Hannah Biely

Hannah Biely

The resilient recovery of a pediatric patient

When Hannah Biely began acting erratic and out of character, those closest to the teenager knew something was seriously wrong.

Prior to the summer of 2016, Hannah was anything but average; she was an exceptional varsity water polo athlete, accomplished student, loving daughter, and friend to all. It wasn’t in her nature to act irrational and frantic; she was a healthy, level-headed, and intelligent, young woman.

Noticing an unexplainable and sudden change in her behavior, her parents and extended family took action to discover the root of the unusual behavior. Hannah was quickly admitted to Marian Regional Medical Center’s Pediatric Department where she was embraced by the clinical care team.

On the surface, it seemed that Hannah was experiencing a behavioral health crisis, however Hillel Janai, MD, Pediatric Hospitalist, was Hannah’s attending physician and he was puzzled as he had heard Hannah’s background and learned of her well-rounded demeanor and her vibrant future.

Dr. Janai made it his mission to run a series of diagnostic tests and uncovered that Hannah was suffering from anti-NMDAR encephalitis, a rare disease that impacts behavior through a viral infection that had traveled to her brain.  Fortunately, Dr. Janai diagnosed a similar case 30 years ago and drew from that experience in this case.

Throughout the course of treatment, it proved to be vital for Hannah to have her supportive family, in addition to a physician who advocated on her behalf and a nursing support staff that was instrumental in ensuring effective communication. 

Hannah’s father, Jared Biely, recounts, “Even when things seemed as if they were not going to improve, Dr. Janai consistently kept us informed on what to expect and was there for us through every step of the journey.”

The tenacity of Hannah was on display as she made a full recovery from the infection with both resilience and community support. The strength of Marian as a medical center is not just in the ever expanding care provided within it walls, but it also comes from physicians, like Dr. Janai, who listen and advocate on behalf of their patients. 

After reflecting on her road to recovery, Hannah is busy looking to the future.  “I am excited to go to college, meet new people, and earn a college degree,” shares Hannah, who is now a freshman at California State University Chico.  “Through this experience it has been made very clear to me that I definitely want to help people.” 

At Marian, we know that medicine holds the power to cure, but it is our shared humanity that holds the power to heal.  For Hannah and her family, kindness and excellence held both the power to heal and to cure.