Our first experience with comprehensive medical treatment came in 1984. Our son was run over by a 40,000-pound bus. When I arrived at the trauma center where he was being treated, I immediately asked for a pad and pen and called my family doctor. I requested that he give me the names of the best doctors and resources, and I recorded what treatment worked and what services seemed to be missing at the center.
Our son’s survival was a miracle. When he was discharged, I did not stop making lists. As I volunteered in the trauma center, I kept a list of what areas of support were needed. I worked with them to ensure that their medical care program grew to include care for the families and friends of trauma patients.
Fast-forward to today. The lists continue. My husband and I moved to Vermont for our early retirement. We made a list to help us decide where to move. The first column was what we considered absolutely essential when choosing where we would relocate. The second and third columns were things we would really like to have in that new location. The first “must have” was to be near a top-notch academic medical center that had strong teaching and research components. This list was made while we were, for all intents, healthy due to our active commitment to health and exercise. My husband was a jogger, biker, marathoner, and tennis player and virtually never took any medicine. I was a long-distance walker, biker, and Jazzercise participant.
Seventeen years ago, we settled in Williston, near to what was Fletcher-Allen Health Care (now the University of Vermont Medical Center). We started to attend many of the hospital and medical school public forums on topics about different types of medical care and issues. We set up personal medical accounts through the hospital so we could monitor our test results. Little did we know what medical challenges we would both face, despite a lifetime of watching our diets and making exercise an essential part of our lives.
We both have had the need to call on the expert care offered by a wide range of specialists and each time, we made our list of questions for the doctors so we would know our options. My husband Don was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease, bladder cancer, diabetes, and has had stents and a pacemaker implanted. I have had kidney cancer and skin cancer and have had stents and double-bypass surgery. We both have completed the excellent cardiac rehabilitation program offered by the hospital, Don for twelve weeks and me for double that time.
Needless-to-say, this wide range of medical issues has required close consultation and extraordinary team work among our doctors to be sure we were getting the best care possible. At the University of Vermont Medical Center and Cancer Center we always were provided with that!
We continue to be in awe of the benefits of living near the University of Vermont Medical Center with its strong medical, research, and public education programs and know that the number-one item on our list of necessary requirements for our relocation was one of the most important decisions we have ever made!
Don Hersey was a high school English teacher for 35 years. Upon retiring, he relocated to Williston, VT. He has worked on projects for the town and is a long-term member of the Richmond-Williston Rotary Club. He has recently received the Paul Harris Fellow Award from The Rotary Foundation of Rotary International for service.
Jude Hersey was a volunteer Victim Services lobbyist, State of Connecticut Community Service Faculty Fellow under the CT Department of Higher Education, consultant, and Community Liaison Specialist and Board Member for the Greater Hartford (CT) Chapter of the American Red Cross. Upon relocating, she became a Board Member and Chapter Chairperson for the American Red Cross of Northern Vermont, is an appointed Commissioner for the Williston (VT) Conservation Committee and Trustee for the Dorothy Alling Memorial Library in Williston. She received several awards, including the Connecticut Governor’s Victim Services Award and Connecticut Governor’s American Red Cross Hero Award.