Put yourself in Patricia Pung’s shoes. You’re scheduled for an aortic valve replacement at Trinity Health in Minot, N.D., your hometown. You feel comfortable with your physician, Dr. Christopher Phillips, a heart and lung surgeon who previously worked at Cleveland Clinic, consistently ranked number one for their heart care. You feel good about the procedure.
Then, best laid plans start to crumble. Your surgeon is injured and can’t perform surgery. He recommends that you travel to Grand Forks to see Dr. Barry Bjorgaard at Altru Health System. That’s over 200 miles from the comforts of home.
“Mom was scared because she didn’t know the surgeon, the staff, or the facility,” said Michael Winkleman, Patricia’s son.
“Dr. Phillips recommended Dr. Bjorgaard with the highest regard,” said Patricia, 53. “I’m so grateful he did.”
Comfort from the Start
Even before Patricia was admitted at Altru, she could tell she was headed to the right place. “They made phone calls and got all my files and paperwork there in time,” she said. “When we arrived, it was all taken care of. The extra steps Altru took made it easy for us.”
“When we arrived, my dad and I looked at each other and said, ‘This is meant to be,’” said Michael. “We were greeted right when we walked in the door. It was like we were at Disneyland– everyone had a smile on their face.”
“They went out of their way to help us,” said Patricia. “The hospital was cleaner than any one I had ever been in. The staff always washed their hands and made sure everyone else did as well.”
“The doctors and nurses took her care to heart; no pun intended,” said Michael. “It was more than just a procedure. They gave her the encouragement she needed. They made it a comfortable, healing environment. We’d lost a little hope in medical facilities, until now. It’s a totally new experience here.”
Little Things Matter
Michael recalled the first meeting with Dr. Bjorgaard. “The first thing he did was hold my mom’s hand and ask her how she was doing,” he said. “That good bedside manner means a lot, not only to my mom, but to our family.”
Throughout his mom’s stay, Michael was amazed at the time the care staff took with their family. Updates were given on a regular basis. If he had a question, it was immediately answered.
Patricia made a friend in nurse Emilee Froiland. When Patricia was out of surgery, they joked about going for a quick run together. Instead, Patricia later returned to Altru with cookies for Emilee.
Upon discharge, Patricia went back home to Minot. She saw Dr. Phillips at Trinity for her post-operative care. “I was pleased with how Patricia’s care was handled,” he said. “They were very professional.”
“The follow-up care and phone calls I received from Altru were exceptional,” she said. “I would never go anywhere else for any type of major surgery,” said Patricia. “Everything was perfect. I cannot say enough good things about my experience.”
What little things matter to you when receiving health care?