Richard Moulson knows about quality medical care. For the past decade, the retired Oklahoma businessman has successfully battled both cancer and heart disease.
So the last thing he wanted when visiting his granddaughter and her family in Pullman was yet another chance to pass judgment on doctors, nurses and hospital staff – especially under emergency circumstances.
“But I got up in the morning, checked my bag, and it was full of blood,” Richard recalled. After having surgery a decade ago for colon cancer, Richard has worn a colostomy bag. He and his wife, Della May, were just a few days into their first visit to Pullman. And his discovery, Richard recalled, derailed all their plans.
“My granddaughter, she said, 'You need to get into the hospital.' So that's what we did.”
Four months after the incident, Richard said via telephone from his home in Hennessey, Okla., that his care at Pullman Regional Hospital was so exceptional that he wanted to leave a tip – some sort of gratuity to express his heartfelt thanks to everyone who cared for him. So he gave $500 to the hospital's Guardian Angel program.
“The Guardian Angel program is designed to give patients and their families an avenue to express their gratitude to the physicians, nurses and staff at Pullman Regional Hospital,” said Megan Guido, who along with the Pullman Regional Hospital Foundation Board of Directors started the fund during her tenure as director of the Foundation. “Healthcare is a very personal experience. The quality of our staff and their care and attentiveness is what people remember and want to recognize.”
The Moulsons said they couldn't agree more.
“I couldn't have asked for a better experience at a hospital,” Richard, 80, said.
“When you're in a strange place and you're used to your doctor and your hospital, well, it was really a wonderful experience to be away and have the nice doctors and hospital in Pullman,” Della May said. “You just hope that if it happens again somewhere, you'll be where it's as good as it was there.”
The Moulsons' granddaughter, Lindsay Brown, recalled how her grandparents had arrived and were so excited, especially Richard, to attend the Washington State University football game against Colorado. The game was on Saturday. But Richard made his alarming discovery on Wednesday, three days before kickoff.
“He was really worried about missing the game,” said Brown, who is the dietician and nutrition coordinator for the WSU athletic department. Family members, of course, were worried about Richard. “It was considered an emergency because he had a substantial amount of bleeding and we didn't know the cause.”
Lindsay, her husband, Justin, and 3-year-old son, Lane, live in Palouse, about 15 miles north of Pullman. An ambulance was dispatched. “The first responders were great in Palouse,” Lindsay said of the local emergency crews who arrived within minutes.
At the hospital about 30 minutes later, Richard was surrounded by emergency staff and doctors. Richard said he was concerned, but mostly disappointed that he was disrupting a family reunion and, of course, probably going to miss the football game.
“In the last 10 years they've been in the hospital setting a lot with cancer treatments and open heart surgery,” Lindsay said of her grandparents. “So they have a good comparison. They have a lot of experience.”
From the emergency room, Richard was admitted to intensive care. A colonoscopy was performed to find the source of the bleeding. He received transfusions and was relieved to hear the diagnosis.
“It turned out to be a diverticulitis flair-up and a colon polyp inflammation. That's
what caused the bleeding,” said Lindsay, who used to work as a nutritionist at a hospital in Colorado. “It was really good for all of us that it was a pretty easy fix.”
By Friday, one day before game day, Richard said he was feeling better and was able to leave the hospital. “I just felt that my experience there at the hospital couldn't have been better,” he said of the reason behind his donation to the Guardian Angel program. “Everyone there, the doctors, the nurses, the nurse's aides, all of them are just great people.”
Hospital employees named by patients for exceptional care are given a custom-crafted angel lapel pin to wear. Guardian Angel donation dollars go to the Pullman Regional Hospital Foundation and are used to, among other things, advance healthcare community-wide as well as support facilities improvement, medical technology and scholarships for staff to further their educations.
The Moulsons said they're satisfied, like they were with Richard's care, that their donation will be well spent.
“I think they did a wonderful job. Everybody was so nice,” Della May said. “If you're going to have an experience like that, you want it to happen somewhere like that.”
Lindsay agreed. “The care was great. Working in a hospital before, I knew the proper procedures to take place. They did everything really great. When he was in ICU he had a lot of attention from the doctors and nurses both.”
As for the football game, Richard and his family made a happy early exit. The Cougars were ahead.
“We left at the beginning of the fourth quarter. We thought, they've got it in the bag,” Lindsay said. “But we spoke too soon.”
Colorado scored three touchdowns in the fourth quarter, including one in the last nine seconds, to beat the Cougars 35-34.