Fifteen-year-old Charlotte Murphy was riding her horse where she trains in Summerfield, North Carolina, when her horse tripped and Murphy was thrown to the ground. Her horse took a spill, too, but not before one of its hooves landed on Murphy on its way down.

With so much weight placed on Murphy’s abdomen in the moment of impact, Murphy and those watching were concerned.

“I was in a lot of pain. This was my worst fall ever,” said Murphy, an advanced rider and a sophomore at Northern Guilford High School in Greensboro. “What was really scary was when my horse stepped on my stomach.”

Murphy’s father Chris Murphy got the call from his wife. He scanned his phone for ER options and was surprised that — thanks to a new freeway loop — Novant Health Kernersville Medical Center was the closest.

 “I told my wife, I’m coming and we’re going to Kernersville and surprisingly we were there within 20 minutes,” Chris Murphy said. The relatively close drive meant they were able to get Charlotte the care that she needed fast.

Proximity to ERs is crucial

When it comes to emergency room visits, especially with conditions like stroke or trauma, getting to the closest facility can be key, said Julie Schaefer, emergency room manager at Novant Health Kernersville Medical Center.

“For strokes, time is brain,” Schaefer said. “For a trauma, it’s the same idea. You want to identify any significant injuries as quickly as possible so you can get the patient to the correct care area, even if that might sometimes mean transferring the patient.”

Schaefer said there are a lot of misconceptions out there about emergency rooms at smaller hospitals.

“I think some people may think small emergency rooms can’t handle the big stuff,” Schaefer said. “But smaller emergency rooms like ours can handle anything that comes through the doors and stabilize the patient.” For stroke care, for example, Kernersville Medical Center can give stroke patients TPA clot-busting drugs in situations where minutes can really matter.

Especially for who live in areas where new hospitals have been built in recent years or where there have been new roads, such as in parts of Guilford County, North Carolina, it’s a good idea to check if a hospital you haven’t used before may actually be closer.

Getting checked out

Going to the emergency room can be stressful, especially for young patients and their parents. Chris Murphy said he was impressed by the short wait for his daughter and by the job done by the Kernersville Medical Center team. Hospital team members came out to the Murphys’ car and carefully got Charlotte into a wheelchair and she was taken back immediately.

The nursing staff talked Charlotte through what could otherwise have been a scary situation as they started IVs in each arm and pulled blood samples. Dr. Paul McGuire ran a potential trauma protocol and after getting back a CT scan was able to tell the family the good news: no serious injuries. She’d just be sore for a few days. Considering she’d just been stomped on by a horse, McGuire joked, they might think about buying a few lottery tickets after checking out. Everyone was relieved.

Charlotte is already back to competing in horse shows. In fact, she was recently named a grand champion at a weekend show.

“We were worried that she might be a little shy about getting back into riding after going through something pretty traumatic,” her father Chris Murphy said. “But she’s already back and she’s in great shape. We’re very thankful about everything.”

Novant Health medical centers offer a variety of emergency services for when you need them.