ThedaStar Connects Patients with the Care They Need
Anna Horejs’ life changed forever last Nov. 15 on U.S. 10 in Waupaca County. Horejs, then a senior at Wauwatosa East High School, was driving her family’s van back after a visit at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point where she planned to attend college and study computer science and business this coming fall. Her vehicle, however, was hit head-on at highway speed by a driver going the wrong way on U.S. 10, leaving her with multiple serious injuries. The other driver, 86-year-old Du Wayne Dobratz of Manawa, died at the scene.
When first responders arrived, it took them 45 minutes to pry Horejs from the vehicle. They also called ThedaStar to transport her to ThedaCare Regional Medical Center-Neenah, the region’s only Level II Trauma Center. Once in Neenah, she underwent multiple surgeries. She spent a week in the hospital’s intensive care unit before moving to a surgical recovery unit for another month.
In Waupaca County, ThedaStar not only transports critical patients to hospitals in the Fox Cities, it also responds to crashes, much like Horejs’. On average, the air medical transport makes two flights a day throughout its coverage area.
During the Nov. 15 crash, the steering wheel drove through Horejs’ midsection, causing multiple injuries, including a ruptured diaphragm, a collapsed lung, broken pelvis, sacrum, wrist and arm. Her left leg was also crushed when the vehicle’s dashboard caved in. Horejs suffered extreme nerve damage in the leg. The doctors originally told her family it could take up to two years before Horejs would be able to walk unassisted again.
While recovering in Neenah, Horejs told ThedaStar flight nurse Jeff Grimm that she wanted to recover in time to walk across the stage at her graduation to receive her diploma. “It felt amazing to walk across that stage. I set my mind to it that I was going to do it and then I accomplished it,” Horejs said. “It took a lot of work to get there.”
She also surprised her family by making a short speech thanking the school and community for their support during her recovery. “Fundraisers were held and everyone was asking how they could help,” Horejs said.
Since Horejs had taken multiple Advanced Placement classes, she only needed to earn 1.5 credits to graduate. She was able to earn them while recovering at home so she could graduate with her class.
“Everyone was great in Neenah and so friendly. I was really touched how the flight nurses on ThedaStar kept coming by to see how I was doing,” Horejs said. “Jeff (Grimm) still keeps in touch, asking how I am doing.”
Horejs’ father, Bill, also praised ThedaStar’s staff and the hospital. “We couldn’t have done it without all of your help. The care you provided for Anna during this difficult time made a huge difference in her physical, emotional and mental recovery. You got her off on the right foot — so to speak — by giving her the love and nurturing she needed along with a little push when it was needed,” he said.
This fall, Horejs plans to attend UW-Stevens Point. She may still need a single crutch or cane since she is still recovering from Achilles lengthening procedure in late June to help improve her walking. “We’ve talked already with the university and I’ve asked for handicap-accessible room so there is room for some of the extra medical equipment I may need to take along,” she said. “They’ve been very responsive. I was fortunate to receive the necessary care I needed so quickly.”
For more than 100 years, ThedaCare™ has been committed to finding a better way to deliver serious and complex healthcare to patients throughout Northeast Wisconsin. The organization serves over 200,000 patients annually and employs more than 7,000 healthcare professionals throughout the region. ThedaCare has seven hospitals located in Appleton, Neenah, Berlin, Waupaca, Shawano, New London and Wild Rose as well as 34 clinics in nine counties. ThedaCare is the first in Wisconsin to be a Mayo Clinic Care Network Member, giving our specialists the ability to consult with Mayo Clinic experts on a patient’s care. ThedaCare is a non-profit healthcare organization with a level II trauma center, comprehensive cancer treatment, stroke and cardiac programs as well as a foundation dedicated to community service. The ThedaCare Regional Cancer Center in Appleton opened in February. For more information, visit www.thedacare.org or follow ThedaCare on Facebook and Twitter.