Last spring, Dale Herspring was constantly tripping over his feet while walking. In a six-week period, he had two surgeries to fuse bones together in order to provide more support, but these did not help. A third surgery was performed three months later which added metal plates, but it led to an infection in his left leg that resulted in an amputation below the knee and weeks of antibiotic therapy.
While many amputees experience loss, confusion and depression following the loss of a limb, associates serving in Ascension Via Christi Manhattan’s Express Unit helped Dale find the courage and strength he needed to persevere.
“My new connections with the fantastic staff helped give me the backbone I needed to get through this,” says Dale, whose leg was amputated to prevent the spread of infection elsewhere in his body.
Dale came to the Express Unit twice a day, five days a week for six weeks.
“I have been around the block several times in my 78 years, including 33 in the Navy,” says Dale. “Never have I seen a group of professionals so helpful, happy and friendly. I asked for special assistance and it was always provided.”
As Dale became familiar with the staff, he noticed the care he observed one common trait: compassion. “The nurses were sweet and fantastic, but tough enough to help you when you’re feeling sorry for yourself.”
Not every day was easy and some came with its own challenges. “When I would come back having a bad day, seeing no improvement or unable to work with my favorite nurses, I quickly learned to appreciate all the different nurses’ talents,” says Dale.
Even when he wasn’t in the best mood, Dale was surprised by how the nurses continued to encourage him. “The appointments are what you make them. If you are having a bad day, you can make the call to make it difficult or suck it up and let them help you. They’re trained to deal with every type of patient and they do it well.”
One of the most important things to Dale was staff realized his time and efforts were precious. “They never told me to do anything unnecessary. I appreciated their efficiency and honesty.”
“I thought 33 years in the Navy made me tough, but this was tougher,” says Dale. “The Express Unit is lucky to have a group like this, especially Lori, who seems to be one of the group leaders.”
Lori Neumayer, RN, who has spent four of her 11 years with Ascension Via Christi in the Express Unit, knows that the patients are going through a lot. Some like Dale, need many rounds of antibiotics’ others are dealing with cancer and cardiac issues. “We see people who need treatments of every kind, sometimes more than once a week. It is important to make them feel comfortable with warm coffee, smiles and conversation.”
Since Lori saw Dale twice a day for six weeks, the two became close over the familiar routine. “I always had a cup of coffee ready for Dale at 8 a.m., just how he liked it.”
“You always get a little attached no matter what, and I’m a true believer in the trust component of care. It is something I truly love to do and I think it shows in how I care for others.”
With Dale’s interesting past serving in the Navy, Lori said she couldn’t help but be intrigued what his life holds. “You have no idea what people like Dale have done in their life or what they’ve been through,” says Lori. “Older patients are sometimes lonely, so it doesn’t hurt to take 10 minutes of my day to learn about someone.”
For Dale, the little things made all the difference over the course of his treatment. “Throughout this, my wife was my rock, but it was special having another rock who understands the care required to help me.”