Emergency Stories

Faces of Inspiration Jeff and Sue Photo


World's greatest hospital

Jeff Olson feels lucky to be alive. He could have lost a limb – and more – after a horrific car accident. But, after 40 days of inpatient stay and 15 surgeries, Jeff is now fully recovered and insists HCMC is the "world's greatest hospital." Throughout his recovery, Jeff felt "great strength and spirit from every single person that walked into the room.” That includes his wife, Sue, who was so impressed by HCMC she now works here! Both are thankful that HCMC employees breathe life into the mission each and every day. Hear more about their story: hcmc.org/jeffandsue Source: youTube


FOI Laurie Willhite Photo


Your poison expert

Residents in Minnesota, North Dakota, and South Dakota who call 1-800-222-1222 for help in a poison emergency are routed to the Poison Center at HCMC – and to a poison expert like Laurie Willhite. Laurie is a pharmacist who provides assessment, treatment plans, and follow-up for poison cases. "Callers are often anxious and it is our job to help people through that, gather information, and make good decisions." In 2014, Laurie and her colleagues provided immediate help to 64,454 callers. Many of these cases are safely managed at home, reducing unnecessary and expensive emergency room visits. Success comes from clear and open communication. By building connections with her callers over the phone, Laurie obtains the information she needs to help poisoned patients.

FOI Tim Davis Photo


Making it better together

Before September 1, 2012 – the day of the accident – Tim Davis's energies went toward the construction company he owned, playing the drums, golfing, and riding his motorcycle. But after a 30,000-pound steel truss fell on him, it was hard to live the life he once did. Tim suffered severe damage to his forearm, torn cartilage in his shoulder, a fractured spine, and a traumatic brain injury (TBI). Now, more than two years into his recovery, Tim has found a new outlet for his energy by giving back to HCMC and the people who he says "genuinely cared." Tim is partnering with our TBI Center to start a Peer Mentor Program. "I wish I had someone to talk to who had experienced what I had, and this program will allow patients to do that." With the support of our staff, Tim has transformed an unfortunate accident into an opportunity to make a difference.


Rick and Alma


Calm in Times of Chaos

While staying with their daughter in Minnesota's busiest Emergency Department, Rick and Alma Wright never felt neglected. Caelli’s health care providers kept them informed, explained what they were doing, and invited questions. "The team was considerate and worked hard to keep our daughter and us at the center." Rick and Alma say they will always remember the experience, not only because of the emotional turmoil they felt, but also because of how the team partnered with them as family members. "They were calm and reassuring in the midst of chaos," said Rick. "Our daughter is back at school, dancing, biking, and doing all the things that a college student should be. She doesn't remember much about the care she received at HCMC, but her mother and I do, and will, always."


CAY Pat & Duffy Photo


A Happy Ending

Duffy Fallon’s life changed forever at a high school hockey game when he was slammed hard into the boards and suffered a traumatic brain injury. Before HCMC took over his care, Duffy went to what felt like a never-ending series of medical appointments that brought little progress and a lot of frustration. “Our world changed once we got to HCMC’s Traumatic Brain Injury Center,” said Pat, his father. “Instead of telling him what he couldn’t do, the doctor said, ‘Duffy, I can help you.’ And the optimism of that one single sitting changed our lives and changed his attitude.” The healthcare team was confident in the treatment plan, patient but firm in their approach, and focused at all times on his potential. “This was a kid that had been an honor roll student and had aspirations of going to a good college,” said Pat. With HCMC’s help, Duffy recovered most of his former capabilities and reached a goal that would make any father proud: admission into Boston College.

FOI Keith Velaski Photo


Smooth landings

Keith Velaski is an essential partner on the HCMC team, but you won't find him in any of our units or clinics – you'd need to look UP! Keith works as a flight nurse for Life Link III, an air medical transport company. HCMC is a long-time member of the Life Link III consortium and uses this critical care service to safely transfer patients. Keith and his team arrive by helicopter and land on the top of our nine-story parking ramp. "We just love what we do and are grateful to have the opportunity to help people," said Keith. The staff at Life Link III and HCMC share a common focus on the needs of the patient and family. With every flight he is dedicated to providing the highest level of care with a human touch. As he says to families before takeoff: "I'm going to take really good care of your loved one."


Tom and Nancy Nordeen


An Extraordinary Story

Tom and Nancy Nordeen spent a week at HCMC recovering from carbon monoxide poisoning. Their bodies had absorbed deadly levels of the gas, and the fact that they had survived was miraculous. What was also extraordinary, according to Tom and Nancy and their family, was not just the clinical care but the caring they received here. At a time when they were at their weakest, Tom and Nancy were treated with dignity and respect. The couple marveled at the kindness and patience shown by staff while assisting them in personal care tasks, and the attention paid to their family members throughout the experience. "There was always someone around from our family, and the staff were willing to accommodate them and keep them informed and involved," said Tom.

Faces of Inspiration Jake LaFerriere Photo


Helping Me Through

"They were there to help me through it," said Firefighter Jake LaFerriere of the people who cared for him at HCMC after he was seriously burned in a house fire. In fact, when he talks about his experiences here, Jake time and again says that HCMC helped him through. What he means is that the staff did more than just tend to his wounds. They treated him as a person—a person who was dealing with a life-changing event and in order to stay positive, needed encouragement and compassion. "They really cared," Jake said.



Pat and Bob Hall

A Winning Team

During her stay at HCMC after going into cardiac arrest at a Twins game, Pat Hall was impressed by the coordination of care she received. Just as the Twins' teamwork led to a win that day, the quick and expert coordination among Pat’s paramedics, nurses, and doctors led to a major victory for Pat. And what's more, the teamwork that saved her life also extended to her husband, Bob, and her four children. "HCMC included them in my care, kept everyone informed, and provided exceptional spiritual support for all of us."



Faces of Inspiration Roy Swander Photo

A Birthday to Remember

On the day Roy Swander turned 52, he was admitted to HCMC. Although he would have preferred to spend his birthday somewhere—anywhere—else, Roy marvels at how HCMC was able to make it a positive experience. "I felt very cared for," Roy said. He was much more than a patient to the medical center staff; he was a person. They shared information with him, listened to his concerns, and perhaps most important, honored his birthday. "I’ve told all my friends about HCMC," he said. "It is definitely not your normal hospital. I felt much more of a connection to the providers here."


Cody Edwards

Curious about My Care

After surviving three open-heart surgeries in three weeks, Cody Edwards could not help but look back and wonder just what had happened. With pages and pictures from reference books, and copies of his surgical reports, he assembled a "therapy book" to bring to his surgeons for further explanation. The time they spent together poring over the materials helped him understand why he was still alive—and why he chose Hennepin County Medical Center. At HCMC, where the care and conversations are centered around him, Cody can be curious. He can ask questions and find the answers he needs to fully participate in his own care. "At HCMC the staff dealt with more than just the problem I came in with," Cody said. "They dealt with the whole person."