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.

Front row: Nurse Ruthie Castro Santana & Rae Reilly. Back row: President and CEO Brian Dieter, Nurse Janelle Browning, & PCT Tom Lunaburg

5th Floor Oncology Staff Recognized for Compassionate Care

In the spring of 2016, Peter Reilly was diagnosed with stage 4 duodenal cancer and died Nov. 2, 2017. According to his wife, Rae, during the 18 months in between he received extraordinarily compassionate care from many on the oncology team, nurses Janelle Browning and Ruthie Castro Santana, PCT Tom Lunaburg and others on Mary Greeley’s 5th floor. He experienced a variety of serious reactions to treatments, but hospital staff and oncology staff always provided professional and compassionate care to get him through those difficult times.

“Special praise goes to Janelle Browning who stayed more than 6 hours past her shift one night to see Pete through what presented as symptoms of a heart attack (turned out not to be a heart attack, but it was very scary). I understand Janelle went home around 1:30 a.m. after finishing up her paperwork,” Rae said. “I continue to be very grateful for the care both Peter and I received.”

Dr. Grant Goldsberry and Radiologic Technologist Tiffany Crandall recognized for going Beyond Expectations

In recognition of Dr. Grant Goldsberry and Radiologic Technologist Tiffany Crandall, on behalf of Amanda Lass and her family.

At Mary Greeley we constantly strive to meet the needs of our patients, no matter what their age, and to make their experiences better. This is very important with children as the medical center can be a scary place sometimes -- full of unknowns. It can cause stress and anxiety not only for the patient, but the family as well.

Amanda Lass is grateful for the care and light atmosphere her daughter Samantha experienced when taking some tests in Radiology.

Amanda writes:

“I want to recognize Tiffany from Radiology and Dr. Goldsberry for the great way they took care of my daughter.  My daughter has been having some health issues over the last few months.  She has had to endure several tests and procedures.  She was honestly most worried about drinking the barium for her upper GI.  She was afraid she would be sick. 

Tiffany was the first person we met and she made her feel at ease.  She described all the items that she may have to drink, she discussed exactly how the procedure would go.  She made jokes and talked to her like she wasn’t a child.  Tiffany was even so nice to take a picture with me and my daughter because she thought our outfits were so awesome! 

Dr. Goldsberry came in and also made light of the situation.  They made jokes, talked about Dunkin Donuts, and took the time to explain some of the images he saw.  It was such a light atmosphere, I never thought I would say this but they made drinking barium FUN!  We aren’t dealing with a life-threatening issue but watching your child struggle is one of the hardest things I have had to do. The small things matter no matter what a patient is facing.  People like Tiffany and Dr. Goldsberry have made this so much easier.  We appreciate what they did for our daughter and it will not be forgotten.”

Lynn Miller, Dr. Larry Otteman, Nurse Jan Martin, Ellen Rasmussen, President and CEO Brian Dieter

Dr. Larry Otteman and Nurse Jan Martin Recognized for going Beyond Expectations

Lynn Miller and Ellen Rasmussen are sincerely grateful for the compassionate care Ellen received during her cancer journey.

“When you hear the words, ‘the test results are positive. You have breast cancer,’ your world comes to a standstill and spins out of control at the same time. Shock, fear, and questions flood your mind and body. Your life hits a wall and you need all the care and support you can get. That is where we were when Ellen and I heard those words in October 2011,” Lynn said.

“An incredible team of doctors, nurses and the chaplain were there to help us through the journey,” he continued. “When Ellen started the chemotherapy phase of her treatment we were blessed to have Dr. Larry Otteman as her oncologist and Jan Martin, RN, as her infusion nurse. At every visit we were greeted with their thorough explanation of what was happening and what to expect. Their genuine concern for us as people, not just patients, was obvious. We left every session with confidence and hope. Their positive attitude, skill and expertise combined with their genuine concern for Ellen, me and her children were evident at every visit. It all resulted in the best treatment possible.”

Nurse Ruthie Castro-Santana and Dr. Swaleh Bahamadi Recognized by a Grateful Patient

Family of repeat patient honors Nurse Ruthie Castro-Santana and Dr. Swaleh Bahamadi for Excellent and Compassionate Care

Joanne Driscoll lived alone and sometimes referred to her stays at Mary Greeley Medical Center as her “spa.” Although all the nurses on the oncology unit were wonderful, Ruthie Castro-Santana was very special to her.

