Family Medicine

Multiple surgeries and a complicated pregnancy. The Stulls went through a lot over the last year… and got through it with the help of Mary Greeley Medical Center.

Here’s hoping 2012 is a calmer year for the Stull family. Over a span of 12 months, the Stulls made no less than eight trips to the hospital. The reasons? Everything from a natural disaster to the arrival of a baby. All those visits involved the patient care services and expertise of Mary Greeley Medical Center.

A Flood Rescue

Cindy and Gordon (Gordy) Stull live in Randall. They’re both teachers—Cindy in Ankeny, and Gordon in Burnside. Two decades ago they had their daughter, Casey, at Mary Greeley Medical Center. But that day 20 years ago was a very different one from August 10, 2010.

The couple were together in a car in north Ames, an area not typically prone to flooding. But on an uphill slant, the street they were on went suddenly from having no water on the road to having water up to the windows in the car. “It was a matter of seconds,” says Cindy. The couple felt the car floating, so Cindy used her legs to push open her door. When Cindy stepped out on the curb, the current took her and she suffered a knee injury. “I went under the water, and Gordy grabbed me,” Cindy says. The couple made it to a driveway and called 911. The Ames fire department rescued them, and Cindy eventually had to have surgery for her knee at Mary Greeley.

A Pattern of Care

All was well until November 2010, when Cindy was diagnosed with intestinal ailments that landed her in the hospital several times. She was in and out—sometimes for days at a time—before she had surgery in February 2011. “I got to know the nurses and staff on the third floor really well,” Cindy says.

Despite their situation, Mary Greeley proved to be a good experience for the Stull family. “Everyone was consistently good,” says Stull. “From the people who transported you from X-ray to people who performed different procedures, everyone was kind and easy to talk to, and the nursing staff was just superior.”

Being a patient is one thing, but for a waiting family the experience at a hospital can be excruciating—but not so for the Stulls. From prep through surgery and recovery, the details on Cindy’s condition were precise, the questions always answered. “The staff was very good at being able to not only put my mind at ease but my family’s too,” Cindy says. “I was in the operating room quite awhile, and everyone, even the volunteers, were very good to my family on just keeping them updated.”

In March 2011, Gordy landed at Mary Greeley for gallbladder surgery. Several months after that, he was hospitalized again for another surgery. Through different procedures and different patients, the Stull family noticed a pattern of care at the hospital. “Every person who came in our room, from the people who were cleaning our room to the nursing assistants who took our blood pressure, would always ask if there was anything they could do,” says Cindy. “And it wasn’t just of the patients, but the people in the room—and they meant it. It wasn’t just something they would say. Even if you needed a few minutes to think about it, they would come back. Anything that we requested, they made it happen.”

An Early Arrival

The Stulls’ daughter, Casey, was due to have her first child in the fall of 2011. Her pregnancy had the welcome distinction of being fairly uneventful, until one morning in July, when she woke up and didn’t feel the baby moving as much. Tests determined that she needed a C-section seven weeks before her due date, and doctors at Mary Greeley worked with those at Blank Children’s Hospital in Des Moines to decide the best place for the birth. “The doctors decided they wanted it done right away at Mary Greeley, and the C-section went great,” Cindy says. “Casey’s daughter, Aalyiah, had a really strong Apgar score.” (The Apgar score is a method of determining the health of a newborn.) Aalyiah was later transported to Blank for further treatment. “You could tell from the communication between the two hospitals that this was something that happened easily, and that they have a tremendous partnership,” says Cindy.

But the Stulls’ visits to Mary Greeley weren’t over yet. After the C-section, Casey experienced a fall and had to have her wrist X-rayed. Luckily for Cindy, she had been well long enough that the faces weren’t as familiar. “It was almost nice when I went through that I didn’t know everybody in the ER anymore,” she says. It was an extraordinary year for the family, and luckily, 2012 has been off to a healthy start. “It was a very difficult time for us. It impacted our jobs, our finances and pushed our faith, but through it all we had our family to support us, our faith community and our medical teams at Mary Greeley, McFarland Clinic and Blank’s Children’s Hospital,” says a grateful Cindy. Little Aalyiah is doing great. Casey, perhaps inspired by her family’s experience, is studying to be a nurse, and wants “more than ever to become a pediatric/neonatal nurse,” says her mom.

And the Stulls weren’t the only ones who came away from their experiences at Mary Greeley with a positive impression.

“My sister has been a nurse, and retired in January after 30 years with a large hospital in Missouri,” Cindy says. “She was with me during my surgery, and she was so pleased with the care that I received. She’s kind of a tough sell because she knows what should be expected of medical professionals. She was very impressed with the care we received. So many times you hear in medicine the complaints, and you never hear from people that have had these awesome experiences.”