Jul 1, 2011

Baxter Regional Reopens Upgraded 2 West

Tears came to the eyes of many as Baxter Regional Hospital Foundation Executive Director Barney Larry told how Jerry and Sue Verzal came to provide a $250,000 gift for the renovated lobby of Baxter Regional Medical Center's 2 West floor. It was a story of Jerry's love for Sue and their appreciation for what BRMC has done for them.

Larry shared the story at a celebration Thursday evening for the completion of the 2 West upgrade and its reopening, the results of the hospital foundation's second capital campaign which raised $750,000 for the project. Donors, BRMC supporters, staff members and others turned out for the event and to see the refurbished hospital rooms.

Donors "adopted" the rooms by contributing $10,000 for the project. They are recognized with a plaque outside the rooms they adopted.

Each room in the wing has been upgraded with state-of-the-art technology for improved patient care. New beds not only appear more comfortable, but they work electronically with various parts of a patient's care, such as weight measurement. Lighting is improved and brighter for both the patient's use and to help doctors and nurses better administer care. Infection prevention flooring and seamless sinks allow for faster, safer and less intrusive cleanup.

Yet it was Larry's story about the Verzals that struck a chord with those in attendance. They had lived in California, where Jerry worked in insurance, and he also bought real estate in Nebraska, California and Washington, said Larry. When he retired in 1993, the couple sold their California home and bought an RV to travel through America. They also had vacation homes in Washington and Costa Rica.

Their travels brought them to the Twin Lakes Area and the White River, and Larry said when the Verzals decided to buy a more permanent home, their choices were Costa Rica -- or Mountain Home. They chose Mountain Home.

Jerry had surgery at BRMC in 2005, one of three surgeries he had there. Yet it was a morning in July 2008 that changed their lives, according to Larry. Their plans to go out for coffee and to shop ended when Sue began having trouble getting dressed, Realizing something was wrong, Jerry helped her finish getting ready then walked her to the car for a trip to the BRMC emergency room.

"She walked to the car, and that was the last time she walked," said Larry.

Sue had suffered a stroke. She was initially treated at BRMC, then transferred to a Springfield, Mo., facility, but came back to BRMC for rehabilitation. She was able to return home, but another stroke in October 2009 resulted in Sue going to a long-term care facility.

Larry said she became sort of a roommate with his own mother, and he sees Jerry regularly. He said Jerry is there with Sue every morning, and their travels now are weekly trips to a restaurant. For the care they received at BRMC, the care and consideration given by those who work there, the Verzals decided to give back and donated $250,000 for the 2 West lobby. Both were present for not only the wing's reopening, but the unveiling of a plaque and portrait in honor of Sue.

Planned Giving Officer Estella Tullgren said this year's capital campaign had a new element a $20,000 charitable give annuity. The gift annuity creates an income stream "and great tax benefit," according to Tullgren.

BRMC President and Chief Executive Officer Ron Peterson told the audience that while health care faces uncertain times, he can look around at the hospital and "I realize how we're defying the odds." He said BRMC has a strong foundation with a dedicated and strong medical and nursing staff, but most importantly "we have the support of the community."

A list of donors

Donors to the Baxter Regional Hospital Foundation's 2011 Adopt-a-Room Capital Campaign included:

Jerry and Sue Verzal
Dr. Bob and Ellen Ahrens
Dr. John Ahrens
Bonni C. Ashley
Arvest Bank
John and Mary Jo Belinski
Carolyn Branch
BRMC Auxiliary
Brooks-Jeffrey Marketing and Computer Store
Darren and Donna Calhoun
Elizabeth Cline
Bill and Pat Dondanville
John and Ann Dyess
Phyllis Holmes
Dr. William and Elka King
Barney Larry
Judy R. Loving
Pam Mason
Dr. Paul and Dody Neis
Dr. Tim and Connie Paden
Shirley Patterson
Ann Jo Price
Professional Credit Management Inc.
Doris Reeves
Rick and John Schmeski
Dr. Fred and Norma Taylor
Barbara Wright

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