When Anna Olson experienced complications after surgery for an incarcerated bowel in a hernia, the future was uncertain. Anna and her husband, Mike, didn’t know what the next chapter of their 35+-year love story would be. They didn’t know what Anna’s treatment would entail or who her providers would be. Almost one year later, after five surgeries and countless procedures and tests, Anna is home and the couple decided to pay it forward by becoming Olathe Health Charitable Foundation (OHCF) donors.
Right. From the Start.
Although Anna has no memory of her first month in the hospital, Mike knew Anna was in the right place immediately after arriving at the ED.
“It was a blessing Dr. Long [Elizabeth K. Long, MD, FACS] was on call for surgery. Through her extraordinary talents, and the team of doctors she assembled, I was convinced the best possible care for Anna was right in front of me,” Mike recalled. “We’d never needed this level of support, and we were overwhelmed by the care and expertise just miles away from home.”
After Dr. Long performed a robotically assisted epigastric hernia repair with mesh, Anna spent the next 60+ days at Olathe Medical Center. As she was repeatedly examined, tested and bandaged, Mike was by her side. So much so, that he began to experience trouble eating and sleeping after the first month. Anna’s intense and escalating treatments took a toll, and the couple needed help.
Part of the Team
When the care team noticed Mike not leaving the room, sleeping or using the restroom, they encouraged him to drink water, eat meals and take breaks. When Mike developed a limp from shin pain, they got him in front of a provider who diagnosed and treated his cellulitis. During uncertain times, the care team explained Anna’s treatment plans and the information they sought to collect through testing.
With Anna spending birthdays, family events and holidays in the hospital, it wasn’t long before the couple became well acquainted with the care team. From the Progressive Care Unit (PCU), Physical and Occupational Therapy, and Wound Care staff to housekeeping, hospitality and gift shop employees, the couple felt everyone was there to support them.
“We were welcomed into a tight-knit community of caregivers and encouraged to be part of Anna’s recovery,” Mike said.
Each day, more and more people rallied around Anna – some coming in on their days off to provide care. Anna’s first walk down the hallway was met with a standing ovation from the entire PCU. Anna’s nine-month recovery was not all celebratory milestones, though – it had its low, sometimes scary, moments. But the respect staff showed Anna and the tenderness they had for Mike in the couple’s most vulnerable moments is what got them through this challenging time and compelled them to show their gratitude.
When Anna turned a corner in her recovery and prepared to transfer to a long-term hospital, the couple wanted to show their thanks but struggled to find a meaningful way.
“‘Good’ and ‘great’ aren’t fair ways to describe Olathe Health,” the couple said. “They didn’t just save Anna; they made us feel like she was the only patient in their care. No thank-you gift could match the level of care we received.”
After much contemplation, Anna and Mike got in touch with the OHCF to learn about giving options. Through their dedicated PCU donation, department directors were able to allocate the funds toward items that directly enhanced PCU staff’s work lives. More, the couple’s donation was furthered when Mike completed the necessary paperwork for his employer, Motorola Solutions, to match their donation.
“The matching process was easier than I ever imagined,” Mike said. “I have been eager to share the news with others so they can ask their employers to match donations.”
The couple encourages grateful patients to donate, following a key piece of advice.
“If you’re interested in making a donation, talk with the Foundation. Inquire about the organization’s or department’s needs, and learn how you can best put your donation to work.”
By working with OHCF staff and department leaders, the couple was able to ensure their donation was impactful and their intentions were realized.
Interested in making a donation? Visit olathehealth.org/giving to learn how you can make a difference in the lives of healthcare heroes.