One Jamestown man just wanted a few more hours of sleep.

Instead, he received months of care at Jamestown Regional Medical Center.

The batteries in Dick Christensen’s smoke detector died around 4 a.m. one February morning. The 68-year-old climbed a chair to fix it and in doing so, crashed onto the floor.

As a result, he had injured himself below the knee, splitting the skin nearly eight inches, from one end to the other.


Wounds of that size are often complicated to heal, especially for a medically fragile man like Christensen. Diagnosed with polycystic kidney disease, he received a kidney transplant 14 years ago. He is also diabetic.

Christensen and his wife, Dennette, arrived at JRMC’s Emergency Department for care. Knowing the risk of infection and how dangerous that is for a person with fragile kidneys, Dennette advocated for her husband.

“I asked the doctor and the nurses if they were comfortable stitching a wound of that size,” she said. “They all took great care of us, especially Tracy Dale and Rachel MacDonald.”

Dale and Macdonald are registered nurses in JRMC’s Emergency Department.

For reassurance, the couple asked for a second opinion from one of JRMC’s Wound Care Specialists, Amanda Lausch, family nurse practitioner. Lausch has 20 years of experience and training specific to wound care.

Lausch inspected the wound and scheduled a follow-up appointment.

Despite the best care, some wounds just get infected, Lausch said, which is what happened to Christensen. E. coli is in every person’s body. So, when Dennette called one Monday morning saying the wound omitted an odor, Lausch brought the couple in right away.

“I was triple-booked that day, but I knew Dick needed help,” Lausch said. “The JRMC Wound team knows how much minutes matter when it comes to infected wounds. They’ll accommodate people as best as they can.”

Christensen would need surgery. And, if the tissue wasn’t healthy or the wound didn’t heal properly, doctors said they might have to amputate the leg.

After a tearful farewell, nurses wheeled Christensen from the patient care floor to the surgery center. Forty-five minutes later, they wheeled him back – with good news.

Doctors found healthy tissue. It will take time, they said, but we expect a full recovery.

Christensen remained admitted to JRMC’s patient care unit for five days. Because of his diabetes and fragile kidney, providers monitored his health as his wound healed. Meanwhile, they attached a wound vac to suction fluid from the injury.

Five days later, his wound was improving. However, his kidneys were not.

As a result, providers transferred him to a hospital in Bismarck, where a nephrologist could better monitor his kidneys.

After five days in Bismarck, the Christensens were ready to return home.

When he did, Cheryl Schiele, registered nurse in JRMC’s home health department, visited twice a week to change his bandages. Christensen said he looked forward to each visit.

“Cheryl and all the JRMC people took great care of me,” Christensen said. “I don’t know where I’d be without their help.”

Between the care of Schiele in Home Health and Lausch in the JRMC Wound Center, Christensen is fully recovered. In celebration, he finally rang the bell on July 13.

Today, Christensen is fully recovered. His wound is healed and he is back to cheering on the Minnesota Vikings, playing cards in the afternoon and fishing with grandchildren in the summer.

“It’s a miracle,” he said. “I am a miracle.”

To learn more, call (701) 952-4878.


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