Group effort grants a veteran his final wish
From Carol Pilot, Iron Mountain:
This was written by a special friend of mine, Peggy Merrill. I thank her for putting the story into words —
On March 2, Bruce Martin was admitted to St. Mary’s Hospital in Green Bay. March 7, the family received news from his caregivers that there was nothing else they could do for him, as his heart was failing. It was time for him to enter into hospice care.
As tough as it is to receive this kind of news, Bruce Martin’s only request was to be admitted to the Oscar G. Johnson Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Iron Mountain, the city where he has been a resident for the past 38 years. In 1972, he moved his family to the U.P. from Detroit to serve the local community as a police officer. His daughter, Carol, is a nurse, working at the VA center. Back in 2013, when he needed medical care, he was denied coverage through the VA due to his income level, so he was concerned he would again be denied this last request.
Carol and her husband have a small farming operation and because they raise cattle, she became acquainted with current state Sen. Ed McBroom’s father when he helped through a situation with a sick member of their herd. Wanting to do what she could to help ease her dad’s mind, she reached out to the elder Mr. McBroom.
Within 15 minutes, Carol found herself telling the story to Senator McBroom. He assured her that someone would be in touch as soon as possible, and in less than an hour she was explaining the situation to the senator’s assistant. Next came a call in another hour, this time from U.S. Rep. Jack Bergman’s office, whose assistant took down the details as well. Within another hour, Carol was informed that the situation was being attended to, and she continued to receive several updates via text messages over the rest of the weekend.
Monday morning, Congressman Bergman’s assistant called to tell Carol they would be able to grant her dying father’s last request and admit him to the VA medical center in Iron Mountain through a “catastrophic” designation, explaining that ANY veteran can fall into this category, regardless of his or her financial situation. There was just a bit of paperwork to do and an enrollment specialist was able to assist them through this entire process.
When all of the phone calls and paperwork had been completed, transportation arrangements were made to bring Mr. Martin to the VAMC that Monday evening. Although he was not able to be admitted into the actual hospice area due to an influenza A patient, he was graced with a view of the rather large American flag flying outside the window of his room on 4 East.
Carol’s dad had not slept well for months, and the very compassionate VA nurse was able to give him something to help. After sitting by his side for several hours, when Carol left him at 11 p.m. he was sleeping soundly. Little did she know this was the last day she would hear him talk to her, for the next morning a phone call came urging the family to come, that Bruce had become unresponsive overnight.
On their way to the hospital, Carol received a request for an update from Congressman Bergman’s office, and the assistant asked if he could stop by the hospital to meet the family. Carol’s mom was able to thank him personally for all of their effort to get Bruce into the VA center.
That night, Carol was sitting with her husband at her dad’s bedside when another very compassionate VA nurse came in to share her experience with Bruce during the admission process. Bruce had shared his full life story with her, detailing what he had done since his honorable discharge after four years in the Army. Saying he had very kind eyes, the nurse felt like Bruce wanted the VA to know what he had done with his life after the Army.
Bruce passed away that night, with his daughter holding his hand, her head on his chest. Carol and her family are so grateful to everyone who had a hand in helping Bruce fulfill his last wish — even the orderly who held his hand after he had passed, saying, “Thank you for your service, Bruce! See you on the other side.”
Pleased to have DCHS here in the community
From Les Brown, Norway:
A blood disorder requires me to go to Dickinson County Healthcare System for a weekly blood draw and treatment and various doctor’s appointments. I also go monthly to the respiratory department at DCHS for inhalation treatments.
I would like to compliment our hospital for the preparedness they implemented regarding the COVID-19 crisis. Starting in early March, they already were testing using precautions to protect staff and patients. They have gone to great lengths with patients like myself who are immunocompromised to ensure that we are protected.
My hope is for our community to realize what a valuable asset we have in our local hospital. My wife, Carolyn, and I are so grateful to the entire dedicated DCHS staff. Their unwavering commitment to the welfare of our community is professional, sincere and courageous.