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Denison man credits CCMH with life saving treatment


(Denison, IA) – Medical expertise is needed when a patient is in crisis. As Larry Schwarte of Denison describes it, he owes his life to the expertise of the emergency room and hospital staff at Crawford County Memorial Hospital.

“I wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for the people at CCMH and Dr. Ramos,” Schwarte said.

Schwarte related his story from the beginning of his ordeal. “I had my arteries checked at CCMH by Todd Thomas (Thomas is a vascular ultrasound technician who has been on the CCMH staff for the past seven years). He does a nice job. Todd found out, over a very short period of time, that my right carotid artery was 75% blocked. Todd took care of it right there and then and called Dr. Tammy Ramos (who is a vascular surgeon that comes to Denison a couple of times a month). And Dr. Ramos picked up the phone and we scheduled an appointment for the following day.”

“Now, what Todd had seen was that my blockage was really becoming worse. So Dr. Ramos decided I needed to have surgery the following Wednesday. I had the carotid surgery as scheduled, on Wednesday, and I came home on Friday night. Saturday went pretty good. But by Sunday morning my neck started swelling, big time. So by Monday morning it was really bad. I didn’t know what was happening,” he related.

Schwarte thought it was just swelling. “So, I called Dr. Ramos at her office. The receptionist told me she was at an outreach clinic in Denison, Iowa. And I said, ’Oh, well that’s where I am at’. So I hung up, jumped in the car and I went on out and told the nurse I needed to see Dr. Ramos. The staff took me right back. When Dr. Ramos got there she came right into the room. In 2 seconds flat, she said ’we are going to Omaha’ and then she went out the door.”

Schwarte said that Dr. Ramos got into her car and went down Highway 59 to pick up her husband, a cosmetic surgeon, who was at Harlan having a specialty clinic there. “Becky and I went down Highway 30. We got down on the other side of Dow City and all of a sudden, oh my gosh, this whole front of my shirt felt like it was warm. And I pulled my shirt out and looked. There was blood on my shirt and all the way down my pants, and I’m bleeding badly. I said to Becky, ’Turn around and head for the hospital. Back to Denison‚. Meanwhile, I picked up the cell phone, and I called the Denison hospital and the receptionist answered the telephone. I said, ’This is Larry Schwarte and I was just there. Well, I’m bleeding real bad, is Dr. Ramos still there? I’m coming back to Denison, I am not going to make it to Omaha’.

Overcome with emotion, Schwarte paused, picked up his coffee cup, then put it down and reached for a napkin to dry his eyes.

Becky Schwarte picked up the story from there. “When we got back to Denison, there must have been 7 or 8 medical personnel waiting at the emergency room entrance. What had happened was Larry’s hematoma had burst and pushed the seam open at the bottom and that’s where the blood all came from.”

In the meantime, CCMH staff contacted Dr. Ramos, who was on her way Omaha, and related to her the details of Schwarte’s medical circumstances. Dr. Ramos immediately turned around to come back to Denison and called her husband in Harlan to appraise him of the situation. He borrowed a car and drove to Denison to assist in surgery.

Larry Schwarte recounted, “I thought it was just a bunch of blood that formed there but, no, this was blood that had formed in the tissues. So they needed someone with the expertise to go in and drain that fluid from the tissue. It was amazing - the expertise and the skill that these people had in the CCMH emergency room. The Emergency room staff did it with no help from Dr. Ramos.”

From there, Schwarte was rushed into surgery at CCMH where the artery and tissue damage was repaired. Larry said, “Dr. Ramos told me that she was so impressed because whatever tool she asked for, it was there and they knew how to use it. And she had never done a procedure like this at Denison before.” After surgery, Schwarte’s condition was stabilized before he was put on a helicopter and sent to Omaha.

“I don’t know if people realize how special Crawford County Memorial Hospital is. How fortunate we are, for such a small community, to have such a facility that is growing and has more expertise today than it did yesterday,” Schwarte said.

“When you talk about customer service – take care of the patient first – you can’t ask for anything more than that. You can’t. And if you went any place else I don’t think you would have gotten any better service than we got at CCMH. The doors were open and they were all waiting for us to arrive.”

Becky Schwarte commented, “What impressed me is that we were never left alone. Even when they wheeled Larry into surgery, somebody came out within 10 minutes to tell us how he was progressing and all the facts and what was going on at the time, what to expect, and the reassurance that everything was going fine.” “CCMH is getting set up to the point where fantastic specialists like Dr. Ramos, Dr. Biddle, Dr. Mooss, and others come in to treat patients. And people come from all of the counties around us for our physicians and specialists. What would these people do if we didn’t have a hospital to come to? So how do you tell people, ’don’t wait until it’s your turn’? Come now and use the facilities. You’re silly if you don’t,” Schwarte said.