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washing and shampooing person's hair

Nurse and technician provide creative hair care treatment for patient

He came to the Gundersen Health System La Crosse Hospital in late June after suffering a heart attack at home. During the emergency, he struck his head and suffered a deep laceration on the back of his scalp.

Here, Abby Durnil RN, BSN, CCRN, Critical Care, and Joseph Larkin, technician, Critical Care, found his long hair matted with dried blood that looked unsalvageable. He didn't want to lose it, telling his care providers that his hair was important to his spiritual beliefs.

"So, we formulated a plan to wash his hair in bed so that he could feel human again," Abby says.

Using an enema ring, suction and a lot of shampoo, Abby got to work. For more than an hour, she scrubbed and rinsed and combed.

"Joey joked with the patient to close his eyes and pretend he is at the spa," Abby says.

It was a transformation that restored his sense of normalcy, Joseph says.

"In this moment, this patient's care had nothing to do with medicine and everything to do with love," he says.

At Gundersen, the big things matter to our patients. But so do the small things – the above and beyond things.

"No one likes to be in the hospital, so anything we can do to make them feel a little more like they are home will always do wonders for them," Joseph says.

Every day, throughout the many locations that make up Gundersen Health System, staff deliver world-class care plus a little something extra – we call it Love + Medicine. If this story inspires you to share a story of your own go to

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