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PeaceHealth caregivers make extraordinary effort to help unite family

Cottage Grove | Eugene | Springfield | January 2, 2020
one person's hand reaching out to the hand of another person
Oregon communities help a family come together under tragic circumstances, despite geographic and language barriers.

This is a story of loss and hope that shines the spotlight on a wonderfully compassionate group of PeaceHealth caregivers in Oregon who truly live our healing Mission.

Road accident

A terrible road accident brought life to a standstill for a hardworking, middle-aged couple of Mexican heritage. The husband was critically injured and brought to the ICU at PeaceHealth Sacred Heart Medical Center at RiverBend. His wife sustained significant bone fractures and was placed in the orthopedic unit. Both legal immigrants didn’t speak any English.

Advocating

The wife was moved 20 miles away to PeaceHealth Cottage Grove Community Medical Center for post-acute care, following standard protocol. Disabled from the accident, unable to speak English and separated from her dying husband, the woman found a guardian angel in Courtney Frainee, RN inpatient at PeaceHealth Cottage Grove.

Upon learning the woman’s story, Courtney enlisted management and leadership and advocated for the patient to be transported back to PeaceHealth Sacred Heart, so she could be with her husband during his final hours.

Leadership responds

PeaceHealth Cottage Grove’s retired Director of Nursing, Marsha Crosswhite, agreed and made a call to her Chief Administrative Officer Tim Herrmann. Tim looped in PeaceHealth Sacred Heart at RiverBend’s Chief Nursing Officer Heather Wall, who in turn asked Director of Care Management Tina Morris to help unite this family.

“Time was of the essence,” Tina recalls. “We needed to reunite this family before the man passed.”

That included the couple’s two daughters—one based in Arizona and the other in Mexico.

In an unfortunate coincidence, the daughter from Arizona and her children were in a separate road accident on the same day as they traveled to Oregon from Arizona. They weren’t seriously hurt, but their car was totaled.

A superhuman effort

Over the weekend, Tina made superhuman efforts to contact the Spanish-speaking daughter in Mexico, facilitate paperwork for emergency visas, coordinate transportation to airports and book hotel stays during layovers. When the woman’s 8-month-old baby was denied entry at the U.S. border, Tina arranged for the baby to stay with the woman’s relatives who lived several hours away in Mexico. She accomplished all of this relying on a translator and sometimes her daughter’s friend to translate English to Spanish.

“I pretty much did the journey from Mexicali to San Diego to Portland and then to Eugene with the daughter on the phone the whole way,” Tina says.

A PeaceHealth nurse consultant, Tammy Alvarez, who supports care management, picked up the daughter at the airport and brought her to PeaceHealth Sacred Heart.

Kindness everywhere

Separated from her baby, the daughter needed to pump and freeze her milk. The House Supervisor worked with nursing staff from Women’s Services to secure a breast pump to be brought to her and helped figure out how her milk could be stored.

With a big-name concert in Eugene that weekend, not a hotel room could be found. Tina received top executive approval for the daughter to stay in the PeaceHealth Sisters suite – a special suite at the hospital reserved for our top donors.

Final goodbye

By then, the couple’s other daughter from Arizona and her children had arrived at the hospital. The family spent 24 precious hours together before the daughters helped their mother decide to withdraw life support for their father. PeaceHealth Sacred Heart helped arrange the cremation that followed.memorial with flowers, photos and guitar

While one daughter went back to Mexico to be with her baby, the other decided she and her children would stay in Oregon to support her mother who faced several months of rehabilitation, follow-up surgery and care before she could get back on her feet.

It takes a village

Over several months, PeaceHealth Oregon’s care management team continued to help this family: find a no-cost living arrangement, move food stamps from Arizona to Oregon, enroll the children in school, apply for Oregon Health Plan insurance, schedule the patient’s surgery, and organize a Celebration of Life event in honor of the patient’s late husband.

Because of PeaceHealth’s advocacy, the family has now secured low-income housing and the daughter has found a job. The mother has been discharged and the family is healing together slowly.

“This family was in true crisis and had so many short-term and long-term needs,” says Anamaria Clemons, social work manager at Sacred Heart at RiverBend. “The Sacred Heart at RiverBend and Cottage Grove community wrapped their arms around this family. So many of our PeaceHealth caregivers on the care management team, the ICU unit and the swing bed unit have gone out of their way to show compassion and caring.”

Several church groups in Cottage Grove are also pitching in to help the family transition.

Special thanks go out to:

  • PeaceHealth Oregon’s leadership and care management team who have gone above and beyond to ensure this family receives charity care in their time of need.
  • Director of Care Management Tina Morris; Social Work Manager Anamaria Clemons; former ICU Medical Social Worker Jordan Deines; RN Care Manager Ortho Unit Denise Bell; RN Care Manager Ortho Unit Michelle Garrette; Medical Social Worker Ortho Unit Elaine Ambers; Community Health Worker Ana Maria Dudley, and Medical Social Worker, Elizabeth Sawyers, who continue to provide support and resources for the family.
  • Ana Maria Dudley, community health worker, who helped get the children enrolled in federally funded migrant program that offered a school-like environment during the summer. She and Lyn Cogswell, chaplain associate, helped arrange a Celebration of Life.
  • Susan Tharpe, CNA, who helped the patient with personal errands, and even found pictures of her husband to frame, so the patient could look at them in her room and have them displayed during the Celebration of Life.
  • Several caregivers on the unit helped the patient do her hair and nails prior to the Celebration of Life.
  • Hospitalist, Dr. Marta Hantke, who bought backpacks and school supplies for the children.
  • Angela Brambila, RN inpatient, who bought water bottles and gym clothes for the children for school.
  • Kat Rio, RN inpatient lead, who bought shoes and clothes for the patient and toys for the children.
  • Dr. Arnoldo Padilla Vazquez, who was available for Spanish communications issues when needed.
  • Nurse Manager, Lana Sherwin, who supported her team, the family and bought shoes for the patient.

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