‘The show must go on’: TMH health care providers comment on treating Governor Hickenlooper
March 11, 2011
Just as everyone puts on pants one leg at a time, everyone needs medical care at one point or another.
"That's right," said Marie Kettle, an emergency room nurse at The Memorial Hospital in Craig. "People of all levels need medical care. So, you treat them the same."
Still, one patient who walked through the ER doors in need of care Wednesday night was atypical for the local hospital.
That patient was Gov. John Hickenlooper.
Earlier in the night, Hickenlooper was preparing to leave J.W. Snack's in Craig for the Craig Chamber of Commerce's State of the County 2011 event at the Holiday Inn of Craig, where the governor was slated to be the keynote speaker.
While getting into the back seat of a Colorado State Patrol car, Hickenlooper hit his head on a metal shotgun rack and suffered a small laceration, said Eric Brown, the governor's spokesman.
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Hickenlooper was a patient from 6:15 to 7:05 p.m. at TMH. He required five stitches.
Before the governor's arrival at the hospital, the ER staff received a call notifying them of his impromptu visit.
"We have our steps that we go through, and we were ready for him," Kettle said. "We got a room ready, and waited for his arrival. … It was business as usual."
Jon Ossen, the attending physician in the ER, was also aware of the call.
"My first question was, 'Is he going to have an entourage?'" Ossen said. "If there was, you'd be dealing with a bunch of extra people and have to get them out of the way."
However, there was no such following accompanying the governor, Ossen said.
"He came in by himself, with our EMT," the doctor said. "Then, a few minutes later, his chief of staff came in."
Ossen said Hickenlooper was laid-back.
"He just walked in here like any other person," Ossen said. "I don't think Schwarzenegger or someone like that would be that way."
"He's very relaxed," she said.
Although his patient Wednesday is one of the most powerful officials in the state, Ossen said his hands were steady.
"You have to treat him like every other patient because that's what he is," Ossen said. "He's a normal guy who has a job to do. People elected him to do it."
Ossen said he and the governor didn't talk politics.
"We had normal conversations," Ossen said.
The closest their talk got toward politics was when Hickenlooper mentioned his appearance at State of the County.
"He said he was here to give his speech," Ossen said. "He mentioned he wanted to bring high-speed Internet to rural areas and he just kind of talked about what he wanted to talk about.
"Other than that, I did the normal patient interview, asked him all the pertinent questions about the injury, and that kind of thing."
Ossen and Kettle agreed the governor was calm throughout the process. However, the same can't be said for his chief of staff, Ossen said.
"She was asking if he would be able to go and give his speech," Ossen said of Hickenlooper's aid.
Hickenlooper's response fit his demeanor, he added.
"'The show must go on,'" Ossen said, recalling the governor's comment.
The governor arrived at State of the County a few minutes behind schedule. When he took the podium for his speech, he thanked the hospital for the care he received.
TMH spokeswoman Jennifer Riley was in the audience and heard Hickenlooper praise the hospital.
"It was a very nice surprise to hear the governor speak so highly of the hospital when he got to the dinner," Riley said. "You can't ask for more than to have a public official express his appreciation for the care that he got here.
"It was unsolicited and very welcome."