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Justin Six

No one wants to end up in the hospital – especially during a pandemic – but when veteran Justin Six of Springdale became sick, help couldn’t wait. “He’d been feeling nauseated and woke up vomiting blood,” his wife Brandi explains. She rushed Justin to the Veterans Health Care System of the Ozarks. Doctors there discovered a virus, one not related to Coronavirus, was responsible for his symptoms. But a CT scan revealed another problem – a dangerous blood clot near Justin’s abdominal aorta. “It was a fluke they found it,” Brandi says. “If it hadn’t been for the virus, they wouldn’t have found the clot.”

Justin would need to see a specialist and the couple could choose which doctor and health system they wanted to use. Brandi, a licensed practical nurse, says Washington Regional was the clear choice. It was where Justin received care in the Neuro Intensive Care Unit after suffering a stroke two years earlier and where Brandi knew he would again receive quality care. “Washington Regional has a really good reputation, especially for cardiac care. They referred us to Dr. Robert Jaggers at Washington Regional Cardiovascular and Thoracic Surgery and he recommended surgery.”

“I’ve only had one surgery in my life and that’s when I was a child so, I wasn’t looking forward to it,” Justin recalls. While some people might be nervous about having to be hospitalized during the Coronavirus pandemic, Brandi says they weren’t worried. “At no time did I feel it was unsafe to come to the hospital,” she explains. “The pre-op nurse called and explained everything in detail and walked us through where to go and what to expect. Any questions I had, she had answers for.”

Justin’s doctor placed a special stent graft to open his blocked vessel and remove the clot. Extra precautions in place due to the pandemic meant Brandi couldn’t stay at the hospital during her husband’s surgery and recovery. But Brandi says his care team made sure she stayed informed. “They were constantly giving me updates and that really put me at ease.” She says other safety precautions also demonstrated Washington Regional’s commitment to safe, compassionate care. “The Coronavirus screening for everyone, wearing the masks, restricting visitors – it makes me feel like the hospital and clinics are doing all they can to make it as safe as possible for patients.”

After an overnight stay to monitor his recovery, Justin was able to go home. “The nurses were great,” he says. “Even when I woke up at 1:30 in the morning and was hungry, they made sure to find me plenty to eat.” Brandi says her husband received excellent care. “Every single person I was in contact with was really helpful.”

Justin is now getting back to his regular routine, along with his service dog Maggie. The couple wants people to know they shouldn’t wait to get care. “You’re probably safer at the hospital than at your house,” Justin says. Brandi agrees. “Health problems can get worse if you delay care. If there’s something going on with your health, get help right away.”