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Helen & Harley

Many people know Helen Seirp for her remarkable service to the community through her various philanthropic posts including President of the Good Samaritan Foundation Board and her long tenure at Old National Bank. Although she has served on the Foundation Board as an active and inspired member since 2006, it wasn’t until 2010 that the patient and family experience truly came to light for her in a personal way.

“In November of that year, my husband Harley came to Good Samaritan Hospital for a knee replacement and everything went well. The following day, he started having chest pain. He was taken immediately to the Cath lab and a blockage was identified. Within a week of the knee surgery, he had to have seven bypasses.” This was a truly astonishing turn of events for Helen, as she had been actively giving tours of the recently updated intermediate and critical care areas of the hospital to friends of the Good Samaritan Foundation.

After the bypass surgery, things seemed to be going well. On November 29th, 2010, Helen, who had virtually converted a corner of the critical care waiting room into a living space, decided to return home at the insistence of the nursing staff for a night of rest. During that night, Harley had an arterial bleed, a phenomenon the doctor had not witnessed before, which required emergency surgery. “Currently, the long trip to cardiac surgery from critical care is very challenging with portable ventilators and other lifesaving equipment, and the need for many nurses and staff trying diligently to maneuver onto an elevator. This will change with the new GibaultMemorial tower. However, at the time I remember a nurse asking if it was ok for me to use the public elevator. It amazed me how they were able to overcome the challenges and focus on saving a patient’s life. When they got him to surgery, the nurse informed me that his heart had stopped.”

For thirty terrifying minutes, Helen waited for news of Harley’s condition. The very experienced staff was able to save his life and as a result of much prayer and support of family and friends there was no evidence of Gifts of Time When someone clicks on this box it should link to the volunteer page neurological damage. Helen’s experience with Harley’s Good Samaritan physician was also extraordinary. “When he had the arterial bleed, I had never seen a doctor so devastated and so determined to make it work. I don’t think we would have had that level of care in any other facility.” Nonetheless, a long and tumultuous road towards recovery was ahead.

Harley was transferred to extended care facility outside of the Good Samaritan network. “That was our first experience outside of Good Samaritan and it was just devastating. Support of family and friends was limited due to the travel and inclimate weather. I felt like I was on an island” Helen says of the move. The experience quickly became traumatic, with the facility being short staffed and unable to meet patient needs. “I felt that I couldn’t leave and if I did something bad was going to happen. My comfort level with Good Samaritan far outweighed that facility. My goal was to get us back to Good Samaritan.”

Helen and Harley’s experience at a facility outside of Good Samaritan truly highlights the gift of having exceptional and world class healthcare located in Vincennes. “The nurses of Critical Care tried to make me think that life was normal in a world that wasn’t very normal at the time. They invited me to have Thanksgiving dinner with them. When Harley was transported, they even wrapped his chart in a bow to brighten our day.” Helen’s experience has strengthened her resolve to accomplish the goals set for Good Samaritan and for the Foundation through the Strategic Plan. “The Foundation supports the mission of the hospital. The mission of the hospital has tentacles that connect to every single department. We are raising money for things that the hospital cannot just write a check for. With health care reform, everything is changing. We have to keep working towards state of the art equipment and surroundings through the Beacon Project. We can’t just stand still.”

Helen adds, “I’ve also learned that you never know when it’s going to be you receiving the care and support. It gives you the passion, compassion, and empathy for those folks going through difficult times. Every patient and family story has a different ending. You just have to remember that whatever contribution you make will help someone down the road.”