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With tears in her eyes, Mimi Boarini recalls the day she almost lost her coworker, Larry Little. It was Tuesday, January 19, and Boarini, who works in Guest Relations at the Joe & Shelly Schwarz Cancer Center at IU Health North Hospital, noticed that Little, a COVID-19 screener, didn’t look well when he came back from his lunch break.
By Trudy Odenwald, Marketing Associate, IU Health Indianapolis Suburban Region, todenwald@IUHealth.org
“I come in everyday at noon and that’s when Larry goes to lunch,” Boarini said. “When he came back, I asked him if he was feeling okay because I could just tell that something wasn’t right. He was perspiring and just looked off. He said that his throat felt weird and then his voice changed. My immediate instinct was to find a doctor and see if he needed to be taken to the Emergency Department.” Boarini came back with Dr. Ke Yang, oncologist, who took one look at Little and said, “Take him [to the Emergency Department], and take him now!” “It was a miracle that Dr. Yang was available at that moment because he’s always busy,” she said. “I got Larry in a wheelchair and just immediately started running towards the Emergency Department. You don’t think about anything else in the moment except that you’re going to help.” When Little was admitted to the Emergency Department at IU Health North Hospital, they discovered that he was having an allergic reaction to a mushroom that was in his lunch and that his throat was 80 percent blocked. Individuals can develop allergies as they age, and in Little’s case, he had become more allergic to mushrooms without knowing it.
“I started sweating during lunch, but didn’t really thing anything of it,” Little said. “But when I got back to my screening station, my neck was swelling and I could feel myself getting short of breath. It felt like I was suffocating.”
Once admitted into the Emergency Department, a nurse administered an EpiPen and Little was given steroids. He was discharged that same day. After a couple days off from work to recover, Little returned to work feeling even more grateful for his friendship with Boarini. “It was when I got home that it really hit me that Mimi had just saved my life,” he said. “It was a real situation, and I could have been gone if it wasn’t for her. I call Mimi my angel now.”
If you ask Boarini if she saved Little’s life, she will tell you that she was just doing her job and looking out for a friend.
“In Guest Relations, your job is to pay attention. I pay attention to the needs of our patients and my coworkers, but I’m just a human being who noticed that my friend wasn’t looking well. Sometimes I think we just forget to pay attention to those around us,” she said. To Little, Boarini will always be considered family. “I just really appreciate her from the bottom of my heart,” he said. “I truly believe that I wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for Mimi. She’s become family and she always will be. It means the world to me to know that somebody cares, because in this world, there’s so much going on, and it’s so easy to overlook what’s going on around you. I just thank God every day for my angel.”