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August 25, 2022

Trauma team helps patient attend loved one’s funeral

IU Health Methodist Hospital

Trauma team helps patient attend loved one’s funeral

Following a serious car accident, a North Vernon woman found special assistance from her IU Health trauma team.

By IU Health Senior Journalist, T.J. Banes,

They had been side-by-side for 33 years. But on July 6, Virginia Simmons found herself alone at IU Health Methodist Hospital.

At 1:20 in the afternoon, Simmons was a passenger in a car driven by her longtime companion, Elmer Hall, 73. According to a report by the Jennings County Sheriff’s Office, Hall’s 2006 GMC Envoy was traveling southbound and ran off the county road, striking a tree. The report said that a medical issue was the cause of Hall’s accident. He was pronounced deceased at the scene.

Simmons, 73, said Hall suffered a heart attack. He was retired from the construction business. He became acquainted with Simmons when he helped install an air conditioner in her home.

“We’ve just always been together. It’s never been any other way,” said Simmons.

She was transported to IU Health Methodist Hospital where she said she suffered bumps and bruises and a shattered hip. She remained hospitalized for several days where she was in the care of a team of providers that included Nurse Navigator Katie Watson, Nurse Practitioner Leann Guerra, Case Manager Alicia Sommers, and Trauma Surgeon and Medical Director, Dr. Peter Hammer.

When arrangements were made for Hall’s funeral on July 12, Hammer worked with IU Health LifeLine to secure transportation for Simmons.

“I contacted the LifeLine Medical Director to see what the feasibility was of having them transport Mrs. Simmons and played go between for our clinical team and LifeLine leadership” said Dr. Hammer.

The day of Hall’s services at Dove-Sharp & Rudicel Funeral Home, LifeLine team members Director, Christopher Oberg, and EMTs, Nicholas Madden & Travis Jarret helped transport Simmons to North Vernon. She was accompanied by Watson, and IU Health chaplain for trauma services, Thomas McDorr.

“We’d discussed different ways to get her to the funeral. She needed medical supervision and I said, ‘I’d go,’” said Watson. The group departed at about 11:30 a.m. and returned around 6:00 p.m. “Knowing it would be a long drive down and back, I offered to go to provide emotional support if needed,” said McDorr.

Simmons was in a wheelchair and was beginning to work with the rehab team at IU Health in preparation for her discharge. She is now in a rehabilitation facility and said she is able to get up and walk.

“Being able to go to his funeral, meant the world to me. It wasn’t closure because you never reach closure but it helped to be with family and friends,” said Simmons.

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