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A family’s worst day is made a little better, thanks to “an angel of care”

When a beloved 82-year-old man fell and broke his leg, the race was on to get him help — and make sure his wife of 63 years could be with him. That’s where ATRMC nurse Kim Jaeger came in.

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For those with an elderly loved one facing a health crisis in this pandemic, the distance between distress and despair can be short.

That was certainly true for “Mary” (names have been changed for privacy) when her 82-year-old father-in-law fell and broke his leg this past August. It was the third injury fall in eight months, a period that saw transfers to an out-of-town hospital, a long stay in a rehab facility and weeks apart from family and his wife of 63 years.

It’s times like these when a nurse who takes the time to pick up the pieces— in this case, literally — for a stressed and scattered family can seem like an angel in scrubs. At Asante Three Rivers, that nurse was Kim Jaeger.

“Charles” was brought to the ED after falling and fracturing the fibula and tibia in his left leg. His wife, “Grace,” accompanied him into ATRMC’s Emergency Department while Mary waited outside for news about whether her father-in-law would be admitted to hospital or transferred to PeaceHealth Sacred Heart Medical Center in Springfield, where he had been sent for surgery previously due to potential heart complications.

Grace couldn’t hear well or use Charles’ phone to call Mary with news, so during the five-hour wait, Kim called Mary from Charles’ phone to give her updates: Charles was going in for an X-ray. The X-ray results were back. Charles would need to be transferred up north for surgery.

The thought of Charles and Grace being apart for another long stretch of time was unacceptable, so Kim suggested calling the hospital in Springfield to see if Grace could be with him there. (She could.) As darkness fell, Kim called the ambulance company to arrange for Charles and Grace to ride together. The ambulance would be there in 30 minutes. Mary drove Grace the seven miles to the couple’s home in Murphy to start packing.

Kim Jaeger

“I had to throw a bag together, get her meds, get chargers for Dad’s phone and make sure she had her iPad because that would be her only link to us in Grants Pass,” Mary recalled.

As she was packing, Kim called. The ambulance was on its way to ATRMC, but it wouldn’t wait for Grace.

“I grabbed my mom and we raced into town,” Mary said. “We got to the emergency entrance and asked the screener to please take my mom to Dad’s room to meet the ambulance crew.”

When Mary hoisted the bag from the car, she was fighting back tears. Grace is 4 feet, 8 inches tall and weighs 100 pounds. It would be too heavy for her to carry.

Kim called to say that the EMTs were wheeling Charles to the ambulance. Grace was still in the ED lobby. It was 9 p.m. and the elderly woman hadn’t eaten all day.

“Kim came running out, scooped Mom up and took her back,” Mary said. “I was quite the mess, needless to say. Kim reassured me they would be OK and taken good care of.”

Mary didn’t know it at the time, but the bag she’d packed burst, spilling Grace’s belongings onto the floor. Kim led Grace to the ambulance, then went back into the hospital, gathered the contents from the floor and put them in a sturdy hospital bag. In the bag she placed a sandwich, applesauce, juice and Sierra Mist in case Grace got carsick on the ride.

“Because of Kim’s patient dedication and compassion for people, my parents got to PeaceHealth together,” Mary wrote when nominating Kim for the DAISY Award for Extraordinary Nurses. “My father was able to have a peace of mind his wife and lifelong partner was with him safe. He did not have to worry about her nor did he have to go through surgery alone. The kindness and care Kim showed went way above and beyond.

“Thank you, Kim Jaeger, for being the angel of care my dear parents needed.”

Patients and others may nominate nurses for a DAISY Award for Extraordinary Nurses at Asante Rogue Regional or Asante Three Rivers, based on factors including care of and compassion for patients and their loved ones. DAISY is an international program that rewards and celebrates the clinical skills and the compassionate care given by nurses every day.

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