Prayers, meals, rides & a new roof

Springfield | August 30, 2017
Colleagues rally to show beloved co-worker the same compassion she has shown others

In a hospital thick with compassionate, Mission-driven caregivers, Barb Guse stands out.

Anyone who works with her will tell you that, as will many of the patients, family members and other guests lucky enough to get in her register line at the RiverBend Café at PeaceHealth Sacred Heart Medical Center-RiverBend in Springfield, Oregon.

“She might just be the sweetest, most caring person I’ve ever met. She always has a smile on her face and greets every person with a caring touch. She exemplifies what our Mission stands for,” according to Courtney Campos, a lead pharmacy technician at RiverBend, who nominated Guse for a service excellence award a couple years ago.

But on March 30, 2017, Guse’s big heart turned against her. She’d been having back pain, and it got bad enough that night that she drove herself to RiverBend to get checked out at the emergency department. She was waiting in triage when she suddenly slumped over in her chair. Her heart had stopped; it took the ED team 20 minutes to get it beating again.

She spent two weeks in the intensive care unit—in a coma for much of them—and another two weeks in the heart and vascular unit. She was discharged on April 26, with a long road to recovery ahead.

Guse’s coworkers knew it was their turn to show their beloved colleague the same kind of compassion she shows others. Caregivers from across the hospital prayed for her, sat by her side, delivered meals, gave her rides to medical appointments and helped tidy her house. Knowing how much she loves her many rescued cats, a team from Women and Children’s Services brought her supplies of cat food and kitty litter.

But they didn’t stop there. After learning about a charitable program offered by River Roofing in nearby Eugene, April Burton, patient team support on the pediatrics/adolescent care unit, launched a signature drive to get Guse and her husband, Dave Guse, a new roof for their house. Since 2009, River Roofing has provided a new roof for family or individual in need, based on nominations from neighbors or acquaintances.

Burton collected 1,850 signatures, and the Guses—both of whom work two jobs to make ends meet—will soon be getting their new roof.

Here’s some of what Burton wrote in the nomination letter:

“Barb has the ability to read people in a moment then craft personal words of encouragement with her genuine smile. Additional kind words that you could use to describe Barb are endless but here are just a few: generous spirit, thoughtful, and attentive … It has been identified that Barb’s home in in desperate need of a new roof. To aid in her recovery it is imperative for Barb to have some things taken care of so she doesn’t have to work so hard and has time to rest. Helping to provide a new roof would be life changing blessing that would contribute to her recovery and relieve her family of a tremendous burden.”

Guse said the outpouring of love and generosity has been overwhelming—though perhaps not surprising. The PeaceHealth family is just like that, she noted.

“I love PeaceHealth—it’s a huge part of my life,” said Guse, who worked a variety of jobs—waitress, secretary and spay/neuter charity operator, to name a few—before joining Sacred Heart’s food service team 13 years ago. “It’s been life-changing. This feels like my family. I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for the team at PeaceHealth. I want to tell everybody how much I love them and appreciate all the prayers and everything they’ve done for me.”

Guse doesn’t know yet when—or if—she’ll be able to return to work. “But I’ll never leave PeaceHealth,” she said. “I’ll either work here or I’ll volunteer here.”