Grateful Patient & Family Stories

There are many reason patients and families choose to support Mary Greeley Medical Center while honoring caregivers who have gone beyond their expectations. Below are some of these stories.

Vern & Ruth Schaefer pictured with Angela Long and Dr Prow, recognizing them for excellent patient care provided at the Bliss Cancer Center

Ruth and Vern Schaefer gave a gift in honor of all the William R. Bliss Cancer Center medical staff for the excellent medical care provided to Ruth, with special recognition for Dr. Prow and Angela Long.

Ruth explains,

“After I received the diagnosis of cancer, Vern and I felt that our world had dropped out from under us, leaving us in chaos. Conflicting recommendations and information left us very confused about a path forward. We then entered the care of the Bliss Cancer Center and met Dr. Prow and Angela Long. Together they provided us with honest, straightforward information and answers, not the sugar-coated versions. Both took the time to patiently answer all our questions and provided other reliable resources. Together they pulled us out of a state of chaos and helped us get our feet back on the ground so we could confidently move forward on our journey to wellness.

So often in the hectic world we live in, we do not take the time to thank the people who have positively impacted our lives. We are receiving excellent care at the William R. Bliss Cancer Center. The entire staff has been professional and supportive. We will forever be indebted to Dr. Prow, Angela, and the medical staff for all they have done for us. We hope in some small way this donation given in their honor will convey a sense of our gratitude.”

Cindy and Moinique standing in front of a Christmas tree at Israel Family Hospice House. They were both recognized for the care they provided at Israel Family Hospice House

The family of Bill Holmes recognized the nurses and patient care techs at the Israel Family Hospice House

Bill was admitted to the Hospice House on August 26 and was there for three weeks. His wife Debi stayed with him the whole time. She explained:

“All of the nurses and patient care techs at the Hospice House were wonderful - especially Cindy (Walker, pictured), Deanna (Bray) and Monique (Robinson, pictured). They went the extra mile taking care of Bill, me and our whole family. They took extra steps and were so caring and personal. That really means so much and we wanted to recognize and thank them.”

Kenny Mayo recognized Jessica Schultz, RN for going the extra mile in caring for his partner, Donna Speicher

Kenny explained:

“All of the nurses on the ICCU were wonderful and we were so impressed. Jessica really stands out and was fantastic. She explained what was happening in layman’s terms. She was so compassionate and made everything clear so we could understand. When Donna needed help, Jessica was right there. When she asked if there was anything else we needed – she included both of us. That really meant a lot to us and we wanted to recognize and thank you her and the whole team. Thank you!”

Grateful Patient McCaughy

Dr. Joshua McCaughey Recognized for Going the Extra Mile

Jami wrote:

“I was at home and had not been feeling well most of the day. I got sick at work and it seemed to just progress as the night went on. I started feeling other things and I just didn't feel right.

I called my sister who is an ER Charge nurse at Blank Children's Hospital in Des Moines and her husband is a Cardiac Care Nurse at MGMC. Both of them said that the symptoms I was having were nothing to mess around with because it could have been heart related.

When I got to the ER I was already on edge because I didn't feel right and I had no idea what was going on. The Triage nurse, Trent, came out to the lobby and got me. He was VERY polite and listened very carefully when I was explaining my symptoms. I was relieved because sometimes you get a nurse who seems like it is an inconvenience for them to be providing care.

Then, Dr. McCaughey comes in, VERY cheerful, happy and very attentive. He asked me about what my symptoms were and offered up thoughts on what he thought about it, in comparison to what the tests were showing at this point of my visit. He truly listened, he kept eye contact with me and wasn't off doing other things or trying to read while I was explaining everything to him. He has an awesome presence about him, you don't see that much, especially in an emergency setting. He didn't act at all like he was put off by my being there. He also made it very clear that although the tests had not shown anything, pending the outcome of a few others, that I should not hesitate should something change or something get worse to come back to the ER.  Not one time while he was in there did I ever feel as if he was rushed or that he was somehow inconvenienced even though the tests had not shown anything yet. All in all, he just has a great presence and he was just very nice and polite through the whole process. Most ER doctors seem like they just want to get you out of there. He never ONCE did this. I just think that people should receive praise, especially when they are like he is. Thank you!”

Grateful Patient Mattson Vulgamott

Dr. Travis Mattson Recognized by Patient

LouAnn Vulgamott, who has an extensive family history of
heart disease, was seen in the ED this past February. She shares:

“I was having pain in my right shoulder. I went to the after-hours clinic and was told to take some pain reliever and rest it. The next afternoon it wasn’t feeling better so I called my doctor, thinking I needed a cortisone injection. He recommended I go to the Emergency Department since the pain started up again. I went to the Mary Greeley ED where Dr. Travis Mattson was working.

