Trusting her gut: How a phone call made a difference for a patient in distress

It’s not unusual for Anne Humphreys-Dengler, RN, BSN, to speak to patients over the phone; she often helps them coordinate tests, oxygen, medications, and more. But one particular phone call had her providing a different kind of help.

“I was sent a phone call from a patient that had never been seen in our clinic but was in distress,” says Humphreys-Dengler, pulmonary clinical coordinator in the Medicine Specialty Clinic. “He sounded very short of breath, and said, ‘Something’s wrong; I don’t know what’s going on; I don’t feel right.’”

Anne Humphreys-Dengler, a pulmonary clinical coordinator in the Medicine Specialty Clinic, sits at her desk.

Anne Humphreys-Dengler, a pulmonary clinical coordinator in the Medicine Specialty Clinic, explains how one phone call made a world of difference for a patient in distress.

Having quickly checked the patient’s records, she discovered the patient had recently been hospitalized in the Respiratory Specialty Care Unit following a procedure. She then instructed the patient to call an ambulance and go to the emergency room at UI Hospitals & Clinics.

Diagnosis: Pneumothorax

After some time had passed and the patient still hadn’t arrived, Humphreys-Dengler called the patient’s spouse for an update and found out the ambulance had taken him to a local hospital instead.

She then helped facilitate his transfer to UI Hospitals & Clinics, where he was admitted with a pneumothorax—a condition where air leaks outside of or around the lung.

Humphreys-Dengler says her experience emphasized how important it is to always listen to patients.

“I think it really just demonstrates how important communication is and to trust your gut instinct,” she says.

Diligence leads to meaningful care

Humphreys-Dengler says that knowing how much her patients depend on her and all medical providers motivates her to do her job well.

“We just try to help our patients navigate the system however we can,” she says. “It’s a big place, and we try to make it seem a little bit smaller to them.”

Regardless of the situation, Humphreys-Dengler believes it’s an important responsibility to be a resource for patients.

“You have to think about them in their situation,” she says. “They look to us for help and for guidance.”


  1. Amazing! Thank you for all the hard work you do and giving the ultimate best patient care!

  2. Anne, you are such a caring person, I’m not surprised at all! But thank you for your diligence and for making patients feel comfortable sharing their concerns!

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