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Read our recent edition of "Great Saves."
Special Publication: Denver Health Celebrates 150 Years!
Did you know that in 1976, Dr. Ben Eiseman and Dr. Ernest E. “Gene” Moore formalized the first trauma/surgery service in the Rocky Mountain Region? Read more on page 26 of this publication!
Kelli of Avon, Colorado says, "I'd like to send my highest praise for the doctors, nurses and general staff at Denver Health." Read her letter to the editor at The Vail Daily.
Here is a wonderful Great Save and an amazing story told from a father's perspective of his child's recovery from a traumatic brain injury.
In May 2009, Tred Barta, passionate outdoorsman and the host of the outdoor TV show “The Best and Worst of Tred Barta,” suffered an injury that forever changed his life.
It was an ordinary week. Barta was preparing for a black bear hunting trip in the Ketchikan. He and his wife went for a horseback ride and upon their return he began to feel a little sore. It wasn’t until the next morning, when Barta woke up with a 30 percent to 40 percent loss of movement in his left leg, that he began to worry.
Knowing he was about to embark on a hunting expedition, he decided to visit a clinic in Vail. There, they did X-rays and scans and determined he was suffering from a pinched nerve in his lower lumbar and referred him to a kinesiologist in Glenwood Springs to get a series of five cortisone shots. The shots made him feel better and he thought he was in the clear – until the next day when he woke up with 90 percent loss of movement his left leg.
Panicked, Barta began driving to the kinesilogist’s office when he began to experience excruciating pain in his bowel. Unable to drive, he turned his car sideways on I-70 until a Colorado State Trooper came to his aid.
An ambulance rushed Barta to Vail Valley Medical Center, where they began to evaluate the situation. To his horror, Barta suddenly lost sensation in both legs during the examination.
Barta was put into an ambulance and rushed to Denver Health Medical Center.
“The doctors in Vail told me the best place for me to get the expert care needed to figure out what was going on was Denver Health,” said Barta.
By the time Barta arrived in Denver he was completely numb below the waist. Mike Earnest, M.D., a retired Denver Health neurologist who happened to be helping out as an attending physician that fateful Sunday afternoon, met Barta upon his arrival at Denver Health. After numerous examinations, consultations and tests it was determined that Barta suffered a stroke in his spinal cord.
“I could be one of the luckiest men alive,” said Barta. “I had my stroke on a day when one of the best, most experienced neurologists came back to the hospital from retirement to help out.”
Miraculously, Dr. Earnest was able to quickly pinpoint the problem and reduce the spread of the paralysis, which enabled Barta to immediately begin the rehabilitation process.
Barta has since returned to his ranch in Eagle, and continues to host “The Best and Worst of Tred Barta,” which is seen by more than 41 million viewers on the Versus channel.
“Today, I am learning how to do things without the use of my legs. I am hunting, fishing, horseback riding, and still producing my TV show,” said Barta. “I am grateful that I met Dr. Earnest, and thankful to him and all the people at Denver Health who helped me in my time of need.”
Rai Henniger, senior vice president of marketing for the Triple – A Colorado Springs Sky Sox baseball team, is a well-known fan.
Popular for his theme nights like “Bark in the Park” and “Animal Snout Night,” his dance moves on the field, and his fireworks displays.
May 12, 2007, was a special event for the Sky Sox. It was Fort Carson Appreciation Night, a time for the club to honor soldiers at the nearby Colorado Springs military base. The evening featured an 18-gun cannon salute, color guards on horseback, the Wings of Blue parachute team, Army generals throwing out the ceremonial first pitch and a fireworks show put on by Henniger.
Henniger began preparing the evening’s fireworks show at 2:15 p.m., behind the left field wall. He was about 10 minutes from the final step when something went horribly wrong and one of the mortar tubes mysteriously went off. Henniger was struck in the left side of the face by a two and a half inch spherical titanium shell.
Steve DeLeon, the team’s groundskeeper, who is certified in CPR and first aid, began administering care immediately. He was soon joined by two artillery solders from Fort Carson, Christopher Smith and Michael Cordosi, who had just returned from duty in Iraq and were experienced in first aid. The soldiers used towels to help stop the bleeding, and kept Henniger talking until the ambulance arrived.
Henniger was rushed to Memorial Hospital, in Colorado Springs where a neurosurgeon, plastic surgeon, and an eye specialist gave his wife, Heather, the news that Henniger had suffered facial fractures of the nose, eye socket, upper jaw and cheekbone, and an additional fracture through the base of the skull.
He had also suffered multiple soft tissue injuries, and his left eye was so badly ruptured, it had to be removed.
“It was like this cloud just enveloped us,” Heather said. “They used terms like ‘catastrophic’ and ‘devastating,’ and said Rai’s injuries were beyond their scope here in Colorado Springs.”
