Success Stories

Donald Parker

The best moment at NCLTAH for Donald? When the CEO shook his hand and stated, “you’re a miracle man.”

Donald Parker is a 63-year-old, retired Vietnam-era veteran. Donald loved retired life, spending it golfing, fishing and taking care of his grandchildren. His favorite part of being a grandparent was babysitting his grandkids and taking them school.

One December day, Donald was found unconscious in his car. He had been headed to pick up his grandkids from school. Taken to an acute care hospital, Donald was diagnosed with a subarachnoid hemorrhage. A subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH) is a life-threatening type of stroke caused by bleeding into the space surrounding the brain.

Donald’s condition prevented him from making decisions while hospitalized. His daughter, Katie McElderry, is a case manager at Northern Colorado Long Term Acute Hospital. Knowing NCLTAH’s capabilities, Katie decided to transfer her father there. Katie noted that “NCLTAH has fantastic physicians, caring staff, and great outcomes!”

“The nurses were so patient and kind,” Donald noted, reflecting on his stay at Northern Colorado Long Term Acute Hospital. “Everyone had a good sense of humor in this difficult situation,” he added. While at NCLTAH, Donald even met a friend he used to work.

The best moment at NCLTAH for Donald? When the CEO shook his hand and stated, “you’re a miracle man.”

“He thrived at Northern Colorado Long Term Acute Hospital,” Katie stated. “He progressed so quickly due to working with a knowledgeable team!”

Donald discharged to acute rehabilitation for a few weeks, then home with his daughter for a month. He now is back living alone and independent.

Donald states his definition of success is “being able to play golf again and getting back to life.” Donald is now able to watch his grandkids grow up and be there for his family. He truly is a miracle man!

 

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Lois Van Mark

After spending months in the hospital, Lois Van Mark came to NCLTAH for ventilator weaning.

Lois Van Mark was enjoying her new job as the State Executive Director of Farm Service Agency. The 62-year-old from Torrington, WY is the fourth generation operating her family’s no-till dry land wheat farm in southeast Goshen County. An art major in college, Lois enjoys painting, drawing and making crafts. But that was all about to be put on hold.

Lois hadn’t been feeling well for about a year when she admitted to the local hospital in Torrington for edema and worsening cellulitis. Worsening acute respiratory failure during her stay required a transfer to Regional West Medical Center in Scottsbluff, NE. Lois now required a ventilator, tracheostomy and feeding tube. For a three-month stretch, Lois doesn’t remember a thing.

That’s when Lois transferred to Northern Colorado Long Term Acute Hospital. Her pulmonologist at Regional West Medical Center and her family felt NCLTAH could provide the best care for Lois.

Lois weaned from the ventilator while at NCLTAH. But the prolonged stretch of unconsciousness, paired with her time on a ventilator left Lois physically weak. Lois would need more rehabilitation to regain her strength. Her family chose to remain close and admit Lois to Northern Colorado Rehabilitation Hospital.

At NCRH, Lois learned how to stand and walk again. “The therapists were so encouraging, patient and always smiling,” Lois recalls. “My recovery was influenced by God, prayers, and family support. Dr. Pearson, Dr. Walker, the nurses and aides were all so helpful!”

“Both Northern Colorado Long Term Acute Care and Northern Colorado Rehabilitation Hospital were wonderful experiences,” Lois adds.

Her rehabilitation complete, Lois discharged home using only a walker. “God has put me on this earth for a reason,” Lois states, “and I take every day as it comes.” Lois is excited to be back at her job and back to painting, drawing and crafts.

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Shelly Walter

Shelly works as an RN in Loveland

Shelly Walter, 54, spent much of her free time enjoying the outdoors. She was an avid rock climber, skier, and travel enthusiast. When she wasn’t spending time outdoors or with her family, she worked as a registered nurse in Loveland, Colorado.

Over a few days, Shelly began experiencing fevers, followed by memory loss. She admitted to a local hospital. There, she received treatment for acute hypoxic respiratory failure and an influenza B infection. Shelly then transferred to Northern Colorado Long Term Acute Hospital for follow-up treatment.

During her stay, Shelly’s condition continued to escalate. She endured additional complications including toxic shock syndrome, acute cardiomyopathy, dysphagia, protein calorie malnutrition, and anemia.

“My illnesses were great, but my support was even greater,” Shelly says. “From the very beginning, the staff was positive, compassionate, and encouraging. They treated me like a family member. They got to know me on a personal level, figuring out how much I love the outdoors. And so they incorporated the outdoors into my therapy. Even on my difficult days, they knew how to make me smile and kept my spirits high.”

After a few weeks of treatment at NCLTAH, Shelly transferred to Northern Colorado Rehabilitation Hospital. “Even there, I was still valued as a family member,” Shelly says. “The dietitian and nutrition manager customized my nutrition plan to accommodate my vegetarian lifestyle. And with the rehabilitation, they focused on not just the physical aspects, but the emotional and mental aspects of it, as well.” Shelly discharged a week later, able to independently walk out of the facility.

