'Top Notch' ER care helps West Union woman
Kathy Brubaker loves spending time with her two granddaughters. "They are the excitement in my life," she says, smiling. This includes visiting grandma's house. During her vacation in March 2019, Kathy and her oldest granddaughter, Taya (3), were enjoying a sleepover when Kathy's health took a turn for the worse.
"I woke up at four in the morning, and I thought, something's wrong here,'" Kathy, a registered nurse, remembers. "When I threw up blood in the bathroom a bit later, I knew I had internal bleeding. I called my son and told him he needed to stay with Taya so I could go to the emergency room."
Once Taya was safe with her dad, Kathy drove the short distance from her home in West Union to Gundersen Palmer Lutheran Hospital. Gundersen Palmer Emergency Department cares 24/7 for patients of all ages. Specially-trained medical providers and nurses are prepared to handle emergencies of all sorts. David White, DO, and nurse practitioner Chad Rasmussen cared for Kathy when she arrived.
"They did an exam, including a blood draw and an IV, and everything looked good," Kathy says.
"But I started to feel really sweaty and like I was going to pass out." Chad and Dr. White checked Kathy's blood pressure again, and it had dropped rapidly. They knew she needed more specialized care. Gundersen Palmer Lutheran Hospital and Clinics quickly cared for Kathy Brubaker to get her back to snuggles with her granddaughters.
"I didn't quite grasp how my condition was changing," Kathy recalls. "When they said they were going to transfer me, I had an idea of what would happen. But when Chad said they were calling the helicopter, I thought," Wow. This is more serious that I thought.'" GundersenAIR, based in Decorah, arrived at Gundersen Palmer to bring Kathy to Gundersen Health System's La Crosse Hospital.
"From the time I first arrived at the Hospital to the time I was in the helicopter was only about two hours. The entire Palmer team worked so quickly and kindly," Kathy says. "They took what was going on seriously, but they were comforting and made sure I was comfortable."
The GundersenAIR crew showed Kathy the same compassion during the flight to La Crosse. "I was a little nervous getting into the helicopter because I thought I would panic in the small cabin," Kathy said. "The crew held my hand the whole way to La Crosse. They were top notch."
Once in La Crosse, the care team found Kathy had a gastrointestinal bleed, something she had experienced in the past. After Kathy was
discharged, she saw her provider in West Union for follow-up appointments.
"As it turns out, I was not in a life or death situation, and I'm thankful for that," Kathy shares. "It was reassuring to know Gundersen Palmer staff planned for worst-case and kept my needs at the center of their work. It's critical to have the emergency room in West Union."
"The care I received was great, from the ER staff, to the team with GundersenAIR, to the team in La Crosse," Kathy shares. The rapid care Kathy received allowed her to get back to life quickly.
"I recovered and I didn't have to take any additional time off work. Plus, I still got to enjoy a few days of vacation," she says with a laugh. And more time with the exciting part of her life, her granddaughters.
"The entire Palmer team worked so quickly and kindly," Kathy says. "They took what was going on seriously, but they were comforting and made sure I was comfortable."