Breast cancer is no stranger to the women in the Coverston family. After conquering colon cancer 16 years ago and supporting both her daughters and a niece through breast cancer, Corky is now completing treatment for breast cancer herself.
“We’re 4 for 4 in the family. I’ve had cysts or lumps in the past, but they were fine. In October 2014, I found a lump and it got bigger and my lymph nodes swelled. I had a needle biopsy and it was cancer,” says Corky.
Since then she had a double mastectomy and chemotherapy at TMH, and is now wrapping up radiation therapy at St. Mary’s.
She and her husband Eddie have been overwhelmed by the support they have received not only from friends and family, but from the entire town of Craig—a community they’ve lived in most of their lives.
“Everybody in this town has been wonderful. People not only from our church but other churches are praying for us, we get hugs in the grocery store, people are doing us favors and everywhere we go in the hospital is just one big family. They are concerned about us from Margaret and Susan at the front to the nurses and doctors,” says Eddie.
“We have a good team here. The doctors and nurses all know me and all they have to do is look at me to know something is wrong,” Corky adds.
The couple is especially grateful for the exceptional care they received from Dr. Alexis Driggs, her surgical team and Marie Kettle in infusion.
“Dr. Driggs really cares. She is fantastic. She postponed her vacation for me. I had a CAT scan and something happened to my port. Dr. Driggs was getting ready to leave for Utah for Thanksgiving and a wedding but she stayed to remove the port with Dr. Womble and make sure I was okay.”
The couple has a great attitude to go along with the great support they’ve received from everyone around them.
“We can’t dwell on the past, we just have to look ahead and get back to living,” Corky concludes.
Doyle O’Neil thinks running a good hospital is similar to running a good hotel. He believes it’s all in the hospitality, and catering to the unique needs of your guests—something he understands well as the general manager of the Hampton Inn in Craig.
“Each guest comes into the hotel with a different need and we train the staff to handle each type of guest. A hospital is similar—you have to keep track of the room, keep the place clean and safe, and manage all guests,” Doyle says.
Doyle is a big fan of TMH, but he wasn’t always. He had never been to the hospital before but he’d heard some not so flattering rumors. That’s why when he started having chest pains he not only worried about his health but about the care he’d receive.
“I’m happy to say they got it right from the start and my care was totally different from the rumors,” says Doyle.
On Saturday, January 31, Doyle woke up not feeling well. He didn’t recognize the chest pain he was having as an issue with his heart. When the pain didn’t go away throughout the day he drove himself to the hospital.
He took comfort in his nurse, Sarah, who “really took charge, set the expectations, and helped me relax,” he says. He also says that James his EKG Tech, “was hilarious and didn’t let me panic.”
The ER staff moved fast and discovered that one of Doyle’s coronary arteries was 100% blocked, depriving his heart of oxygen.
“Dr. Huyn took me right back and got me stable, gave me the right medicine to break up the blockage and saved my life. He had all charts ready to go for St. Mary’s where I was quickly airlifted,” he adds.
At St. Mary’s he had a stent put in his heart and was diagnosed with A-Fib or atrial fibrillation, an irregular heartbeat that can lead to heart-related complications. He is currently receiving follow-up care from Dr. Gerald Myers, cardiologist with TMH.
He was pleased with the communication and mutual respect between the doctors at the two hospitals. St. Mary’s doctors were complimentary of Dr. Huyn’s care.
“TMH is totally different from some of the rumors I’d heard. They’ve really got their act together—the communication and care were great, and they really care about their patients.”
Having firsthand experience with the inner workings of a hospital isn’t something we all wish to have—but it’s something Ashley Moon can claim. Despite her young age, she’s had a number of surgeries. In June of 2013 she had a heartbreaking ectopic pregnancy. Dr. Ellis performed the surgery. It happened fast and Ashley relied on the reassurance from staff until her husband Doyle arrived.