Shelly was able to make her family’s annual camping trip to Leadville, Colorado this year. While there, she biked more than 25 miles. “I believe that whatever life throws at you, you have to stay positive and enjoy every moment you can,” she says. “Thanks to my family and the rehabilitation I received, I am back doing the things I love with the people I love.”

After discharge, Shelly biked over 25 miles at her family’s annual camping trip

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Local Hospitals Help Return Gillette Man Home

When Christopher Lauck of Gillette, Wyo., mixed CLR (Calcium, Lime, Rust remover) with bleach this past summer, the result was life-threatening. The 32-year-old coal mine equipment operator went into respiratory failure after breathing in the fumes.

Respiratory failure occurs when there isn’t enough oxygen passing from the lungs into the body’s bloodstream, which creates the potential to critically harm the body’s organs like the heart and brain. In Lauck’s case, he was rushed to a local hospital and put on a mechanical ventilator to help him breathe. After about a month at the hospital, he was transferred to Northern Colorado Long Term Acute Hospital for continued care. He was still on a ventilator.

“While the ventilator plays a critical, life-saving role, it was important to get Christopher removed from it as quickly and safely as possible to avoid complications,” says Dr. Gary Pearson, Medical Director of Northern Colorado Long Term Acute Hospital. “He had received prolonged mechanical ventilation, which requires specialized medical assistance in being weaned off of it.”

At the hospital, an interdisciplinary respiratory failure team created a personalized plan of care with Lauck and his family members that was tailored to his complex, medical needs. The team used proven clinical practices, evidence-based research, and the latest technology to help remove Lauck from the ventilator within two weeks.

“The physicians and medical team were very thorough and provided excellent care,” Lauck says. “I felt good about the treatments and felt at home.”

Soon after Lauck was removed from the ventilator, he was transferred to Northern Colorado Rehabilitation Hospital. He began participating in physical, occupational, and speech therapy. He relearned how to perform daily activities such as walking, eating, dressing – and his favorite, competitive shooting.

“My therapists found out I enjoyed competitive shooting, so during therapy, I began using a laser to shoot at targets,” Lauck says. “It was a really positive experience and helped me to see that I was going to be able to return back to doing the things I enjoyed.”

Lauck returned home at the beginning of September. He has since returned back to work, competitive shooting, and spending time with his friends.

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Outdoor Enthusiast Returns
to the Great Outdoors

Local Hospitals Return Outdoor Enthusiast to the Outdoors

From mountain biking to hiking to camping, 51-year-old Marty Wood of Lusk, Wyo., spent much of his free time enjoying the outdoors. When he wasn’t racing down the sides of mountains on his bike, he took on another thrilling and challenging task, being a high school principal.

This past April, however, Wood began experiencing heart attack-like symptoms. After being taken to a local hospital for initial healthcare treatment, Wood found out that he had a dissecting aortic aneurysm. He was transferred to Northern Colorado Long Term Acute Hospital in May where he continued to receive healthcare treatment.

“A dissecting aortic aneurysm is a serious and uncommon condition in which the large blood vessel branching off the heart tears,” explains Dr. Gary Pearson, Medical Director at Northern Colorado Long Term Acute Hospital. “This causes blood to surge through the tear, causing the layers of the vessel to dissect or separate.”

Wood was unable to speak when he first arrived due to his condition, so the nurses devised a code system for him so that he could communicate with the staff. “They gave me a voice I didn’t have,” Wood says. “Therapy taught me how to eat and drink again, but the compassion from the staff gave me hope.”

Wood is one of numerous patients who have received treatment at Northern Colorado Long Term Acute Hospital. “Patients are our passion,” Pearson says. “We understand that each patient’s situation is unique, so we work alongside each patient and family to devise a specialized healthcare treatment plan that will work best for them.”

After a few weeks of therapy at the long-term acute care hospital, Wood was transferred to Northern Colorado Rehabilitation Hospital for rehabilitation. “I was completely dependent when I arrived back in May. When I came to the rehabilitation hospital, I began to gain my independence back,” he says. “The staff gave me dignity and respect. They all believed in me and my recovery.”

When Wood arrived at Northern Colorado Rehabilitation Hospital, he suffered from paralysis, low levels of oxygen in his blood, and kidney failure, all caused by the dissecting aortic aneurysm. He received physical and occupational therapy at the hospital to help regain strength and use of his muscles so he could re-learn how to walk independently and perform daily activities like eating and brushing his teeth.

“The staff got to know me for who I was before my condition,” Wood says. “They learned about how much I loved biking and the outdoors, so they incorporated that into my therapy, having me run through the mud and ride a bike. I was fighting every step of the way on the road to recovery and the staff was fighting right alongside me.”

Wood was released from Northern Colorado Rehabilitation Hospital back in July. He now is independent with the use of a front-wheel walker and hopes to be back on the mountains enjoying the outdoors soon.

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