“It was a highlight of her day when Ruthie stopped in, often when Joanne was not even assigned as her patient,” one family member stated. “Ruthie lifted her spirits and redirected her thinking when necessary. She learned how to best communicate with Joanne and respected what made her unique.”

Joanne was among the first patients Dr. Swaleh Bahamadi cared for when he came to Ames. “It was a privilege to watch their relationship evolve. What a gift to have a doctor provide such excellent care throughout the seven years of Mom’s treatment,” a family member stated.

Dr. Bahamadi found creative ways to get around Joanne’s fears by explaining new procedures and trying a less frightening way to approach the treatment she needed. The family appreciated the way he often leaned in to talk to her. When the time came, Dr. Bahamadi struggled to explain to Joanne that her cancer had advanced because he truly cared for her. When she told him that she had chosen hospice care, he got down on his knees to talk to her as an act of compassion.

Dr. Travis Mattson and Rev. Katherine Werner Recognized for Compassionate Care

Illinois Family Shows Gratitude for Compassionate Care with Gift in Honor of Dr. Travis Mattson and Rev. Katherine Werner

At Mary Greeley we constantly strive to meet the needs of our patients and to make their experiences better. In an emergency room visit, this is so important due to the level of stress patients are dealing with. A family from out of state shared with us their great appreciation for the care their mother received last year.

The family was facing a middle-of-the-night emergency, when a patient who had fallen at home arrived in critical condition in the Emergency Department. The daughter was extremely grateful for the care her mother received and she made a gift in honor of Dr. Mattson and Rev. Werner. She wrote: “We needed an honest and compassionate way of telling us the bad news. Dr. Mattson took all the right steps for a proper diagnosis and we knew Mom was in good hands. Chaplain Werner was helpful to us while the medical team worked. We were really in shock. She has a wonderful manner and was able to make a difficult situation more bearable.”

Dr. Cari Low Recognized for Extraordinary Care

Dr. Cari Low Recognized for Extraordinary Care

Ron and Laura Frantzen recently recognized Dr. Cari Low for her caring treatment of Ron’s brother, Kim, before his death in January. Although he was well taken care of by many specialists, nurses, respiratory therapists and other staff, they pointed out Dr. Low in particular for patiently taking the time to discuss the whole case and for helping them to understand the decisions that needed to be made.

As Ron and Laura noted, “Dr. Low explained, she listened and she advised, always with extraordinary care and compassion. Her calming, confident manner was exactly what we needed.”

When the family came to the realization that Kim was not getting better and the decision needed to be made whether or not to take Kim off of life support, Ron asked Dr. Low, “Do you think we are making the right decision?” Her response was, “Yes, I do. And if it was my brother, I’d do the same.”

“It was a great relief to hear that from her. I believe it takes a brave, caring and compassionate doctor to make that statement and it was very comforting to us knowing that we were making the best decision for Kim,” said Ron.

“It has been difficult to put into words just how much we appreciate Dr. Low,” Ron continued. “She was a true blessing in what was a very difficult time for me and my family.”

For making a difference in the lives of so many and in recognition of the Frantzen family’s gratitude, Brian Dieter presented Dr. Low with the Beyond Expectations pin that is a symbol of the Grateful Patient program.

Dr Curtis Waite recognized for going Beyond Expectations

Marshalltown Couple Show Gratitude for Compassionate Care with Gift in Honor of Dr. Curtis Waite

At Mary Greeley we constantly strive to meet the needs of our patients and to make their experiences better. In an emergency room visit, this is so important due to the level of stress patients are likely dealing with. The Paustian family greatly appreciated care they received last spring.

Although the outcome of the ED visit was a difficult diagnosis to hear, the Paustians were so grateful for the skills and care provided to Terry that his wife Julieanne made a gift in honor of his doctor. She wrote: “Dr. Waite, you are gifted. Your manner of addressing us shared respect for Terry and helped us feel confidence in you. We came in for possible strep throat, and with Dr. Waite’s Individual attention to achieve a diagnosis, we began Terry’s cancer journey. We are so grateful for the kindness shown us at Mary Greeley.”

Sara Haveman being recognized for going Beyond Expectations

Patient’s Spouse Grateful for Diabetes & Nutrition Education Center

Sarah Haveman was recently recognized by Rae Reilly, a patient’s spouse, for going “Beyond Expectations” during her husband Peter’s care this fall. As a token of her appreciation for Sarah’s specialized nutritional counseling (through the William R. Bliss Cancer Center) during Peter’s cancer treatment, Rae honored Sarah with a gift to the Foundation through the Grateful Patient and Family Program.