Dr. Mattson was very thorough and ran several tests. All of my numbers were coming back within the normal range. We talked about me going home, but he said based on my extensive family history of heart disease he just didn’t feel good about sending me home and recommended I be admitted for observation.

I am so lucky he kept me in the hospital. When I got to my room my “normal” numbers spiked. I was transported to Mercy and while waiting to have an angioplasty, I coded. If he had sent me home, I might not have woken up in the morning.

I thank God that Dr. Mattson took the time to read my family history and follow his intuition. Thank you.”

Dr. Larry Otteman, MD and a few members of his staff

Dr. Larry Otteman, McFarland Oncology/Hematology Recently Recognized

The patient wanted to remain anonymous but briefly shared, “In dealing with the Bliss Cancer Center I feel especially blessed. I had a doctor who cared about me, nurses who loved and took care of me, and receptionists who were always welcoming and so happy to see me and catching up on our lives. Thanks you.” – One grateful patient

Pictured are from L to R: Eichenberger, Halverson, Dunavan, Hillemna, Rasmussen, Shapiro

Employee Honors Multiple Physicians, Nurses and Department Teams for Going Beyond Expectations in Caring for Her Husband

Kelly Maher, a RN on Mary Greeley’s 4C unit recently recognized several physicians and staff for their extraordinary care of her husband Kevin. This display of gratitude is especially meaningful because we know we are often our worse critics and as caretakers it is challenging to the ones receiving care. Kelly was deeply touched by the compassionate care they received and wrote:

  • Rupal Amin MD, Internal Medicine
  • Jason Rasmussen MD, Cardiology
  • Robert Shapiro MD, Cardiology
  • Patrick Tracy DO, Hospitalist
  • Lisa Briese, House Manager
  • TJ Carroll, Paramedic
  • Jenica Dunavan Lead RN
  • Hannah Eichenberger RN
  • Maggie Halverson RN
  • Jessica Hilleman RN
  • Sarah Kraus PCT
  • Andrew Luchessi RN
  • Katlyn Lyons RN
  • Charis Maldonado PCT
  • Aric Phillips RN
  • Summer Thielen PCT
  • Julie Yoder, Paramedic

“I would like to recognize the following individuals who in some way cared for my husband upon his admittance to the Mary Greeley Emergency Department, via Urgent Care North with Rapid A Fib with RVR and then to my unit 4C. From the moment he was brought by ambulance all the way to his timely discharge, he received exceptional care. I believe each person mentioned below went beyond expectations and made Kevin’s experience better than expected. Kevin said the Julie and TJ, the two paramedics who transported him were professional and focused.

Dr. Amin spent over an hour with him and made sure to invite me into the room explaining his condition and ways to help him relax. She was absolutely amazing. He really wanted to discharge early on Monday. Dr. Rasmussen okayed the discharge early and Dr. Amin did the discharge. He was so grateful for their promptness and for Jessica and Charis for getting him ready for discharge and out by 8:30.

Also kudos to House Manager Lisa for ensuring he was on my unit along with Lead RN Jenica.

I am so proud to work with such great people and to be a part of Mary Greeley and was so touched by the beautiful care he received. Thank you to all.”

Pictured are Front Row (L to R): Katie White, RN; Kate Hulshizer, RT; Heather Allen & Family, Brooke Lund, RT; Katie Duncan, RN, Back Row (L to R): President & CEO, Brian Dieter; Linda Peterson; Suzanne Briggs, RT; Dr. John Hardie; Brian MacPhail, Physicist; Samantha Gray, Dosimetrist

Patient Honors Bliss Cancer Center Teams

Heather Allen recently recognized Dr. Debra Prow, Dr. John Hardie and their respective teams for their compassionate care throughout her cancer journey.

Heather wrote:

“Dr. Prow has been with me since the beginning when I was first diagnosed with stage III inflammatory breast cancer (IBC) in 2010. She and her team are extraordinarily compassionate and knowledgeable, and always go the extra mile to ensure that I am comfortable both physically and mentally. We have developed a strong relationship, a mutual trust that we are both fully invested in treating my cancer. Although I hate having an oncologist in my life, my gratitude for her expertise and care is boundless. This relationship has made it easy for me to bring love, frankness, honesty and positivity to my appointments, further facilitating my treatment.

