Letter to the Editor by Lowell L. Engle

To the Editor:

As we move into the New Year, I find myself giving thanks for living in Iowa and for having Veterans Memorial Hospital (VMH) and their entire staff serving us.

December 1 I suffered a serious accident while working in the woods with my son, Jonathon. We were working recovering firewood from a steep hillside on my farm and I was struck by a falling tree. The blow from the tree fractured my right femur and destroyed the artificial knee which had been implanted 21 years ago.

The Harpers Ferry Fire Department Rescue Squad brought me out of the woods and delivered me to VMH where they diagnosed the full extent of my injuries. Once the full extent of my injuries was known, the hospital staff began the search for anyplace to do the repairs required. It took all day to find a surgical team that does the type of work needed and that turned out to be University of Iowa Hospital in Iowa City.

I was delivered to Iowa City to await the availability of the surgical team. It turns out that Iowa City has one of only two surgical teams in the upper Midwest that does the type of surgery required.

I was squeezed into a busy schedule December 3 and had the required surgery. The Iowa City hospital was busy with a new wave of COVID-19, RSV and influenza patients, so I ended up in the only available bed in the burn ward.

After the surgery, Iowa City started a search for the type of rehab I was going to need and it turned out that VMH was one of three in our area capable of handling what I needed. We immediately began lobbying for transfer back to Waukon and thanks to Herculean efforts by VMH Social Worker Laura, we were able to get that set up. We were unable to arrange professional transfer back to Waukon, so we put a sleeping bag and several pillows in the back of the Jeep and made the trek back to Waukon.

I cannot thank enough the efforts of the VMH rehab center. Amy runs a wonderful unit staffed by a great group of caring, competent people. Brad was initially responsible for the rehab I needed and was there every day for me in my room.  Amy was also there when Brad could not be. But the lady who brightened my day getting cleaned up was Melissa. I can never thank her enough for her caring and dedication and allowing me to feel like an elephant bathing at the local water hole getting cleaned up every day.

Once recovered from surgery, I made it home and went on a three day per week rehab schedule in the hospital.

I was blessed being assigned to Austin and Abie for the initial stages of my rehab. I have much experience with the rehab center since they got me going after all my previous surgeries for knee, hip and shoulder replacements. Austin and Abie did not disappoint. I am making great progress with my recovery thanks to what we have available here in Allamakee County.

So, I say to all county residents - give thanks for what we have, support the local fire department and rescue teams and the hospital staff in every way possible, and give thanks for living in a beautiful spot on this earth.

Lowell L. Engle
Harpers Ferry