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Nurse-to-be becomes patient, learns lessons on caring
Allie Harmatys was playing basketball when she ruptured her Achilles tendon.
“It felt like someone kicked me,” she says. “It started swelling and bruising immediately.”
Allie headed to the Emergency Department at Mayo Clinic Health System. “The provider recommended I see someone in Orthopedics,” says Allie.
She made that appointment and then started to worry. Not just about her injury, but also about whether her care would be covered by her insurance, which was set to end soon.
“I’d been a medic in the Army Reserve for six years and was still covered by Tricare, the military insurance,” she says. “But I wasn’t sure how many days I had left on my policy.”
There was another worry. Allie was a week away from graduating from nursing school and moving home to West Bend, Wisconsin.
“It was stressful and not a convenient time to be injured,” she says.
When Allie explained her situation to staff at Mayo Clinic Health System in Onalaska, Wisconsin, they got to work scheduling tests. And when those tests revealed she would need surgery, they quickly scheduled that, as well.
“Everything happened within days,” Allie says. “It was amazing to me how my health care team met my specific, time-sensitive needs.”
That team included Charles Nolte, D.O., the orthopedic surgeon who repaired Allie’s ruptured tendon, and Aaron Jacobson, the physician assistant who she would see for her post-surgical appointments.
“I moved the day after surgery, but still drove 3 1/2 hours back to La Crosse for my post-surgical appointments,” she says. “It was worth it to me. Everyone was so kind.”
That kindness and care followed her home to West Bend, where Allie began physical therapy.
“Aaron contacted my PT (physical therapist) before I started therapy and made it so smooth to transition my care,” she says. “And he called me soon after I started to see how things were going.”
While she’s not yet back on the basketball court, Allie says her recovery is going well.
“I can’t run or jump yet, but I’m able to use the stationary bike and elliptical,” she says. “Everything’s going according to plan.”
And while she’s anxious to fully recover, Allie says there’s a silver lining to being a patient.
“This experience gave me great perspective on the patient’s point of view,” she says. “People went out of their way to make things happen for me. They genuinely listened to my needs and concerns. I’ll carry all of that forward into my nursing career.”