Doctors told Heather the best place for Henniger would be Denver Health Medical Center.
Henniger was flown to Denver Health by helicopter. He spent three weeks in the Surgical Intensive Care Unit (SICU) in a drug-induced coma.
Chief of Surgery and Trauma Services Ernest E. “Gene” Moore, M.D., led the team of physicians who treated Henniger. The team performed several surgeries during Henniger’s stay to restore his face. Surgeons reconstructed his nose, using cartilage from his rib and ear, and used tissue expanders to expand his forehead skin and close other wounds.
“The nurses in the SICU were phenomenal,” said Heather. “They saw me when I was at my worst, and they stayed with me to make sure I was all right,” said Heather. “It is such a great team in the Denver Health SICU.”
Henninger has since returned to his home in Colorado Springs and while the reconstruction of his face is still a work in progress, he is able to find the positive. In his situation. He says the ordeal has strengthened his faith and increased his appreciation for his family. He is grateful to his doctors and nurses and the soldiers that initially saved his life on that fateful day.
For Janet Shikles, breaking her wrist and not being able to play tennis for six weeks seemed like a nightmare. Little did she know, her nightmare had just begun.
In August 2009, Shikles, a tennis enthusiast, fell on her wrist during a game, breaking it in two places. She visited an urgent care facility where doctors took X-rays and referred her to an orthopaedic specialist, telling her that she would most likely need surgery.
The orthopaedic specialist looked at the X-rays but told her she would not need surgery. He placed her wrist in a cast and told her to come back in six weeks.during the six week period, Shikles experienced a great deal of discomfort and pain, but was convinced that the discomfort was normal.
As six weeks approached, Shikles returned to get her cast removed only to find that the break had healed incorrectly, leaving her wrist worse than they were before.
“That’s when I did what I should have done in the first place,” said Shikles, who works in health care policy. She contacted Patricia A. Gabow, M.D., CEO, Denver Health Medical Center who assured her that Kagan Ozer, M.D., replantation/microsurgeon, would be able to help her.
“I was impressed from the beginning,” said Shikles. “Dr. Ozer was able to see me right away. He was amazed to see how poorly my wrist had healed and was even more disappointed that I hadn’t gotten surgery when the injury first occurred.”
Dr. Ozer wanted to operate on Shikles wrist right away and got her into the Operating Room the following day. After surgery, she was admitted to a private hospital room.
“The nurses were amazing,” said Shikles. “When you are in that much pain, you have a fear that you will be forgotten, but they came and checked on me every hour and took great care of me.”
Since her surgery, Shikles has returned to playing tennis. Her game has been unaffected by her injury.
“I am so grateful for the care that I received at Denver Health,” said Shikles. “I have referred three of my friends to Denver Health since my surgery; I was just so impressed with everyone I came in contact with.”
Avid bicyclist Governor Bill Ritter says he committed the “unforgiveable sin in cycling” on March 2 when he accidently overlapped tires with the rider in front of him.
“Once our tires touched, I just went down,” said Governor Ritter, recounting his accident.
As paramedics arrived on the scene, Governor Ritter requested that they take him to Denver Health Medical Center.
“As District Attorney and as governor of the State, I have heard again and again and again about the level of care that you get at Denver Health, particularly, trauma care for people who are badly injured and come into the Emergency Room.”
Once he arrived at Denver Health, Carlton Barnett, M.D., trauma surgeon, diagnosed the Governor with six rib fractures on five different ribs and a broken sternum. The transverse processes on his vertebrae were also broken and he suffered a separated shoulder and a punctured lung.
“He did a classic shoulder roll, causing the separated shoulder and came down hard on his rib cage,” said Dr. Barnett, who describes Governor Ritter’s case as complex.
“Ribs play an important roll in helping you breathe,” said Dr. Barnett. “Breathing can be very painful when you have a fractured rib. It was important that we monitored the Governor to make sure he was taking deep breaths and not developing complications such as pneumonia.”
“My physician, Dr. Carl Barnett, was a fantastic physician; he has great skills as a physician and also a great manner,” said Governor Ritter. “It was just phenomenal to see the staff go to work, and over a period of time, do all that they could for me to get me back to a place of being healthy.”
Governor Ritter stayed at Denver Health for four days so the doctors and nurses could monitor his progress and make sure he didn’t have any respiratory complications.
“I was really fortunate that Denver Health was my destination after the bike accident. I got this phenomenal health care from Denver Health as a trauma center. Here I was hearing about that (level of care at Denver Health) for all these years and now experiencing it.”
“Quite frankly, I was so impressed with the care I received there; I now have my primary care physician treating me out of Denver Health,” said Governor Ritter.