Huntington Hospital Celebrates a Life With a Moment of Gratitude


A lot of people doing just the right thing at just the right moment earlier this year saved the life of a Huntington woman, who, with her family, members of the Halesite Fire and Huntington Bay Police Departments, and staff of Huntington Hospital celebrated on Monday. More than a few people grew  teary-eyed with joy.

Jean Hegler, an attorney, wasn’t feeling well in February, and called her husband, Tim Pillion, who was in Pittsburgh helping his ailing sister. Hegler didn’t want to call an ambulance; Pillion, however, thought something otherwise. He called a neighbor, Gloria Vallejo, who immediately went to Hegler’s home where she found her unresponsive. First responders from Halesite and the Huntington Bay department rushed her to the hospital in full cardiac arrest.

As a physician who treated her soon after arrival said, “her condition seemed very grim,” requiring that she be resuscitated and intubated; her organs were failing and he warned her husband as he traveled to the hospital that “There’s a high chance that she will not make it.”  But make it she did, to a full recovery, after days on a ventilator, rounds of dialysis and weeks in the intensive care unit.

“I don’t like to speak publicly but when Dr. Goebel reached out, I jumped at the chance to speak because I don’t think a day has elapsed since March 6 when I checked out after my three-week stay in the ICU that I did not think about all of you and how I could possibly thank you all for saving my life,” Hegler said.

“Is there a good way to thank someone for saving your life?” Hegler asked. “When I arrived at the hospital by ambulance, on Feb. 13, I was not expected to live. It is my understanding that I was revived  in the ER on the sixth attempt. Every dayI am thankful for the wonderful crew of  professionals in the hospital ER who worked  so hard to bring me back to life. Despite your incredible work, I was not doing well and my family was not given optimistic news….looking back, the hardest part was that my husband and my three sons and my daughters-in-law, my brothers spent those four days talking with me, holding my hand, and I was not awake or aware of any of this. They were praying for the best but preparing to lose me, and that breaks my heart. However, my doctors and ICU nurses cared for me and my family in every way. We were blessed with this all-star cast, this Dream Team.”

Dr. Jennifer Goebel set the tone for the gathering by calling it a celebration of Hegler’s life. One of Hegler’s three sons, Cole, 21, a student at Gettysburg College, spoke, and he and her husband thanked the doctors and staff for keeping her in their lives.

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