Rae said, “We met with Sarah before Pete’s chemo sessions started. Both of us found the information she provided extremely helpful – both the content and the way the information was organized. You have our grateful thanks for providing a valuable service to Mary Greeley patients. Thank you.”

Birthways Staff - Joline, Candace & Abby

Birthways Staff Goes Above & Beyond

“We are so appreciative of the care and support received when our son Michael was born under emergency circumstances last December. Doctors, nurses, staff….everyone was top notch and we will never forget them. Thank you!” - The Harmon Family

Those being recognized are Joline Dye, Candace Flakoll, and Abby Schmitz, as well as former employee, Chelsea Eaton, who has since moved out of state.

Mary Greeley Staff Goes Beyond Expectations

Mary Greeley Staff Goes Beyond Expectations

Betsy was so grateful for the care that she made a donation in honor of several staff members who played a key role in the events that saved her life in April 2015.

Read all of Betsy's Story

Ron and Andrea

Andrea Poland & Ron Smith - Quality Management

“Ron and Andrea are skilled professionals whose schedules are very full even without the addition of new projects like our surveys. We know they went beyond the call of duty to help us, and we are extremely grateful for their efforts.” - Frankee Oleson

Michelle Hofbauer

Michelle Hofbauer - Hospice

“Mom is 97+ and her toe nails are difficult to care for. Michelle soaked her feet and gave Mom a very thorough and caring pedicure. Mom was very grateful for this. Thank you.” - Hospice Patient's Family
Julie Berg

Julie Berg - Birthways

"Nurse Julie was with us throughout the morning on the day our son was born. Throughout the day, she provided us with care that made us feel like we were family and like we were her top priority. My husband said she stayed a few hours over her shift to help with our care after I had to have a c-section. A few days later we were lucky enough to have her again and the way she cared for us and our son was unparalleled. She made our stay at Mary Greeley very comfortable, like we could ask questions or for help with anything and she was there for us in our first days as new parents. We could never thank Julie enough; we just hope she knows the difference she made for us and how much it was appreciated." - Cody and Chelsea, Grateful Parents
Cardiac Rehab staff receive Grateful Patient Award

Patty Huisenga, Sue Tjelmeland, Gina Smith, Brenda Hoshaw & Anita Ley - Cardiac Rehab

“The professional staff of the Cardiac Rehab Program is one of the many groups at Mary Greeley Medical Center that have had a huge impact on my life since my heart attack in June of 2014 and subsequent heart attack in April 2015.

During rehab I developed a wound on my heel and they suggested it could be more than a blister and suggested I consult my PCP as soon as possible. In the end I needed to have stents put in my leg and a couple toes amputated. Because of the rehab staff, the problem was caught early and likely saved my foot and maybe my leg.

They all fill many roles in the program. They are nurses, educators, physical trainers, and sometimes just someone to talk to. I can’t imagine not having them as a resource during this critical transitional time in my life.

I would like to recognize the staff of the Cardiac Rehab Program (Patty Huisenga, Sue Tjelmeland, Gina Smith, Brenda Hoshaw and Anita Ley) for going beyond my expectations and providing me with excellent professional care.” - Dave, Grateful Patient
Photo of CFO Gary Botine presenting Grateful Patient award to Deb West and Amy McCormick.

Deb West & Amy McCormick - Home Health

“It is hard for me to believe how many months have passed since my life changed dramatically after a serious cardiac event last June. I remember very little of the day I spent in Mary Greeley’s emergency department and cardiac cath lab. What I do remember, however, is my road to recovery and the exceptional people who have helped me get to where I am today. In particular, I am grateful to two very special home health nurses, Deb West and Amy McCormick.
The skill and confidence in wound care they demonstrated when caring for me in my home was NOT unexpected. What WAS unexpected and so appreciated was the way they treated me like family. Even though wound care can be tedious and sometimes painful I always looked forward to their visits. They demonstrated concern for my comfort and wellbeing in ways I never expected.” - Grateful Patient
Alaina Bickel receives Grateful Patient Recognition from Chief Nursing Officer Neal Loes.

