line – the family would like to know what actually happened in the OR,” Mazzei said in that initial email.

In this business, there is no greater gift than when people give you their full trust to tell their story. It’s a responsibility I don’t take lightly.

In the weeks since that first email, Mountain States Health Alliance met with the family, the organization released specifics to us about what occurred in the operating room and MSHA”s CEO eventually, after multiple interview requests, took responsibility on-camera for what the woman endured.

We’ll tell you what our investigation uncovered Tuesday at 6 pm on News Channel 11.

In the meantime, I’ll leave you with this text message. Mazzei sent it to me on Friday, August 18 at 12:49 pm, just hours after we interviewed CEO Alan Levine.

“You will never know what you have done for me,” Mazzei said.

To know you’ve touched someone’s life during one of her worst possible moments is a feeling I will never forget.

Copyright WJHL 2017. All rights reserved.

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