Dr. Hardie is one of my favorite doctors because he answers all of my questions. He and his team are a wonderful group of compassionate and knowledgeable individuals!! I have worked with them to treat my brain tumor, which has had me more fearful than my other cancer treatments. Their words and expertise have been essential to helping me cope with my fears.  They have started to feel like family. 

During one appointment with particularly good scans Dr. Hardie was so excited to show them to me! My sisters were at the appointment with me, and although I was totally engrossed in the pictures, my sisters were watching Dr. Hardie, and they said that he was like a proud papa: scrolling through the images; finding the best images for me; then smiling, rocking back on his heels, and folding his arms when he paused for me to take a photo.

On another day, I was treated by one of the dear nurses who took care of me back in the day of my twice-daily chest wall radiation, and she remembered me. She gave me her arm when she called me from the waiting room, and ceremoniously walked me back to the treatment room. Also, I had forgotten to take off my glasses, so she removed them from my face, and I apologized that she had to touch the dirty things. I hadn’t properly washed them since Puerto Rico, and the saltwater splatters made them look rather gross, I’m sure. After treatment, before she handed my glasses back to me, she cleaned them with a proper lens-cleaner towelette. Then she again gave me her elbow to walk back to the waiting room. This is above and beyond! And I’d like to emphasize the power of touch--after a big hug from the spouse, followed by taking the nurse’s arm to walk back to the treatment room, I certainly walked a little bit taller and felt a little bit more confident about what I was about to endure.

Another time, I was terribly sick after chemo, and was already home for the day following an appointment at oncology. Dr. Prow’s office called and said I needed to come back in for another blood draw because something went wrong with the first. Well, Diane from the lab came to my house and did the draw so that I wouldn’t have to come back in to the clinic!!!

This type of patience and attention to detail has been consistent over the past 8 years, and it is deeply appreciated. I think it is the depth of compassion that these professionals display for their patients that sets them apart from their colleagues at other institutions. I have not encountered such genuine warmth elsewhere. Thank you.”

Pictured are from L to R: Mim Patterson, David Hoffman, Bev Kruempel, MaryAnn Gardner, President & CEO Brian Dieter

Hospice Volunteers Help Dreams Come True

David Hoffman recently recognized volunteers MaryAnn Gardner, Bev Kruempel and Mim Patterson for helping organize a family wedding at the Israel Family Hospice House. David wrote:

“Judie went to Mayo Clinic last October for what was supposed to be a day visit. She never returned home. Although her condition required immediate hospitalization, it was not immediately clear how serious her situation was. As her condition slowly deteriorated, she came to realize that she was not going to live to be a part of some things she had set her heart on. In the end, bedridden by a stroke, she came to Hospice House where she died three weeks after being admitted.

One of the things Judie had been looking forward to was the wedding of her son, Ian. The ceremony had been scheduled to take place in late December in Washington, D.C., but it became clear that she was not going to be able to attend. In the face of Judie’s disappointment, many wonderful people stepped in to bring a little joy to her collapsing world. First, Ian and his fiancée, Julia, willingly agreed to hold a ceremony at Hospice House. Evonne Fitzgerald and the staff of Hospice House allowed a room of their facility to be converted temporarily to a wedding chapel. Craig Palmer, the minister of the Hoffman’s church in Ames, agreed to officiate the ceremony, and even Judie’s hair stylist volunteered to make a special visit to Hospice House to fix her up for the ceremony. She looked radiant. The week before the ceremony, Judie was an active participant in planning every aspect of the wedding. It gave her, and everyone else, something positive to concentrate on in that awful time.

Three volunteers at Hospice House--Mim Patterson, Bev Kruempel and MaryAnn Gardner--deserve special mention for their efforts. Mim and Bev, who were longtime friends of Judie, worked diligently behind the scenes to set up the wedding and reception and made sure that things ran smoothly. MaryAnn, who previously had not even known Judie, volunteered her professional photography skills to produce a beautiful pictorial account of the proceedings. Their efforts brought real joy to Judie at an otherwise joyless time. The kindness they showed will be long remembered.”

Pictured are from L to R: Sheila Bright, Brian Dieter and Claudia Kaiser

Wife Honors Hospice House Nurses for Going Beyond Expectations

Mary Lou Fleming recently recognized nurses Sheila Bright and Claudia Kaiser for the exceptional care they provided Don Fleming’s at the Israel Family Hospice House.

Mary Lou wrote:

“Don was in hospice three days and he had excellent care. I especially remember Sheila because she was with him almost constantly and she was concerned for me, too. Shelia even worked a double shift when a co-worker was unable to come in. She and Claudia were with him when he passed away. All the staff was very caring and helpful. Thank you for everything.”

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