A Bourne Couple Discovers Tobey Hospital’s Lifesaving Emergency Department

David Tipping thought he’d recovered from COVID in October 2023, but the disease had hit him harder than he knew, and he soon found himself fighting for his life in the Tobey Hospital Emergency Department.

David traces his problem to five years before, when a year of immunotherapy treatments for metastatic melanoma left him with adrenal insufficiency. The condition reduces his ability to fight illness because his adrenal glands cannot produce cortisol, which reduces inflammation.

COVID kept David home for a week before he felt well enough to resume his duties as a vice president of Bristol County Savings Bank. But after a week back in the office, David started suffering fatigue, weakness, fever and body aches. Nauseous and dizzy, he collapsed on the bathroom floor at home and didn’t know where he was.

“I was so scared,” said his wife, Ann McCrillis Tipping, who decided to call an ambulance — despite the resistance of her husband, who insisted he was fine.

“You have to understand, I’m normally an independent, energetic and strong-willed person,” David said. “I never experienced anything like it in my life and hope I never do so again.”

From the moment the ambulance pulled up to the couple’s Bourne home, Ann felt they were in good hands, although she was concerned when the EMTs said they were bringing David to the Tobey Hospital Emergency Department.

“We had never been to Tobey before, so I was a little nervous,” she said. “But the EMTs were outstanding. When the ambulance arrived at the hospital, a nurse was waiting for us, and everything went well from there.”

Ann’s main fear was that her husband’s complicated medical history, which unfolded mainly in Boston hospitals, would be unknown to Tobey’s providers. She was relieved to see they could access his whole record of care through Epic, the electronic health record system used by hospitals throughout the country.

Tests revealed that David had a urinary tract infection and was suffering from severe sepsis, a potentially fatal condition involving an overly aggressive response to infection that prevents the body’s organs from working properly.

“I asked the emergency room physician Dr. Michele Grossman to tell us exactly what she meant,” Ann said. “I didn’t want to hear medical talk; I wanted her to speak plainly. She said, ‘He is critically ill, and we are taking lifesaving measures.’ It gave us a better understanding of exactly what was happening.”  

David was stabilized enough in the ED to move to the Intensive Care Unit, where he spent three days. After an additional three days on a general floor, he was cleared to return home. Three weeks later, he returned to work, and with the weather improving, he now looks forward to a summer of kayaking, fishing and other water activities. 

“Everyone — the EMTs, the nurses, the technicians, Dr. Grossman and the attending physician Dr. Ajith Matthew — was fantastic,” David said. “They were attentive and responsive to questions. Because of their teamwork and cooperation, they quickly diagnosed my problem. Epic enabled them to access my medical history. I can’t say enough.”

Ann also liked the fact that Tobey Hospital was nearby. “We will definitely go back to Tobey if we need hospital care. I would certainly tell anyone to go to Tobey Hospital. Everyone involved in Dave’s care was excellent.”