“My nurse was a huge comfort to me. She was there holding my hand before they put me under and again when I woke up,” Ashley says.
Then, just four months later in October 2013, Ashley had Doyle drive her to the ER because she thought she had a bad flu. She ended up having an obstructed bowel that demanded immediate surgery and a month-long stay. No one wants to spend a month in the hospital, but Ashley says the staff treated her like family and really cared for her.
“The nurses pampered me. I remember wanting to go outside so they bundled me up and took me out. It makes it especially comforting to know the people who are taking care of you. Some of us actually became friends, and we still see each other,” she adds.
Ashley sees specialists for her condition in Grand Junction, but she goes to TMH for most of her care. She is impressed how the TMH doctors are so willing to collaborate with each other and especially praises Dr. Womble, general surgeon, for collaborating so well with her specialist in Grand Junction—and how together they do whatever is best for her.
“At TMH, the rooms are beautiful, the doctors are high quality, and the nurses do everything they can for you. I wouldn’t go anywhere else for care. The last time we had to go to the hospital my husband said, ‘Do you want me to keep driving to Grand Junction?’ I said ‘No, I want to go to TMH where the nurses and doctors know me best,” she concludes.
Ashley is attending nursing school and will graduate in May 2016. The care she received at TMH inspired her to go to school so she can give the good care she received back to others. She’ll be amazing.
The first few days of Macy’s life were scary for her family. It was Lauren and Joe’s first baby and they didn’t know what to expect. Lauren went into labor three weeks early and upon arriving at TMH was quickly rushed to the OR for a C-section. Macy was born with Down syndrome and the next day, Dr. Kristie Yarmer discovered a heart murmur. Macy was sent by Flight for Life to St. Mary’s in Grand Junction. Fast-forward a year and a healthy Macy just celebrated her first birthday.
“After we received the diagnosis of Down syndrome, Dr. Ellis was amazing, so supportive and caring. Right away he offered names of other parents in our community who had children with Down syndrome so we wouldn’t feel so alone,” Lauren said.
The cardiologist at St. Mary’s completed an echocardiogram and discovered two small holes in her tiny heart—something that can happen with Down syndrome. Luckily the holes were small enough that they didn’t require surgery. Macy was in the hospital for five days and required oxygen for three months as her heart healed.
“We were pleased to see how closely our doctors here worked with the doctors at St. Mary’s. It was like they were one big team—they communicated really well, keeping us informed every step of the way,” Joe adds.
The couple is very grateful for the personal attention and dedication from the TMH doctors and nurses. Even today, TMH Medical Clinic manager Terri Jourgensen checks in with the family weekly.
“We want to recognize certain staff. One is Terri—we call her FAT, short for ‘Fake Aunt Terri,’ because she was there for us from day one. She knew I was drowning in all the appointments so she jumped in and coordinated our appointments here and at St. Mary’s. We text and call her whenever we need guidance,” Lauren says.
Lauren also wants to give a call out to the nurses who cared for them during their hospital stay. She names Jessie Grandbouche, Aimee Haskins and Jenna Stark, all part of the team in the TMH Birthing Center. “They were all so great. Jenna’s shift ended but she stayed many more hours to see Macy off on the helicopter,” she says.
Macy is getting stronger every day. Her heart is healed. She’s done wearing her cast for her hip dysplasia, but she’ll be in a brace for a little while longer. She is sitting up, bright eyed, and ready to take on the world.
Lauren and Joe feel like TMH ambassadors, telling their friends and family to go to TMH rather than travel to other hospitals: “They make everyone feel like they are their number one priority. How do they do that? People say the grass is greener elsewhere. I say the grass is nice and green over here,” Joe concludes.
Lauren and Joe look forward to having a second baby some day. The two Moffat County teachers find amazing joy in their beautiful daughter. March 24th was Macy’s birthday, and they are excited to see what the next year will bring.
© 2013 The Memorial Hospital at Craig