Medical care for stroke victim extends to entire family

Medical care for stroke victim extends to entire family

Linda Muhl, brother of Andy Nation:

“Late one night the phone rang with a call from an ER doctor, informing me that Andy (shown in the above photo on left, wearing a white shirt) had suffered a massive stroke. The doctor was so straightforward but in the kindest way. I don't know his name because I was in shock but he was wonderful.

“He said that Andy had essentially died when he had the stroke in his hotel room, but he was still breathing. They moved him to a care comfort room at Portneuf Medical Center to keep him comfortable until nature took its course.

“After he called, we didn't sleep that night. We got on the first flight from Dallas at 6 a.m., flew to Salt Lake City and drove through a blizzard to Pocatello.

“When we arrived, we were met by Maya, the sweetest nurse who made us feel at home. They brought us to see Andy in his room. It was difficult to see him there, as he was thrashing about in the bed because his body was shutting down. They couldn’t even keep an IV in him for medications.”

Michael McCormick, DO, Internal Medicine:

“Hospitalist physicians have the responsibility to care for patients in every stage of health and illness, often up to the time of death. We cannot predict the outcome of every patient when they come through our doors, and unfortunately, some patients present to us beyond our ability to make them whole again.”

Linda Muhl:

“The first day was really special because Dr. McCormick stayed with us after the nurse left so we could ask a lot of questions. When he asked where we were from and we answered ‘Greenville, Texas,’ he smiled and said, ‘I’ve been to Greenville several times to see my brother doing missionary work.’

“I had never been to or even heard of Pocatello, yet Andy had a doctor who had been to Greenville caring for him. It must have been a sign. Dr. McCormick listened to everything we said and answered our questions. As we were leaving, the nurse said Andy would probably pass the next day.

“The next morning we were met by Andy’s nurse Olivia. She was truly an angel. She came into the room on a regular basis all day and kept us aware of every move she was making.”

Olivia Wiberg, RN-PCU:

“Taking care of Andy and his loved ones through such a difficult and sad situation was one of those times when I was reminded of my passion for nursing and helping others through times like these.

“Sadly, there was not much I could do as a nurse other than helping the family and patient get through this time with as much ease and comfort as I can.”

Linda Muhl:

“We got back to the hospital early the next morning and found Andy lying peacefully in bed, unconscious and sedated through an IV connected to his arm. Soon after we got there, a member of the kitchen staff brought in a big pitcher of orange juice, coffee, apple juice, and water. It was so very thoughtful of them.

“Dr. McCormick came in and said he felt like today would be the day when Andy passes. He knew about my sister Donna, an ER nurse in Greenville, and my brother Larry who was driving to be there. ‘Does Larry need to be here before Andy passes?’ Dr. McCormick asked. I answered no, we have all made our peace with Andy. We continued to talk to Andy throughout the day because research says he could still hear us.

“Olivia stayed all day and told us each step that would happen and the next steps. When her shift ended, Kelly took over, and she was just as perfect as the other two had been.”

Olivia Wiberg, RN-PCU:

“Due to Andy’s condition and prognosis, I was unable to interact with him and get to know his personality. But through his family and loved ones, I was able to get a glimpse of what Andy’s life was like and the kind of person that he was. He definitely seemed like he was a hard worker and just carried himself through life very independently. He must have been so kind and loving to everyone he met.”

Linda Muhl:

“Andy was the light of our family and the kindest, most gentle person I have ever known. He made everyone laugh.

“He graduated from what is now called Texas A & M – Commerce with a bachelor’s degree in political science. He wanted to go to law school, but it was too expensive. He eventually got married, moved to California and received a Master’s in Theology from Fullerton Seminary.

“For a time he worked in Greenville at a home for adult men who needed extra care. Andy loved that work.

“Whenever he went through the drive-thru at McDonald’s, he always tipped the order taker a dollar. When he got his food, he gave that person a couple of dollars. That’s just the kind of guy he was.

“Andy also loved to travel, so he took a job with a railroad company, relieving personnel when they met their hours for the week. When the company suggested he work across the northern U.S., he jumped at the opportunity. After he first visited Pocatello, he told us during Christmas that we needed to visit ‘the little community in the middle of the mountains. The people are wonderful and it’s the prettiest place I’ve ever been.’”

Olivia Wiberg, RN-PCU:

“It sounds like he was close to his family and loved them very much, and vice versa. Meeting and getting to know Andy’s family truly touched me. I could feel their dedication and love for him. It truly broke my heart to see them all go through such a difficult and sudden hardship.”

Linda Muhl:

“Later that afternoon Dr. McCormick and the nurses came back in to help make Andy more comfortable. That’s all that we wanted because in our hearts we know he had passed the night he had the stroke. The staff was so sweet to do things I never would have thought of. One swabbed out his mouth with a moist cloth while another put lip balm on his mouth.

“Over the years, Andy and I had many talks about life, politics, even death. He was so afraid that he was going to die alone. I am so thankful that I got to be there by his side. I called my sister and held the phone up to his ear so that she too could say her goodbyes.

“I asked the nurses what will happen next because I had never been with someone at the end. They told us what would happen before his last breath and it was right on target.

“As we watched, Andy took his last breath. The staff then left to give us time to grieve.”

Dr. Michael McCormick:

“Helping patients and their families during these times can be some of the most important, challenging, and difficult cases physicians face. These experiences often provide the opportunity to bring family members closer together, as goals of care are put into terms of the patient’s known wishes, and this brings a sense of peace and comfort to all involved.”

Olivia Wiberg, RN-PCU:

“I am forever grateful that I was able to take care of Andy and his family. They were truly a blessing in my life and helped me grow as a nurse. I will always remember them as I care for future patients and make a connection with them and their loved ones. Andy will forever be in my heart and I will always keep his family in my prayers.”

Linda Muhl:

“We are very grateful to Andy’s railroad company for taking care of Andy’s funeral services. They told us how much they loved him. As I said to Dr. McCormick, I hate that Andy is gone, but if he had to die, I am glad that it was quick and in such a beautiful place.

“Andy was cared for by such precious people who chose to work with patients at the end of life. They cared not only for Andy but also for our family. Even while they did their job, they comforted us.

“I asked if they were assigned to do this work. One said that everybody works in this unit because they want to, because it’s so important. It's a part of life.

“I will forever be thankful to Dr. McCormick. I have never been with someone at their passing, but he answered all of my questions and those of my sister back in Greenville. Even though it could have been horrible, Dr. McCormick was the perfect doctor who made Andy’s passing as comfortable for us as he did for Andy.

“Thank you from the bottom of our hearts. We can never repay you for your kindness and professionalism. I know Andy is smiling.”


At Portneuf Medical Center, one of our core values is treating our patients, their families and each other with dignity and respect. Read more about our Mission, Vision and Values.