In the Loop

News and views from across Mayo Clinic

June 28, 2018

Speedy Delivery Reunites Patient With His Belongings

By In the Loop

When a patient's belongings didn't make it with him during a transfer from one Mayo Clinic Health System site to another, staff stepped in to track down the missing items.

Not long ago, a patient arrived at Mayo Clinic Health System in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, with nothing but the hospital gown on his back. His clothes and glasses, it turns out, were some 50 miles away at Mayo Clinic Health System in Barron, Wisconsin, where the patient had first sought treatment. The personal belongings had been left behind in the rush to transport him to Eau Claire for emergency care. That would quickly change, thanks to the staff on the ground and an assist from Mayo One, Mayo's emergency medical helicopter.

Chaplain Nathan Anderson learned of the unique situation after talking with the patient. The patient was distressed, and it didn't take the chaplain long to discover the reason why. "He was scheduled to be discharged the next day and had nothing but his hospital gown," Anderson says. While the patient had reached out to family and friends, none were able to help reunite him with his belongings. "I told him that I would check into it," Anderson says.

So Anderson began working the phones in an attempt to track down the missing items. Rick Hawkins, Mayo Clinic Medical Transport, provided the first break in the case. "I called Mitzie Feidt [a health unit coordinator in Barron] and she was able to locate a bag with items that matched the patient's descriptions," Hawkins says.

Initially, staff planned to transport the items from Barron to Eau Claire during the next ambulance transfer. But then Evan Graning, Hawkins' colleague, mentioned that a helicopter would soon be on its way to pick up a patient from Barron. "So we arranged that the crew would transport one critical patient along with the bag of belongings for the other patient," Hawkins says.

When the helicopter landed, a Mayo Security staff member was on hand to meet it and receive the special delivery. Then the belongings were delivered to the patient. Altogether, it took just over an hour to reunite the patient with his clothes and eyeglasses. "The timing," Anderson says, "was impeccable, even providential. The patient was ecstatic, saying: 'I can't believe it. I can't believe it.'"

Neither can Hawkins. "In my 21 years at Mayo, I've never been involved with this type of transfer, but on this day, the stars aligned," he says. "This was not a common situation, but I'm glad we were able to transport two pieces of precious cargo on the flight that day."

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Tags: emergency medicine, Employee Stories, Evan Graning, Mayo Clinic Health System in Barron, Mayo Clinic Health System in Eau Claire, Mayo One, Mitzie Feidt, Nathan Anderson, Patient Stories, Rick Hawkins

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