Susan Bailey has worked in health care over the last three decades, starting as a critical care nurse before becoming a chief executive officer at several hospitals across the U.S. But in November 2020, the roles reversed.
To this day, she doesn’t remember the helicopter ride that took her to a hospital after her traumatic brain injury in South Florida. Despite two CT scans, care providers initially missed an aneurysm. She consulted a second neurosurgeon, who discovered that she did in fact suffer an aneurysm, in addition to a skull fracture, lacerations and hemorrhaging.
Despite the diagnostics showing aneurysm, the second neurosurgeon told Bailey she was OK. When she asked him what her chance of blood vessel rupture was, he gave her a low percentage — just 1% in five years. Not liking those odds, Bailey wanted to connect with a brain aneurysm specialist.
Through a series of connections between her family and the Brain Aneurysm Foundation, Bailey was introduced to Brian L. Hoh, M.D., M.B.A., FACS, FAHA, FAANS. Hoh, who serves as chair of the Lillian S. Wells Department of Neurosurgery at the UF College of Medicine, is also on the Medical Advisory Board at the Brain Aneurysm Foundation.
She contacted Hoh’s office on a Wednesday. By the following Monday, she was scheduled for her consultation. She remembers how he reassured her during that consultation, noting that he spends his life focusing on aneurysm research and care.
Hoh reviewed her scans and showed her where she had bled. Thanks to his expertise, he recognized the severity of the situation. He noted that Bailey was characterized as a misdiagnosis, and that many patients don’t survive. She needed to go to the OR immediately.
Seventeen days after her collapse, Bailey was preparing for an operation more than 250 miles from her home.
“I walked around from Nov. 3 and bled until he did my surgery on Nov. 20,” Bailey said. “I’m very, very fortunate.”
She remembers going into the OR hoping to live, but unsure of her outcome.
As uncertainty mounted, Bailey found comfort from the OR team. The chief anesthesiologist gathered his colleagues for the surgical timeout, which ended with every team member meeting Bailey and explaining their role in her surgery. She said that experience in the OR before surgery really grounded her, and it’s something she will never forget.