All Elaine Cox remembers is standing at her kitchen counter, taking notes over the phone about an upcoming doctor appointment.
When she came to, the medical receptionist she was speaking to — who happened to be more than 200 miles away — was still on the line, telling Cox she’d sent help.
“If it wasn’t for her, I probably wouldn’t have had the help I did,” Cox said. “I’m very grateful for her. She could have hung up, but she realized there was something wrong, and she took charge of it.”
Molly Jelinek, a medical receptionist at the Truhlsen Eye Institute in Omaha, routinely calls out-of-town patients to get things squared away before appointments.
Jelinek was about 10 minutes into her phone call with Cox, 75, when Cox stopped responding. Then Jelinek heard a symphony of loud noises — what sounded like boxes falling to the floor, a door slam and the nonstop barking of Cox’s dog Daisy.
“I honestly thought there was an intruder in her apartment,” Jelinek said.
After repeating Cox’s name over and over with no response, Jelinek called the Lexington, Nebraska, police. She put Cox’s call on hold.
Meanwhile, Cox woke up on the floor, eventually moving over to a kitchen chair. Cox, who said she was still dazed, kept hearing a muffled noise repeating her name.
It dawned on her that it was coming from her cellphone, which was still sitting on the counter. She picked up — about 10 minutes after her fall — and Jelinek told her police were on the way. She stayed on the phone with Cox until help arrived.
Cox went to the hospital, where doctors told her she was dehydrated. She made it into Omaha the next month for her appointment and was able to meet Jelinek. Jelinek has called Cox a few times to check in on her. The two plan to go to lunch when Cox is in town for her next appointment.
This was the first time that Jelinek ever had to call for help for a patient over the phone. But instinct kicked in and she stayed calm.
“I was lucky enough to be on the phone with her at the time that it happened and everything turned out fine,” Jelinek said.