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  • Sarah Waara

The power of a name

Updated: Jun 19, 2023

Dan Lauer can remember all of his caretakers' names at Ascension St. Elizabeth Hospital even though more than a year has passed since his heart surgery.


“I still remember my nurses’ names from my ICU stay,” Dan said. “Well, actually, I remember every provider I had before, during and after my stay.”


The notion of simply remembering a name — or in Dan’s case, more than 10 names — may seem small, but to Dan, it means the world. Dan had COVID-19 and his physician at a nearby hospital recommended he get a calcium screening. The screening — a scan of the heart to assess for coronary artery disease — produced a score of 1783. In a perfect world, an ideal score is 0.



Dan was referred to Ascension St. Elizabeth Hospital for heart surgery in April 2021 which was followed by a short stay in the ICU and a 12-week cardiac rehabilitation program.


“My inpatient, ICU and rehab experiences were great,” Dan said. “I received absolutely great care in the ICU and my rehab experience was incredible.”


Dan was so moved by the care he received that instead of returning to his primary hospital for cardiac rehab, he chose to stay at Ascension St. Elizabeth Hospital. The Outpatient Cardiac Rehab program is a 12-week program that focuses on exercise and modification of risk factors for heart disease.


Dan’s rehab experience started with completing an assessment on the hospital's treadmill, which was funded by Ascension Wisconsin Foundation.


“We strive to enroll patients in their outpatient cardiac rehab program shortly after discharge,” said Robyn West, Clinical Coordinator of Cardiac and Pulmonary Rehabilitation Services. “Our program has been enhanced by support from the Foundation and that allows us to accommodate more patients and enroll them sooner rather than later.”


During the 12 weeks, Dan met all of his goals and strengthened his heart. But along the way, it was more than that. His caretakers turned into friends, who then turned into family. The care received, Dan says, turned into more than he ever could have imagined.


“After a year of receiving care, and going in for follow-up exercises, the caretakers become like your family,” Dan said. “I’m very thankful for all of the care I have received at Ascension St. Elizabeth Hospital. The providers have served a large purpose in my life, and for that I am forever grateful.”


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