Tracy Riffle's Story

After 34 years of marriage, Greg and Tracy Riffle of Mound were inseparable. They met while both working as flight attendants, and enjoy traveling, boating and spending time with family. In November 2021, after both being vaccinated, Tracy tested positive for COVID-19. She was immunosuppressed due to an auto-immune disease and her health quickly declined. Greg was concerned. “I’m not a doctor. I’m not a nurse. I don’t know how to treat a COVID patient,” said Greg. “Unfortunately, Tracy did get worse.” Greg drove Tracy to Ridgeview’s Norman and Ann Hoffman Emergency Department in Waconia. Due to COVID visitor restrictions, Greg was unable to go inside with Tracy.

“It’s a heartbreaking moment because you watch your partner get wheeled away and you don’t know what’s going to happen next,” said Greg. Tracy spent 1.5 days in the Emergency Department, then was transferred to Ridgeview’s ICU. Without Greg, Tracy was alone.

“That day that she went to the ICU was the hardest. I could tell just by looking at her eyes that she was afraid,” said Melissa Macy, RN. “As I was leaving, she reached out and grabbed my hand and asked me if she was going to die.”

Melissa assured Tracy she was in the right place at Ridgeview and she would be well taken care of. That’s because Tracy was being cared for in Ridgeview’s Telemetry Unit, where there’s an increased level of monitoring with the telemetry technology. Clinicians use advanced monitoring systems (telemetry), to monitor patients’ vitals from workstations outside of their rooms. This extra layer of monitoring is important for the most critical patients. It’s this telemetry that helped save Tracy’s life.

“I noticed her heart rate crept up and was at a sustained heart rate, which was abnormal for her,” said Allison Levy, MD.

Ridgeview’s clinical teams sprung into action and immediately performed an echo on Tracy’s heart. They found abnormalities and diagnosed her with bilateral pulmonary embolisms, or blood clots in her lungs.

“Had she not been on a monitor, we wouldn’t have seen that,” said Melissa.

After 28 days in Ridgeview, Tracy was finally healthy enough to return home to Greg. “I don’t think I realized how sick I was,” Tracy said. Ridgeview’s advanced care and exceptional clinical team were crucial to Tracy’s recovery. “There’s nothing more rewarding than being able to be part of someone’s care and helping them feel better and comfortable at one of the most vulnerable times in their life, especially during the pandemic when people couldn’t have their families here to visit,” said Dr. Levy.
Photo of Tracy and Greg Riffle
“It made me feel such a great sense of security knowing that I never really was alone in that room. They were watching everything that was going on. They could monitor everything that was happening with my health,” said Tracy.

“I tried expressing my thanks every time I’d talk with someone. I can’t possibly, in my lifetime, thank them enough,” said Greg.

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