Paying it forward
You made the scariest times of our life a little more manageable.
On June 16, 2002 – Father’s Day – Denise Gerhardt’s husband, Rick, and her son, Dusty, went for a drive. The quality time between father and son turned into a nightmare as the two ended up in a horrible car accident.
Dusty was released the following day, but Rick wasn’t so lucky. Emergency crews had to place a tracheostomy before even arriving at the hospital, and Rick suffered broken vertebrae, wrist, fibula and tibia; he lost his spleen and several feet of his intestine; and his liver and kidney were lacerated. He was in the ICU for an entire month, and then spent another month in a rehab facility. On the day of the accident he weighed 175 lb; when he came home two months later, he had dropped to 118 lb.
Over the next eight years, Rick visited Parker Adventist Hospital many times due to continual vomiting, dehydration, and pain resulting from head trauma he had sustained in the car accident. In 2015, an exploratory surgery at Parker Adventist revealed that his stomach was where his heart should be, and he had an incredible amount of scar tissue that had to be removed.
Throughout this time, mounting medical bills meant the family was struggling financially. A co-worker suggested that Denise, who was a CNA at Parker Adventist Hospital, reach out for employee financial assistance from the Parker Hospital Foundation.
It wasn’t easy to ask for help, but Denise knew how much her family needed the assistance and submitted her request. The Foundation paid the family’s mortgage payment that month. But the difficult stretch persisted, and the family received notice that the IRS might step in to collect payments that would shut down Rick’s machine shop, which he had owned and operated for 40 years. The Foundation stepped in again and paid two more months of the family’s home mortgage.
“I swore that day that I would repay it, and pay it forward someday,” said Denise. “I owe so much to the Foundation and all the people who contribute to the Associate Financial Assistance fund for making the scariest times of our life a little more manageable.”
Today, Rick feels the best he has felt since before the accident. Denise no longer works as a CNA after sustaining an injury herself, but transitioned into a patient access representative role at Parker Adventist Hospital, where she still works part time, donating a small amount from each paycheck to the Associate Financial Assistance fund.
She has also become a successful real estate agent, and for every house she sells, she donates $100 of her commission to the Parker Hospital Foundation.
Our associates give of themselves in many ways – carrying out our healing ministry to all those in need and helping our patients, families, communities and each other live their best possible lives. Their compassion and generosity are palpable, and they’re not limited to the incredible work they do in our facilities each day; in 2019, more than 3,000 associates across Centura Health contributed more than $725,000 to the incredible programs that make each hospital special through our Associate Campaigns.
Thank you to Denise and each and every one of our associates who give freely and generously of their time, energy, empathy, and funding to make a difference for our patients, communities, and each other.
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We share incredible stories of lives changed in our communities through YOUR support of our hospitals and programs.