Patient Reflections

Patient Reflections

Something to Live For

When Dale Cooksley, Elgin, and his family arrived at Palmer Lutheran Health Center, they were unsure what the future would hold. What started out as a typical cold soon turned deadly for the 72 year-old man. Wife, Peggy, remembers, “We never imagined he was that sick. He had a bad cold; that is all it was. But, all of a sudden, I knew something was really wrong and called 911 when he started to have a hard time breathing.”

Coming into Palmer’s Emergency Room, the staff performed CPR on Dale twice and put him on a ventilator. Once stable, he was immediately shipped to a Waterloo hospital where he was diagnosed with pneumonia, and later COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), and placed in the Intensive Care Unit for 5 days. Once Dale was off the ventilator, he was weak…so weak, in fact, he was unable to even stand. However, once he was well enough to transfer, Dale’s family insisted he be transferred to Palmer Lutheran Health Center.

Daughter, Lydia Hepke, explains, “We wanted him home! The trip to Waterloo each day was really hard on the entire family. The hospital had doubts that Dad would recover well at a smaller hospital and wanted to send him to a nursing home, but we were having none of that.”

Peggy continues, “I can’t believe they wanted to send him to a nursing home. We knew we had a long road ahead of us, but he wasn’t nursing home material. We were taking him to Palmer to get better and then, he was coming home.”

Prior to arriving at Palmer, Lydia states she had doubts about a small-town hospital and its ability to do more for her father than a large hospital. However, that quickly changed.

“Right from the beginning, we knew everyone cared about Dad. They showed hope in him and his recovery, just like we did as his family.”

Working daily with physical therapy, occupational therapy and speech therapy, Dale slowly started to progress. Unable to stand when he arrived at Palmer, physical therapy worked with him on strengthening and doing exercises to get him mobile. He was up and taking steps within a few weeks. Occupational therapy helped with arm strength and balancing and speech therapy worked on speech and memory issues.

“I’m not sure how speech therapy works with memory issues, but they did,” Lydia laughs. “I don’t think of speech and immediately think of memory, but somehow they got through to him. His memory isn’t what it used to be and he can’t remember much of what has recently occurred but has all these old memories that the therapist brought out of him.”

Looking at his grandchildren, Draven and Adeda, sitting on his lap, Dale smiles, “There are certain things I will never forget! I may forget the exact number of grandchildren and great-grandchildren I have, but will never forget any of them or their faces!”

In addition to rehab services, Dale also received services from Pulmonary Rehab a few times each week. Being on the ventilator drastically affected his breathing making oxygen a daily requirement. So, Pulmonary Rehab would work with Dale on breathing treatments and techniques to increase his oxygen levels.

“And, who can forget about the nursing staff,” Lydia says. “They would come in to do vitals, bring medications or just to visit with Dad and with us. They were wonderful! Dad really liked all the nurses, aides and housekeepers. They put up with his one-of-a-kind personality!”

Peggy chimes in, “I’d have to give credit to the kitchen staff! I ate at the hospital all the time and the food was wonderful. Anything you don’t have to cook yourself is amazing, but I got spoiled as the food was so good! They really went above and beyond with our requests.”

Unfortunately, Peggy had to say ‘So Long!’ to those wonderful home-cooked meals as five weeks after arriving at Palmer, Dale was strong enough to go home.

“We didn’t go home alone!” Peggy laughs. “Palmer followed us there too. Home Health and Medical Supply have been really helpful at home.”

According to the Cooksley family, Palmer Home Health went to Dale’s home prior to discharge to ensure the house was safe and to help prepare for Dale’s homecoming. Palmer Home Medical Equipment came out as well to provide Dale with supplies to make him return home easier, such as a hospital bed and wheelchair. They also provide oxygen to Dale and assist with the oxygen management.

“Don’t forget about my sideboard for moving me!” Dale laughs. “That worked slicker than anything! Peggy can even move me now.”

In addition, a registered home health nurse would visit routinely to check on Dale’s vitals, draw blood and check medication.

“It was so nice to not have to worry about getting Dale to the doctor’s office for these things,” Peggy sighed. “With him in a wheelchair, it is quite an ordeal to transport him. Thank goodness Lydia is here to help so much.”

In addition to the home health nurse, Palmer Rehab Services followed Dale home to continue with physical, occupational and speech therapy. Dale also uses a telemonitor device, which measures heart rate, blood pressure, and weight, and provides customizable disease-related questions for a more complete picture of an individual’s health. The device is set up by Home Health and automatically prompts the patient with a friendly voice and easy-to-use interface guide the patient at every step.

“Home Health has been amazing,” Peggy explains. “I had a concern, called Palmer and they came to our house right away. It was great as I would have taken Dale to the Emergency Room but didn’t as it was something the nurse could help me with.”

Utilizing Palmer Lutheran Health Center’s services has been a decision the Cooksley family will never regret.

“Dad’s sole purpose in getting better and going home was to spend more time with the family, especially, his grandchildren and great-grandchildren. And, Palmer made that possible,” Lydia smiles.

Nodding, Peggy finishes, “If it wasn’t for Palmer, Dale wouldn’t be here today. I believe that with all my heart. They gave him and us hope. And, gave him something that is priceless…more time with family.”