Area men share testimony of life-saving treatment during rehab at Hermann Area District Hospital

Dave Marner
Managing Editor

Two area men who were both hospitalized for an extended period and nearly died, one with a serious illness and the other following a broken pelvis, spoke Friday about the care they received in Hermann Area District Hospital’s physical therapy and rehabilitation program.

Both men, Randy Blaske, of Mt. Sterling, and Don Brandt, of rural New Haven, experienced complications at other hospital, rehabilitation, and nursing facilities before arriving at HADH. Both said the hospital and staff in Hermann saved their lives during brief testimonials given prior to the hospital’s 21st annual Memorial Golf Tournament to benefit the auxiliary unit’s support of the facility which turned 50 last year.

The hospital room they would both spend extended stays in has become known as the “Miracle Room.” It’s also the room where Randy Blaske married his wife, Stephanie, during his rehabilitation after complications from a burst gallbladder.

Brandt arrived at HADH after breaking a hip and then suffering a ruptured artery. Five people were required to help him out of bed after five months of hospitalization and nursing care at other facilities. 

Six weeks later he walked out of HADH with a cane. HADH was where his longtime girlfriend and now wife, Kathy, and his son said he needed to be after visiting the facility.

“It’s a wonderful experience,” Brandt said of his skilled care and rehabilitation therapy at Hermann. “I just can not say enough about the wonderful care and people at that hospital. And it’s such an important thing for our community to have this hospital available and it’s a wonderful thing. The reason I’m able to walk today is because of that hospital.”

Blaske’s journey to the “Miracle Room” almost didn’t happen.

He received last rites three times during more than five months of hospitalization at other facilities and time in a care center. His colon was punctured by a feeding tube at one facility. He was septic.

Ten bags were “hanging off” him to help him fight infections and drain fluids. He credited Dr. Donald Swayze for an evaluation which he believes saved his life.

“I’m most grateful to Dr. Swayze too,” said Blaske about his physician’s decision to eliminate the feeding tube and changes to a drain valve to allow for better digestion. 

“‘It’s going to help you digest and get some food in you,’” he recalled the doctor telling him. “So they done that little thing and about a month and a half later I was home. It was a long recovery with going to Hermann and getting that evaluation…”

His thought trailed off and he recalled receiving a bath for the first time in five months. Once he was on solid food again, and hungry, he said he craved a fried bologna sandwich. He said the hospital’s “chef” granted his wished after a consultation about how it should be prepared. 

“And while I was there I said ‘what a place to get married’ so I married my lovely wife,” Blaske told the golfers. “They’ve got an open menu. A great wedding venue and super care. So, thank God for Hermann Hospital.”

Both men have been invited to speak at hospital dinner in late June at Adam Puchta Winery which includes an evening of jazz music.

The golf tournament, named in honor of the late Betty Bruns, a long-time hospital board member, raised more than $9,000 to help purchase hospital equipment and support a scholarship fund for local students wishing to pursue a medical career. 

After their presentations at the golf tournament, the two couples stopped by HADH to visit their “Miracle Room” and visit Owensville resident Jim Diestelkamp who is currently receiving care during his recovery from pneumonia. Both men thanked staff who had helped care for them. Both agreed, it was “truly a Miracle Room.”