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Published on November 17, 2017

Chelsea Amundson

Living proof Children's Miracle Network Hospitals® make the difference

After 26 years, Monica Oliver still gets choked up when she describes the thin line between life and death for her first-born.

Today, her daughter, Chelsea Amundson, is a thriving young woman enjoying her life and career in billing at Gundersen Health System. Chelsea likes to ensure that insurance companies pay what they should and patients pay only what they must.

"I love it," Chelsea says. "I like giving money back whenever we can."

Chelsea Amundson

Chelsea Amundson shown with her father's wedding ring around her arm. Photo courtesy of Chelsea's mother.

Giving back is something Chelsea knows all about and, in particular, giving back to Children's Miracle Network Hospitals® (CMN Hospitals). This service of Gundersen Medical Foundation has raised millions of dollars through its many years of giving to local communities and enriching every life they touch.

Chelsea's life was first touched by CMN Hospitals 26 years ago: Chelsea was born July 2, 1991, at Gundersen's La Crosse Hospital—but she wasn't supposed to be born until Oct. 10. Chelsea came into this world at just over a pound and a half.

"From the beginning of my pregnancy, it was touch and go," Monica says.

Chelsea's father, Darren Amundson, calls the experience of his daughter's birth and struggle surreal: His wedding ring fit around her bicep.

"In a stressful situation like this you don't sleep and you don't eat," says Darren. "The nurses in the NICU and CMN Hospitals are very much attuned to that. You have to eat. You have to take care of yourself so that you can take care of your child. I learned that they are there for you—for all of you. For the whole family."

Because of special equipment made possible by funding from CMN Hospitals, Chelsea is now on the job helping others as much as she can.

Dr. Thompson explains jet ventilator

In 1991, Jeff Thompson, MD, was a newborn/ pediatric intensive care physician at tiny Chelsea Amundson's side. Now CEO emeritus, he explains that the jet ventilator made possible by CMN Hospitals let Chelsea's care team give her tiny breaths of air, over 100 times a minute, and gently circulate those small breaths. A standard ventilator's pressure would be too much for Chelsea's tiny lungs to bear.

To this day Dr. Thompson credits lead respiratory therapist (retired) Don Schroeder and a great nursing staff as instrumental in Chelsea's successful therapy. He also gives tribute to CMN Hospitals: "Strong staff and support from CMN Hospitals allows us to deliver on our promise to give patients as great of care as they can get, anywhere."

Fate would also appear to have put her and her family in a place where giving back to CMN Hospitals is 'par for the course'—when Monica began working for Crescent Printing Co. (CPC) in the early 1990s, she immediately was drawn to the company's charitable golf outing. "I was there from its second year, when it made $500, to this year, when we raised $15,000 for CMN Hospitals in a single day," says Monica, who is one of the outing's organizers. "Our customers and the people who work for CPC truly believe in CMN Hospitals and, for me, it's near and dear to my heart. "

Chelsea helps her mother and CPC at the event most every year.

"Because we all need help at some time," Chelsea explains. "If you can, lend a helping hand. Not only does it make a difference to the people you are helping, but it can make you feel better, too—knowing that you're making a difference in someone's life, locally."