Expecting the Best


On November 10th of 2011, while he and his wife were driving home from a doctor’s appointment, Clayton Pile had a life changing automobile accident. Clayton does not remember any of the events from that horrific day. Harriet Pile, Clayton’s wife, stated they both must have fallen asleep with Clayton at the wheel. Their car ran into a rock wall and the car rolled over, pinning Clayton to the dashboard of the car. He sustained life threatening injuries and was transported to JRMC, the nearest hospital, where he was flown by Life Flight to UT Medical Center. Mrs. Pile suffered only minor injuries.

Clayton had two broken vertebrae in his neck (his cervical spine) and three in his lower back (lumbar spine). He had a broken sternum and a hematoma. He had to be put in a HALO and was placed on Life Support in the trauma unit for several weeks. During this time, his body systems began to shut down. He became septic from a kidney infection. He was given a feeding tube to maintain nutrition. The trauma was almost too much for his body to endure. Mrs. Pile was told by Clayton’s doctor that he would most likely never be able to breathe on his own and would never come off the ventilator and survive.

After being stabilized, Clayton was moved to Select Specialty Hospital of Knoxville Tennessee. Select Hospital is a special care hospital designed to provide comprehensive, specialized care for high-acuity patients who need more recovery time. While there, he was weaned off the ventilator. The plan was to get him strong enough to transfer him to the Patricia Neal Center for rehabilitation.

After deep consideration by Harriet and her three children, the decision was made to transfer Clayton to Signature HealthCARE of Fentress County. “The daily drive from Pall Mall to Knoxville was getting to be just too much with the added stress of worrying about my husband. We felt it was time to make a drastic change in Clayton’s recovery plan. We were banking with everything we had that Signature HealthCARE was the right move. We came expecting the best and the best is exactly what we got! The team worked with us and we worked with the team,” said Mrs. Pile.

“I was transferred to Fentress County that afternoon, and the next morning the therapy team was in my room ready to start! I cannot remember much of my ordeal. Most of what I remember was after the transfer to Signature on. One thing I can tell you I do remember were the smiling faces of the staff ready to help me. I was home,” Clayton conveyed in an emotional way. Dr. Richard Smith began to remove Clayton from much of the sedating medication he had been placed on during his recovery. “Coming off the medication was difficult for me. I found myself hateful and grumpy much of the time. The staff was so caring and patient. I don’t know how they put up with me,” said Clayton. “Neither do I!” said Mrs. Pile jokingly.

“My voice was very weak and I could hardly swallow after being placed on the ventilator for so long. I could only whisper. The speech therapist began working with me and my diet. I hated having to eat the pureed foods while my throat recovered, but she never gave up, even when I wanted to. At 7:30 every morning, without fail, the CNAs were in my room to give me a shower. After that, I spent the remainder of my day in therapy. It was like boot camp. The physical therapists and occupational therapists pushed me so hard some days I didn’t think I was going to survive, but within two weeks I was taking a few steps and shortly after that I was walking around the building. The nurses and the CNAs were always such a comfort to me during my grueling recovery. They would even come back to my room after their shifts had ended to play cards and talk with me. They became my family and that building became my home.”

“They are family, all of them. We laughed and we cried together. They were as worried about our two sons, daughter, and me as they were about Clayton. The staff always made sure we were fed. I always felt so comfortable and safe there. It was always so clean,” said Mrs. Pile.

On February the 14th, Clayton went back to the doctor to get his HALO removed. “When I returned from getting my HALO removed the entire staff and many of the residents were waiting for me in the front entrance cheering! I felt as if I had just returned home from war. I always heard people talking about how awful nursing homes are. They have no idea what this place is like. They don’t know what I know. SHC of Fentress County was my miracle. I just can’t put it into words how incredible everyone is.”

On the day Clayton was discharged, he drove home and mowed his yard. The next day, he drove a load of cattle to Russell Springs, Kentucky. He and his wife live, work, and maintain their farm in Pall Mall Tennessee.

–Michael Conatser, Admissions & Marketing Director