Col. Richard H. Johnson, United States Army (RET.) has steady nerves.  In November 2013, those nerves were tested.

For over a third of his 30-year military career, Colonel Richard H. Johnson’s specialty was Explosive Ordnance Disposal (disarming bombs).  “Did you ever see the movie The Hurt Locker?” he asks. 

The battle-tested veteran, and the men and women he led, did extremely dangerous jobs.  He’s known more than his share of stress.

But Richard Johnson didn’t expect to have his mettle tested after he retired.  In a letter to hospital CEO Patrick O’Donnell, Richard wrote,

“During November 2013, I was a patient at Chambersburg Hospital on two occasions and I’m writing to commend the hospital staff, particularly the nurses and aides, for the outstanding and professional care they provided me.” 

It wasn’t a bomb that threatened his life this time.  At least not the kind he was used to dealing with.  Richard faced a double hurdle, medically, when an unexpected heart attack complicated his post-operative recovery from a total knee replacement.

“I was admitted on November 4th for total replacement of my left knee.  The operation went well and I was expecting to be discharged on the 6th when it became apparent there was difficulty with my heart,” Richard said.

Richard Johnson is grateful to be alive. 

“One nurse deserves particular credit, Richard continues in his letter.  “I credit my nurse, Cindy, with getting me to face reality and accept that the problem was my heart.  I owe her my lasting gratitude and perhaps my life.”

While caring for Richard, Cindy Widder, RN, recognized the signs of a heart attack.

Chambersburg Hospital cardiologist, Dr. Aylmer Tang, evaluated Richard and quickly determined the problem:  Richard needed triple by-pass surgery to restore proper blood flow to his heart.

EMTs transported Richard to a regional hospital with capability to perform the open- heart surgery he needed.  Richard later returned to Chambersburg Hospital with complications during his recovery .  He was here for six days more days.

Richard went on to say in his letter, “Please convey to every member of the Chambersburg Hospital Nursing Staff (nurses and aides) my most sincere thanks for the absolutely fantastic care they provided to me both times I was in the hospital.”

No one wants to face either of the surgeries that Richard had – let alone both, back to back.  “It was quite an ordeal,” Becky Johnson recalls grimly.  Nothing either of them wish to go through ever again. 

Richard spent a lot of time at Results Therapy and Fitness facilities regaining strength in his knee.  Richard is pleased with his care.  So impressed, in fact, he joined Results Fitness Center so he can continue to work out and stay strong.

“Everyone including the receptionists at the front desk and all the therapists working there do a great job every day.  I credit Tammy and Lisa for literally getting me back on my feet,” says Richard. 

To his Cardiac Rehabilitation team, “Please convey my deepest thanks for the care they provided me.  The supplemental information they gave and the exercise program they supervised has given me the tools and confidence I need to make a successful recovery.  Please extend my personal thanks for a difficult job well done!”

Richard Johnson spent over 30 years travelling the world in a dangerous field of work only to face his most formidable enemy here at home.

The journey back to health was not an easy one, for sure.  However, after 23 days hospitalized and countless hours in both cardiac rehabilitation and physical rehabilitation, Richard is robust and feeling better than ever. 

Thanks to his new battalion here at home – Becky, his doctors and nurses, his cardiac and physical rehabilitation teams, and the multitudes of other health care professionals involved in his care –   Richard is safe and sound today.

Thank you, Richard and Becky Johnson, for sharing your experience at Chambersburg Hospital!

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Tuesday, October 7, 2014