Richard N.

Richard N.

On January 7th, Richard Nystrom underwent open heart surgery at Yakima Regional Medical Center. Unfortunately, he suffered post-operative complications that effected his heart, kidneys, lungs, and digestive system. In the weeks that followed, Richard’s condition spiraled downward. Perilously ill with multi-system failure, Richard was transferred to Vibra Specialty Hospital in Portland due to Vibra’s well-earned reputation for treating complex medical problems.

When he arrived at Vibra, Richard was met by an interdisciplinary team of clinicians including Dr. Mary Ann Arndt, one of Vibra’s nephrologists. Dr. Arndt meticulously reviewed the medications that Richard had been prescribed, and she recognized one as being particularly toxic to the kidneys. “I remember Dr. Arndt saying that the drug was poisoning my father,” recalls Valarie, Richard’s daughter. As soon as the medication in question was discontinued, Richard’s kidneys began to recover. The improvement was dramatic.

With Richard’s kidneys functioning properly, physicians at Vibra could now turn their attention to Richard’s other problems, most notably his seriously impaired digestive system. So many disorders were occurring simultaneously that some thought Richard might not survive. But through every phase of his recovery was one of Vibra’s tenured hospitalists, Dr. June Jia, who became Richard’s champion. “She was incredible,” said Valarie. “She irrigated his stomach, gave him blood transfusions, managed his abdominal wound, and so much more, all while keeping our family informed every step of the way.”

Richard remembers little of this time, suffering from a brain dysfunction syndrome caused by the failure of his body’s other organs. “But I remember my family visiting me,” said Richard. “My granddaughter, Valarie-Jean, set framed pictures of my whole family along the window sill, and those were the first things I’d see when I woke up, and the last things I’d see when I fell asleep.” Concentrating on those pictures fortified his will to persevere. “I’d better stick around,” he would remind himself. “I’ve got a lot of family all pulling for me.”

“Stick around” he did. Richard’s will to live, coupled with the steadfast attention of Vibra’s doctors, nurses, and wound specialist, finally lead to the long-awaited change in the trajectory of his health. Richard’s belowaverage lab values began to rise, and the above-average lab values began to fall. Richard was getting better.

Working collaboratively with the clinicians, Vibra’s team of physical therapists targeted their efforts on increasing Richard’s ability to sit, stand, and walk independently, while the occupational therapists focused on self-care tasks, improving motor skills, and increasing activity tolerance and safety. Though Richard tired easily, he worked hard to achieve the independence he needed to safely leave the hospital. Two months after he arrived, Richard was ready to bid a warmhearted farewell to Vibra’s many caregivers who helped him progress along the continuum of care.

Today, temporarily living in Portland near Valarie, Richard is happy to be alive. His experience has inspired him to write a book. “I really believe Vibra saved my life,” says Richard. Valarie echoes that sentiment, saying expressively, “I want everyone at Vibra to know how grateful I am that you saved my dad.”