Alaina Bickel - Medical Telemetry

“Alaina is a nurse’s nurse and a patient’s nurse! An excellent care giver. But also a decision maker, a problem solver and she knows how to relate to her patients and coworkers. She’s a standout!” - Mimi, Grateful Patient

Grateful Patient Roy Clausen

Dr. Shane Hopkins, Susanne Briggs, Whitney Holtzen & Alyssa Hannasch - Radiation Oncology

“Thank you for your loving care, you will be a friend forever to me. I will bring (my grandson) Prince back to see you, and thanks to the other staff and caretakers also.” –Roy Clausen, Grateful Patient

Amber Sleeth Williams, Cortney Runyan and Brigett Lebeau Messa receive Grateful Patient Awards.

Nick Wells - Guest Services; Amber Sleeth Williams, Cortney Runyan & Brigett Lebeau Messa - Medical Telemetry

“I was in a state of disbelief and when we got to my dad’s room I suddenly panicked because I had no idea where his wheelchair was. Nick assured me that I didn’t have to worry, that he would find it and bring it to us. He did just that. It seems like a small thing, but I really needed that help at that moment. I was very, very grateful for Nick’s thoughtfulness and excellent service.

My father was ultimately diagnosed with pancreatic cancer with a very poor prognosis. His nurse, Amber, stood quietly and calmly in the background as we told my father of his terminal diagnosis. Out of the corner of my eye, I could see she was wiping tears from her eyes. She was sincerely sympathetic, and she went beyond the call of duty over and over again.

Cortney was my dad’s Patient Care Technician during much of his hospital stay. She was not assigned to him on his last day at MGMC, but she stopped to say good-bye and wish us well because she was afraid she wouldn’t be back before we moved to the Israel Family Hospice House. That last greeting reinforced Cortney’s wonderful empathy and was very meaningful to all of us." - Grateful Family Member

“Brigette made my father, who was experiencing a burst of energy, feel safe and confident he was going to the best place for his end of life care. Brigette was our safety net during circumstances that could have been overwhelming.” –Frankee and Jim Oleson

Ruth Castro Santana receives the Grateful Patient Award.

Ruth Castro Santana - Oncology

“Ruthie – the nurse from Heaven. When my wife was in the hospital Ruthie was the best. She would explain things when asked. She would do extra things for my wife. She was always happy to be there. The last night my wife was there she stayed late to make sure she said goodbye.” –Gene Welsh

Shelley Sedivy and Karen Crosser receive Grateful Patient Awards

Shelley Sedivy & Karen Crosser - Emergency Department

“I will be forever convinced that allowing me to be in the room with Dave, allowing me to be involved in his care, allowing me to get our daughter on the phone so she could speak with her father, tell him she loved him (for what could have been the last time), made all the difference in Dave’s subconscious determination to eventually find his way back to us.” –Betsy Schoeller, Grateful Family Member

Amy Gustoff, Sharilyn Kadolph and Jason Holland receive Grateful Patient Awards

Amy Gustoff, Sharilyn Kadolph & Jason Holland - Cardiopulmonary Services

“Despite the terror that seized my heart when I realized I could lose Dave that very day, I was gratefully aware of the calm, compassionate professionalism demonstrated by your staff. While their calm competence may be partially the result of performing skills that for them have become routine, may they always remember that for patients like Dave and their family members like me, their skilled hands, bright minds and caring hearts calm fears and offer hope.” –Betsy Schoeller, Grateful Family Member
Mike Techentin and Rod Jones receive Grateful Patient Awards

Mike Techentin & Rod Jones - Mobile Intensive Care Unit

“We will be forever grateful that you were both there on what turned out to be a fateful day in our lives. Thank you both for your care and diligent attention to Dave that night and for your caring and compassion for Stephanie and me as well. Thank you for providing both patient and family care.” –Betsy Schoeller, Grateful Family Member

Cardiac Cath Lab

Jeanette Morris, Hiram Philo & Sarah Buckels - Cardiac Cath Lab

“They were compassionate, caring professionals and conveyed a respectful and dignified attitude. I must admit the faces became a blur and yet I clearly remember Sarah telling Stephanie and me to talk to Dave; he would not be able to respond but he would hear us. I will always believe that, in his subconscious, Dave knew he was in good hands and he knew we did not want him to leave us, which helped him come back to us.” –Betsy Schoeller, Grateful Family Member

Dr. Larry Otteman

Dr. Larry Otteman - Oncology

“It was a four-and-a-half year journey that started as melanoma. We were very thankful that Dr. Otteman was David’s doctor and guided us through the experience. I appreciated everyone’s care and concern and willingness to help in any way they could.” –Mary Peterson, Grateful Family Member

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