Exceptional emergency and skilled care when vacationing in northeast Iowa

Emergency care services offered at Veterans Memorial Hospital ... Often accidents and health emergencies arise when enjoying the outdoor activities northeast Iowa offers, and one finds themselves being taken to an unfamiliar health care facility. That was the case for Darwin Thirtyacre of Iowa City, who suffered a stroke while camping in Lansing. He has chosen to continue his recovery in Waukon and is pictured here with several members of his health care team. Pictured above, left to right, Austin Troendle, Physical Therapist; Kim Gossling, RN; Melissa Clark, Occupational Therapist; Darwin Thirtyacre, Penny Wheeler, C.N.A. and Marissa Shelton, RN. Submitted photo.

Northeast Iowa attracts thousands of visitors and vacationers each year, especially during the summer months. Often accidents and health emergencies arise when enjoying these outdoor activities, and emergency care is needed, and one finds themselves being taken to an unfamiliar health care facility.

That was the case for Darwin Thirtyacre of Iowa City, who has a permanent camping spot each summer at the Red Barn Resort in Lansing.  He awoke Sunday morning, June 4, unable to walk and could barely talk. His wife called the ambulance and the Lansing Rescue Service quickly responded, transporting him to Veterans Memorial Hospital in Waukon where he was treated for his stroke.

“I woke up Sunday morning and nothing worked on my left side. It was bad,” explains Darwin. “The ambulance crew brought me here and I am so glad they did. I am astounded by the staff and the care I received from nursing, therapy, everybody who cared for me. They all know each other and are one big family.”

Darwin was treated for his stroke, then remained as an inpatient to begin the very next day the physical, occupational and speech therapy he needed to recover. After a three-day acute inpatient stay, the staff worked to get him transferred to Skilled Care status, which allowed him to remain in the hospital for his therapy twice each day, to continue regaining strength and independence before returning home. On Skilled Care, Darwin was also able to live quite independently, dressing in his own clothes each day, and learning the needed skills to get back home.

“Melissa in Occupational Therapy walked right in that next morning with a huge smile and ready to help. She is so good and has turned her job into an art form. Steven, Speech Therapist, helped me to gain my voice back and was so good, and Brad is so amazing and comfortable with all of his patients having been here almost 30 years. But Dr. Schwartz is amazing. He just shocked me with his personality, even though he had no idea who I was. One day my wife and I were outside the hospital and he wheeled me into the shade and pulled a picnic table over for my wife to sit on. I couldn’t believe a doctor took time to do that.  He’s just unbelievable!”

“Living in Iowa City when you have to go to the hospital, you are just a number, not that that’s a bad thing, it is just the way it is,” adds Darwin. “Being in a hospital anytime stinks, but if you have to be in one, this is the one to be in! There is no doubt about it. The staff is just marvelous.”

During Darwin’s seven-day skilled care stay, his son remodeled the entrance to the camper, building a ramp for easier access so he can continue his recovery this summer in Lansing.

“I had the choice to return to Iowa City for my therapy, but I have decided to stay here, living at the campground, driving to Veterans Memorial Hospital in Waukon to continue my outpatient therapy.  I chose to stay here with these astounding, real-world people who have already helped me so much, and we love Lansing so we are so thankful to have this option to continue recovering right here. Everyone is just so outstanding. I am so appreciative of everything.”

Veterans Memorial Hospital’s Emergency Department is available 24 hours a day for emergencies for these summer travelers and everyone else. Plus, the Waukon and Postville Clinics are open Monday through Friday for appointments and walk-ins are welcome. For more information, call the hospital at 563-568-3411.