BOISE, Idaho - Last July, Ritch Orcutt, 64, spent a happy weekend in Stanley with his grandchildren. He hadn’t felt good for a while, but that weekend, he felt worse.
A CT scan revealed that a cyst had grown through the wall of his intestine into his abdomen. It was about the size of an orange. His doctor immediately sent the Boise resident to St. Luke’s Boise.
“I got to the room, got my bedclothes on and went to go to the bathroom,” Orcutt said. “I sat down and something let go. I heard it (a popping sound) and I felt it (like the air being let out of a balloon). And within 5 seconds, I went from feeling not too bad to I can’t believe how bad this hurts.”
The cyst had burst, and Orcutt passed out from the pain.
Orcutt said the next thing he knew he was in the operating room preparing for surgery, and then waking up in his hospital room, where he spent seven days.
“The doctor told me if I’d been anywhere else but the hospital, I’d probably died,” Orcutt said. “It almost makes me misty, what had to be organized within an hour or two of my problem.”
Orcutt says he can’t begin to describe how grateful he is for the care of St. Luke’s doctors, nurses and staff, including the patient advocate, food servers and housekeepers.
“I didn’t know anything,” he said. “I’d never faced anything like this. I was scared and everyone, including the cleaning crew, put my mind at ease. Your hospital staff was so superior and so superb; I can’t imagine going anywhere else. My pain was very well managed. If I was sleeping, they didn’t bother me. I don’t know how to tell you how much they were cheery.”
And it wasn’t just the medical care, but St. Luke’s financial guidance. Orcutt, a diesel electrician by trade, said he was laid off about a year ago and hadn’t been able to find work. He had no insurance and was not quite a year shy of signing up for Medicare. He believes he wouldn’t have been able to pay off the bill for his surgery in his lifetime.
“I figured I’d lose my home over this,” he said. But St. Luke’s staff helped him apply for financial aid and “put my mind at ease financially.”
St. Luke’s also found funds to help pay for his surgery, he said.
“One day I went to the mail box,” Orcutt said. “There was a letter from St. Luke’s (saying his balance was zero), it saved my life financially. It truly did. I could see all of a sudden, I’m not going to lose my life. I’m not kidding you. I broke down. To catch a break, I can’t tell you what a huge thing that was in my life.”
Orcutt says he can’t thank St. Luke’s enough for his medical and financial care.
“It was life changing,” he said.
Ken Dey served as Public Relations Coordinator at St. Luke's from 2008-2014.