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It Takes a Village in a Crisis: Creating Solutions for Augustana Care Resident Dealing with Amputations

December 19, 2013

The day Sue Johnson was discharged from the University of Minnesota Medical Center, Fairview was a momentous one—not least because she faced a long journey. Until 2013, Johnson lived in St. Paul and worked at a job she loved. After feeling like her flu symptoms were worsening one evening in February, Johnson alerted friends and family. She was rushed to the hospital and doctors say her survival is something of a miracle.

Due to a rare condition brought on by a kidney stone, Johnson went into a coma for ten days. When she came out of it, she had to undergo a quadruple amputation procedure. She would need a team of specialists and a setting that would enable her to live as independently as possible in the future.

Johnson had been in the hospital between February and August in 2013, and her mother and sister chose Augustana Care after meeting with Marketing Director Aimee Robertson. Robertson was instantly inspired by meeting Johnson, who “refused to let any of the barriers she was facing get her down.”

The barriers were indeed significant. Recovery continues to be a long, slow process, as Johnson has had to learn how to use her prosthetics and adjust to a completely new life. Robertson met Johnson on her first tour of Augustana Apartments of Minneapolis, along with her therapy team from the hospital. Johnson was also accompanied by several family members, a member of Centrex Rehab which provides therapy to Augustana Care residents and Assistant Director of Health Services Sarah Clough at Augustana Residential Care.

Augustana Care staff and the medical team went over every inch of Johnson’s apartment, determining how she would function and the assistance that would be needed. The visit allowed Augustana Residential Care to initiate special training so staff could help Johnson with her needs in the morning and evening.

“It was an amazing experience,” Robertson said. “All of these skilled professionals gathered from different disciplines were united behind the goal of helping Sue to be as independent as possible in her new home. It reminded me of the saying ‘it takes a village’ because none of us have the wherewithal to solve a crisis by ourselves.”

Augustana Care staff members continue to be inspired by Johnson’s sunny disposition, warmth and grace. “I find strength from my mother, who is a very strong woman,” says Johnson, “and from the love and support of my beautiful sisters and family.” She counsels patience for others in her situation, noting that “when I got to Augustana Care, I just had such a good feeling. I knew I made the right choice.”

Johnson’s employers are still holding her position open for her. If you’d like to help with expenses, donations may be made at Sue’s CaringBridge site here: