Mark Hayward's City Matters: Life isn't what it used to be for ER worker injured in attack involving mentally ill man
Injured Ellliot Hospital emergency room workers Donald Wyman and Melissa Clermont in the kitchen of his south Manchester home. (MARK HAYWARD / UNION LEADER)
Don Wyman can tell you about teams of experts.
The man who used to raft on white water, camp and hike mountains suffered two post-attack strokes and now walks his neighborhood.
And he sees a life coach. The father of four at-home children needs to relearn everyday tasks such as grocery shopping, making change and doing the laundry.
The attack on Wyman and fellow Elliot Hospital licensed nurse assistant Melissa Clermont is fading from the front pages, in part because of the violent attack involving Fern Ornelas at the same hospital three months later.
"Don has the perfect calm, cool, collected approach that is so effective with our psychiatric patients," reads a nomination of Wyman as Emergency Department MVP, written by his coworkers shortly before the attack.
His wife, Amy Wyman, works as a registered nurse at the Elliot psychiatric unit. They have two children together — son Cooper, who is 6, and daughter Delaney, 3. Amy Wyman's 12- and 16-year-old children from a previous marriage live with the family.
Clermont — his coworker who suffered a slight cheekbone fracture in the attack — remembers it well. Her body tenses up when she speaks about it. She gasps for air and speaks nervously.
She has been diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder. She avoids crowds, and the event often revisits her.
Amy Wyman said Don can't be left alone with the children, so she's been unable to return to work. She is burning through his vacation time and time donated by Elliot Hospital employees. He is on worker's compensation, which only provides 60 percent of his normal wage.
Still, Wyman recovered from his strokes faster and better than doctors initially expected, said his mother, Donna Carey. He is getting shoulder surgery and special glasses to correct his double vision.
Always a worker, Wyman talks about one day returning to work. But he realizes he has changed and probably can't do the same job. He still wants to be trained and tested for the job, he said.
About half those initiatives have started, according to an update from state health officials. Five of 10 beds have opened at Franklin Hospital; Harbor Homes has received $720,000 to help keep mentally ill people in apartments and off the streets; community treatment teams have been approved for Lebanon, Laconia, Portsmouth and Dover, and seven existing teams will now work seven days a week.
At this point, however, no one is adding beds at the New Hampshire Hospital, something Mayor Ted Gatsas, Manchester hospital presidents and hospital workers called for in August, after the attack on Wyman and Clermont.
It's easy to understand the strategy in concept. But that means people like Wyman's alleged assailant, Ansel Kinglocke, will end up — violent and in crisis — at emergency rooms until the new system gets up and running.
"They need the hospital beds," Carey said. The community-based system is based upon everyone staying on their medication, but what if they don't? she asked.
Mark Hayward's City Matters appears Thursday in the New Hampshire Union Leader and UnionLeader.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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