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Outstanding experience prompts patient to transfer care

Tim McCoy, Riverwood Healthcare patient

Over the Memorial Day weekend, Tim McCoy was enjoying a short vacation stay at Big Sandy Lodge with his family in the McGregor area when a life-threatening health emergency arose. About 3:00 a.m. on May 26 he became extremely short of breath and his son called 911.

“I had a suffocating feeling and saw my fingertips turning blue,” McCoy explains.  “As a former pilot, I knew I could die within a few minutes without fast medical help. Then a woman from the ambulance crew arrived and administered oxygen so I could breathe again. I believe her quick, professional work saved my life.”

Gina Staska, an emergency medical tech (EMT) with McGregor Area Ambulance for seven years, was able to respond so quickly as she lives just down the road from Big Sandy Lodge.  Alerted to the 911 call, she drove to the scene, arriving about 10 minutes before the ambulance coming from McGregor 14 miles away.

“Living in a rural area, a lot of times it’s faster for an EMT to go directly to the scene rather than driving into town and we all carry a kit that’s equipped with oxygen, masks and other airway control items,” Staska explains. “Whenever I go on an ambulance call, I’m always impressed with the awesome doctors and nurses who work in the area’s emergency rooms. We are especially blessed with the ER team at Riverwood, led by Dr. Jim Harris who is the medical director for our McGregor Area Ambulance and offers valuable training sessions for our crew.”

When stabilized, McCoy was transported to Riverwood Healthcare Center via ambulance, where he was treated in the emergency room and admitted to the hospital, where he was treated for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease—a potential cause of his breathing difficulties.

McCoy adds: “Every caregiver at Riverwood made me feel special instead of just a number. I don’t think the president of the United States could have received better care at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center than I did at Riverwood. Your staff is doing the right things—taking care of patients the old fashioned way with lots of TLC.”

McCoy said he appreciated the strong, compassionate style of Dr. Jessica Hodson, the Riverwood family physician who cared for him during his 2-day hospital stay. In fact, his outstanding patient care experience prompted him to make a decision to switch his primary care to Dr. Hodson at Riverwood.

“I am very happy that Tim McCoy was so pleased with his care,” Hodson says. “I try to make sure every patient feels well taken care of.”

Even though it means driving 75 miles from his home in East Bethel to Aitkin, McCoy is willing to travel this distance because the 5-star personalized care at Riverwood meant the world to him. One example of caring that went above and beyond during his hospital stay was when his nurse was able to get him a dish of chocolate ice cream at 11:00 p.m.

“I believe in karma—what you give comes back to you,” McCoy says. “I like to help others and I’ve paid for groceries for people in financial need over the years. I think it was my turn to get help when I desperately needed it. I thank God I was surrounded by a wonderful group of people who took such good care of me.”