Excited to visit their son in Gillette, Richard and Marian Green made the long trek from Virginia and were ready to relax and enjoy their vacation. But that all quickly changed when Richard found Marian unresponsive in their motel room. Within minutes Richard would learn that Marian had a stroke and the course of their lives forever changed.
"If we had been on the road, I don't know what would have happened," Richard said. "Within 10 minutes she was at the hospital."
From the moment she first entered the Campbell County Health Emergency Department and throughout her week-long stay, Marian received the ultimate care possible, Richard said. Nurses, doctors and all of the support staff the couple worked with were helpful, compassionate and supportive.
"They were helpful and very understanding," Richard said. "I can't say enough for the hospital and staff there."
Despite going through that life-changing experience, Richard quickly learned to lean on the Campbell County Health staff. While the main focus was on his wife's care, the hospital also helped to coordinate moving Richard from a motel to the Close to Home Hospice Hospitality House. And when it looked like Marian would need long-term care, the staff coordinated a flight back to Virginia and located a rehabilitation center for Marian's care in Virginia.
"It took a real load of my mind," Richard said. "They made sure I was taken care of; the whole experience I had there was a great relief because I was a wreck."
CCH Care Manager Jeanne Meyer was one of several the couple came to rely on during their time in Gillette. Jeanne 's position was created a few years ago to help patients navigate their hospital stay and treatment plan going home. A registered nurse, Jeanne works closely with doctors, social workers, nurses and others to advocate for patients and help make the hospital experience as pleasant as possible.
"We ensure all of their needs are addressed," Jeanne said. "I let patients know I'm here supporting them and here if they need it. We can be that advocate beside them."
Whether it's setting up therapy for the patient after a hospital stay or helping a patient understand their treatment plan, the care management team works to ease the minds of patients and their families. By taking the burden off of them for some of the details, Jeanne said families are better able to concentrate on their loved one.
"We're able to explain more and clarify the grey areas," Jeanne said. "They can take comfort in knowing somebody is going to help them get what they need."
For families like the Greens, a medical emergency far away from home can be a difficult experience. Because Jeanne has experienced that with her own mother before, she said she has great empathy for others in a similar situation.
"It's scary when you're far away from home and you don't know anyone," Jeanne said. "It can be very scary."
For the Greens, having Jeanne as an advocate and to coordinate some of the details helped lift the burden off of them. Now back in Virginia, Richard said he looks back on their time in Gillette as challenging, but thankful for the many people who supported them during that difficult time.
"I can't express my gratitude enough," Richard said. "For being strangers in a strange town, we were treated like neighbors."
Article written by Kim Phagan-Hansel, Wyoming freelance writer