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Carrie and John Benton 
by Adrienne Foley

Carrie Benton had always been blessed with good health. At 48, she had never had surgery, never needed hospital care -- that is, until last December, when stomach distress sent her to the emergency room at Maple Grove Hospital.

Imagine her and husband John’s surprise – and shock – to learn that Carrie needed to be admitted right away and eventually undergo emergency surgery for diverticulitis, a common digestive disease particularly found in the large intestine.

Carrie and John credit Maple Grove Hospital not only with saving Carrie’s life – but also changing both their lives forever.

“We came to Maple Grove Hospital because it’s close to our house, and because it’s affiliated with Fairview, where John works,” says Carrie. “After running some blood tests and scans in the emergency department, they told me something in my abdomen had perforated, which is why I was admitted. The affected section of intestine ruptured later that night which prompted emergency surgery.”

Carrie underwent a surgical bowel resection with temporary colostomy, in order to remove the ruptured portion of her bowel and to remove tissue diseased with diverticulitis. A second surgery known as a “take down” surgery would be required down the road, in order to remove or “take down” the colostomy.

“I was just as scared as she was,” says John, who was more concerned about Carrie’s emotional health following such a complex surgery.

“This was major surgery and having not been in the hospital before, it was pretty traumatic for me,” says Carrie. “I worried about a lot of things, primarily modesty, and the fear of being ill. Those things converged into great fear and anxiety for both of us.”

As she was wheeled into her room on the critical care unit, Carrie was met by a cheerful and friendly Mary Quigley, RN, one of the nurses assigned to her room for the majority of the next eight days.

“Mary’s demeanor instilled in me a confidence that I was being well cared for,” says Carrie. “She was efficient and knowledgeable, but just as important, she was kind and compassionate. She tended to me as a person as well as a patient.”

Having a colostomy – even a temporary one – brought with it its own level of uncertainty and anxiety, which Carrie says the nursing staff helped alleviate.

“When I was anxious and self conscious, they didn’t minimize my concern, but took time to talk with me and reassure me,” says Carrie. “Their gentle encouragement gave me confidence that it was time for me to be independent again.”

One evening in particular stands out in her mind. It had been several days since Carrie had been able to have a real shower and she was able to stand and walk a bit at this point. Carrie’s nurse Mary indicated that it was time for Carrie to attempt this on her own.

“Of course the modesty issue took hold along with fear of trying something new with all of the sutures, drains and tubes that were now part of me,” she says. “Mary took time to tell me how we would make this happen. She helped me prepare, got me situated in the shower, and stepped out of the bathroom to give me privacy. I knew she was just steps away if I needed her. After the shower, I was able to dress myself in my own new pajamas.”

When Carrie emerged from the bathroom, she was welcomed by fresh sheets, dimmed lights and an overwhelming sense of comfort.

“I felt like I was in a spa,” she says. “Mary had taken the extra time to tend to my comfort. John and I were overcome with emotion at this incredible gesture of kindness and support.”

Four months after her first surgery, when Carrie and John returned to Maple Grove Hospital for Carrie’s second, planned surgery to reverse her colostomy, they were thrilled to see several of her original nurses again.

“Along with Mary, a host of other nurses and personnel were part of my health care team,” says Carrie. “Each was knowledgeable and compassionate. I couldn’t help but think that with so many different people and personalities, it was amazing that their goal of providing excellent care was so apparent even with their individual approaches.”

Adds John: “Maple Grove Hospital’s vision of delivering healthcare together, as it ought to be, is exemplified in the kind of care we got here. It was really a team effort from top to bottom. They took so much care and interest in Carrie’s personal health and situation. They included family members in their care as well; I received support and encouragement along with Carrie. Maple Grove Hospital truly lives its vision.”