The Importance of Care at Home

By the time Bill Buck made it to Altru’s emergency room, he was in so much pain it was difficult to get out of bed. He and his wife, Karen, thought it was a bad case of constipation. After seeing x-rays and CT scans, Dr. Joel Johnson suspected something else. It was colon cancer.

“When I found out I had cancer, I was angry,” said Bill. “‘Why me?’ was my initial reaction.”

“It caught us completely off-guard,” said Karen. “Here we thought it was something minor, when really, it was cancer.”

Within two hours, Bill was admitted and prepped for surgery with Dr. Donald DeBeltz. “He’s a wonderful surgeon,” said Bill. “He has an incredible bedside manner.”

After surgery, Bill began working with oncologist Dr. Daniel Walsh at Altru Cancer Center, a part of Altru he and Karen knew existed, but didn’t know much about.

“We didn’t hesitate to come here,” said Bill. “The gals at the front are so welcoming. They always call us by name, ask how I’m feeling and if I’m in any pain. It’s almost as if they’re related to you; they care so much.”

Reassurance from Experts
Bill completed 12 chemotherapy treatments from April through October 2011. In January 2012, a screening colonoscopy revealed cancer was still present, and Bill had surgery again with Dr. DeBeltz. After a PET scan in March still showed cancer, more chemotherapy was ordered.

One thing continually comforting Bill and Karen is frequent communication with experts at Mayo Clinic. Dr. Walsh utilizes eConsults to consult with a Mayo Clinic specialist about Bill’s care plan.

“Dr. Walsh is an excellent cancer doctor and they do a great job in Grand Forks,” said Karen. “The fact that Mayo is involved is an added bonus. We’ve had previous experiences with Mayo, and it’s a wonderful institution. But, the cost is outlandish to get there.”

“They keep us informed of everything going on with Bill’s care,” said Karen. “Every time they talk with Mayo, they tell us. Anytime Dr. Walsh does something for Bill, it becomes part of his medical record so Dr. DeBeltz and Dr. [William] Mann, his primary physician, can stay updated as well.”

“It’s really a blessing in disguise,” said Bill, of staying in Grand Forks for care. “I’m tired and wouldn’t be able to help with the driving, so the whole load would be on her. It’s comforting knowing we can stay here.”

The Long Haul
“It’s very frustrating sometimes because he’s not the best patient,” said Karen of her husband of 30 years. “We’re in this together for the long haul. You just do what you have to do.”

With Karen by his side, Bill continues to receive chemotherapy to keep the cancer from growing and spreading to other parts of his body. They’re continually impressed with the care they receive, both as patient and spouse.

“Every single person – from Dr. Johnson in the emergency room and Dr. DeBeltz in surgery, to Dr. [Jamie] Roed and Dr. Mann in family medicine and Dr. Walsh at Altru Cancer Center – has been so pleasant and accommodating,” said Karen. “The people truly make a difference in the care he receives. I’m just in love with Dr. DeBeltz and all of Bill’s care team because he’s still here and still alive.”

Have you “fallen in love” with one of your physicians because of the medical care they provided? Recognize that physician in a comment.

One thought on “The Importance of Care at Home

  1. I would have to agree with Karen. If you can say you’re “in love” with a doctor you’ve had, it would be Dr. DeBeltz. He is both an amazing surgeon and person. He shows he cares and always takes time with you to find out where you are at with what you are experiencing and what you would like to see happen. He’s also willing to share his experiences when it relates to what you are going through. My husband and I have both had Dr. DeBeltz as our surgeon at different times and we both think very, very highly of him.

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