“Guttenberg,” Cathy said without hesitation to the paramedics. It was an easy decision. Her doctors were there, and she was already familiar with the quality care she would receive there.
It was a very rainy morning on April 22, 2022, when Cathy Wiskus stopped on the way to work for gas in New Vienna. She was walking to the entrance of the store to pay when an SUV hit her on the right side of her body. She recalled being up in the air for a bit before landing on her left side, and noticing that her leg had flopped over. She couldn’t move it. Several people came to attend to her needs, cover her with a coat and call 911. The ambulance quickly arrived, and she was on her way to her requested hospital, Guttenberg Municipal Hospital.
The accident happened near the end of COVID, when getting a hospital to take on new patients was very difficult. Cathy stayed in the ER at GMHC for most of the day as staff made her as comfortable as possible with a broken femur until they could get her transferred. Finally, she was accepted at the University of Iowa and was transferred there promptly.
Surgery was postponed for four days because the break in her femur was at a difficult angle. The surgeon decided to put in a plate and two screws instead of a rod. Soon after the surgery at UI, physical therapy was started so Cathy could keep active, but not a lot could be done yet with the injured leg.
Shortly after the surgery, she was given the good news that she could return to GMHC, but after testing positive for COVID, the trip would have to wait. What might have been a shorter stay at the U of I turned into a much longer one. Visitors were limited to one per day at that time, so her husband and son had to decide who could see her, and with limited visitors, it was a long and tough stay for Cathy. Her friends helped lift her spirits with frequent calls to check on her progress.
After returning to GMHC as an inpatient for skilled care and seeing her primary care provider, Dr. McCaw, Cathy told him how much she missed the special care that GMHC delivers. “I don’t know where I would be if I couldn’t have received that care here, close to home, from people I know,” she explained, “It was hard being in a big hospital away from family during that time.” He answered Cathy with, “Sometimes a big hospital can do what a little hospital can’t, and other times a little hospital can do what a big hospital can’t.”
On Mother’s Day, Cathy was still in quarantine, and was worried what kind of day she would have. The nurses were still able to make it a special Mother’s Day for her. “And Lynn, the social worker called me every day in my room to see how I was doing. She couldn’t always come in because of visiting restrictions, but she at least always called.” Cathy added.
Physical Therapy was started when Cathy was in skilled care on the patient care unit, and the realization that it would be a long road to walking again sometimes got her down. But the therapists knew how to keep the mood light while still requiring the needed work of rehabilitation. One day when she looked out the window and saw someone walking across the parking lot, Cathy was especially emotional because at the time, that seemed so out of reach for her. Amber, her Physical Therapist Assistant for the day, reminded her that she would get there one day, too, but she would have to go through the small steps to reach that goal. She told Cathy, “Right now, this is part of your journey, and some day you will be able to reflect on it with more understanding.”
A while later, while working with Physical Therapy Assistant, Sydney, Cathy was asked to walk through the parallel bars without holding them, and when she reached the end, Sydney said, “Keep going and walk alone!” Cathy commented, “She gave me confidence and knew how to make me feel good. Really, the people here have hearts of gold.”
Released from skilled care, Cathy returned to her home in Colesburg in June. Occupational Therapist, Karla, and Amber, PT Assistant, went along to make the home as accessible and safe as they could for Cathy. The ramp was a little hard to navigate with her walker, so a friend lent them a wheelchair so she could be at home to recover.
Sometimes, doing her therapy at home was difficult, just like it could be when she was working with the Physical Therapists, but Cathy’s husband helped her stay motivated so she could reach her goals. During this period of rehab, she had one long-distance visit via the computer with her surgeon in Iowa City. In December, she had an in-person visit with him and he said that she wouldn’t need to come back. He was pleasantly surprised at how well and completely the bone had healed.
Cathy has returned to work and other normal activities with only a lifting pound restriction. She tells others about the care she receives at GMHC, adding, “Everyone knows how I feel about GMHC, because I am always talking about it, and recommending it to others. GMHC is my go-to place for local healthcare!”