Patient Survives Thanks to Granddaughters Heroics and ICU Care

Dan and Janice Strong were just one state to the east, but they felt worlds away from home in spring 2021.

While visiting from Nebraska, Dan had suffered cardiac arrest in the Eldora area. He was heroically resuscitated by his granddaughter and stabilized in the ER at Grundy County Memorial Hospital but still wasn’t in the clear as he fought for his life in the intensive care unit at Allen Hospital.

Everything was unfamiliar and uncertain for his wife, Janice. Fortunately, she found hope and encouragement from the team working to preserve Dan’s life.

"I stayed in the hospital with Dan while he was in the ICU," said Janice, "and the nurses would come give me an update, which usually ended in a hug, and I needed it."

Dan's story is an amazing one, even if he doesn't remember the first two weeks of it. The couple was visiting their daughter in Eldora when he collapsed. His granddaughter, Hannah, had recently been re-certified in CPR, so she called 911 and began chest compressions. Her response was life-saving, and an ambulance quickly arrived.

"I kind of heard a sound and I saw him over on the ground," recalls Hannah. "He just had his arm up, so I thought he'd broken it. All of a sudden, he just started turning blue, so I grabbed my grandma’s phone and called 911. I asked the lady on the phone, 'Do I need to do CPR?' She asked me, 'Do you know how to?' I said yes."

Just before leaving college for Christmas break, Hannah received an email inviting students to recertify for CPR, so she did. "I knew that would be a good thing because I want to keep working in the healthcare field. It was fresh in my mind, and I knew what to do and felt more confident than I ever could have been."

Hannah later received a recognition from the Red Cross for her life-saving action.

"Even when you've been trained, it's scary to assess an emergency and provide CPR to your grandpa," said Dan's daughter, Brandy Tripp. "We are so thankful and proud of Hannah and Garrison (Dan's grandson) for their immediate actions. They were critical in saving his life."

Ironically, Brandy is the Cardiac & Pulmonary Rehabilitation Coordinator at Grundy County Memorial Hospital (GCMH). She wasn't at home at the time of the incident but told family to have Dan taken to the emergency department in Grundy Center and then to Allen Hospital for further evaluation.

"I felt a sense of peace knowing the care he was receiving in Grundy's ER, as well as at Allen Hospital," Brandy says.

At Allen Hospital, Dan spent a week in the ICU and then spent another week on the heart floor.

A large team cared for Dan in the ICU – people like Dr. Julio Chirinos and nurses Matthew Faust, Erin Youngblut, Torri Flickinger, Alana Berger, Grace Ayers, Ashley Burnett and Paul Sellers. They clearly explained everything that was going on, signed a birthday card for Janice, prayed with the family and gave unlimited hugs.

"I know the individuals who cared for my dad do what they do day in and day out," Brandy says, "but for us this verse resonates, 'Perhaps this is the moment for which you have been created.'"

"I'm still just overwhelmed," said Dan. "Just listening to the stories of what happened for the first two weeks, it was astronomical what they did for me. The doctor came in and shook my hand and told me, 'I didn’t think I'd be shaking your hand like this, and I'm glad to be able to do it.'"

"I can't say enough good things about them because they were just so considerate and professional," Janice echoes. "The care team clearly explained everything, even when the conversations were hard, and provided compassion. They were very, very good to us."

Janice and the rest of her family were invited guests for a special Gerard Circle Giving Society event at Allen College recently, and they're happy to talk about the care they received.

A few months after the incident, Dan felt compelled to write a check to the Allen Foundation, and Brandy followed up with a message to the hospital.

"I wanted you to know that I would be singing the praises of your ICU team no matter the outcome," wrote Brandy. "I will forever be grateful. I thank God for each and every person who cared for my dad and my family."

Top photo: Matthew Faust, RN in ICU; Mike Lind, Director of Allen Foundation; Brandy Tripp; Dr. Julio Chirinos; Lindsey Brocka, ICU Manager; and Lisa Rider, Director of ICU.

Lower photo: Dan and his granddaughter, Hannah, who received recognition from the Red Cross