Dwight H.

Good Samaritan Hospital has saved the life of retired State Trooper Dwight H. once – and maybe more than once.

Thirteen years ago, Dwight was sitting in his cruiser beside U.S. 50 filling out paperwork during a routine traffic stop. Suddenly, a truck slammed into him from behind, pinning him in the middle of what he calls a “Ford sandwich.” Dwight suffered severe head trauma and was rushed to Good Samaritan Hospital for life-saving surgery and months of rehab.

Dwight recovered, and he and his wife, Nancy, continued their lives, helping out people in their community, both professionally (Nancy also was a police officer) and by volunteering their time in their hometown of Oaktown, Ind. Married 27 years, Dwight and Nancy were always so busy, working, raising a family and helping others that sometimes they forgot about their own needs. “You start having a family and getting busier and stop thinking about things like health,” Nancy said.

While attending a weekly dinner at the Oaktown Community Center, Dwight and Nancy noticed a Good Samaritan Hospital Community Health booth providing free blood pressure checks. They both decided to take advantage of the opportunity. The nurse noted that Dwight’s blood pressure was elevated and expressed some concern. “I was shocked when I heard that my blood pressure was that high,” Dwight said. “It was a hot day and I had just got done working. I was still in my uniform, and those things can get pretty warm so I thought that was why my blood pressure was high. The nurse told me to relax and she would check it again later that evening.”

Dwight cooled down and later that evening had his blood pressure checked again. Although it had decreased a little, the reading was still higher than normal. “She recommended that Dwight see his doctor as soon as possible,” Nancy said. “I checked his blood pressure that night and told him if it was still high in the morning, he was going to the doctor whether he liked it or not.”

It was still high the next day, and Dwight called in sick and went to see his physician, Dr. Johnny Bear, who was concerned and prescribed two medications. Uncontrolled high blood pressure can lead to life-threatening health consequences. “If high blood pressure is left untreated, damage to the heart and coronary arteries, stroke, kidney damage and vision loss can occur,” explained Julie Thomas, director of Dayson Heart Center.

A few years later, Dwight and Nancy were eating breakfast at Old Oaken Day when they noticed another Good Samaritan Community Health booth providing free services. This time, screenings were available for lipid profile, blood glucose, Glomerular Filtration Rate/creatinine (kidney function) and Prostate Specific Antigen for men. Remembering the important heads-up they received a few years back, they decided to participate.

This time, they had to wait a few days for their results. Once again, Nancy’s lab results came back normal, but Dwight’s showed an extremely high blood glucose level, indicating possible diabetes, another important risk factor because if left uncontrolled, it can lead to heart and kidney disease, nerve and vision damage and even stroke.

Since diabetes runs in Dwight’s family (his father passed away from diabetes at the age of 65), the couple understood the severity of his reading. Further consultation with Dr. Bear confirmed that Dwight was diabetic.

They are huge supporters of preventive care and Good Samaritan Hospital’s efforts to reaching the rural population. “I was raised on the idea that you don’t need to go to the doctor unless you are sick. If there is not a bone sticking through your leg, you just walk it off,” laughed Dwight. “Now, after everything that has happened over the last couple of years, we push others to take advantage of what is available out there in the community. I call people up and say, ‘Hey buddy, this is free! You’re not working, so go up there and get checked out!’”

Dr. Bear is a huge supporter, too. “Good Samaritan Hospital’s Community Health Program is a valuable and essential aspect of the Good Samaritan Hospital Health Care System,” he said. “Dwight came to my office to be treated for both his high blood pressure and diabetes. I was grateful for Good Samaritan Hospital for offering these pre-screening programs because early diagnosis can lead to treatment and prevent complications.”