Spending the night alone in a hospital bed can be a frightening experience and the stress of recovering by yourself can be deadly.
Warren Brenner suffers from Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease or COPD that requires him to stay on oxygen to breathe. Brenner came to Avera Sacred Heart to get help with a pneumonia flare up, but on a warm June night, he also began fighting for air.
"Oh I was scared! I was in a panic, I was in a great panic!" Said Brenner.
This fight for air quickly became a fight for his life. Brenner called the nurses, who then called Respiratory Therapist Sarah Wesdorp to help.
"My feeling was it could have gone either way, there was... He didn't look good." Said Wesdorp.
COPD causes the airway to become much more narrow, many patients claim it's like trying to breathe through a stray all the time. When Brenner went into panic it was like someone squeezing the straw and he was left gasping for air.
"These girls come in 2,3,4 of them and they just kept talking to me and encouraging me to stay alive and without them I don't think I would have lived!" Said Brenner.
Brenner calls this group of nurses and therapist his angels, as the four women did anything and everything to get his breathing under control.
"He asked if I could stay and I said that's part of my job too, and I stayed, and sat and held his hand for a while. He made a comment to a co-worker he thought he broke my hand, he was holding on so tight, but that was ok!" Said Wesdorp.
The anxiety and stress lasted more than five hours, yet the angels stayed with Brenner the entire time.
"I was ready to give up, them girls kept, they wouldn't give up, they never did give up, they just stayed right there with it." Said Brenner.
While Brenner has nothing but praise for these women, Wesdorp says she and her fellow 'angels' were just doing their job.
"You have to have the empathy, you have to understand what they're feeling, he's in the hospital room alone you aren't going to do what you have to do then walk out and leave him feeling scared." Said Wesdorp.
Brenner says he's been in other hospitals and clinics over the years but says Avera Sacred Heart is a rare facility where everyone is ready and willing to go the extra mile for their patients.
"I know there are some people that complain they don't get their pills on time, but they're probably down the hall saving someone else's life!"
It is said that angels appear in our hour of greatest need, but on that warm night in June, Warren Brenner believes he had four show up.
The three other angels Mr. Brenner would like to thank are nurses Tanya Kuchta and Nancy Zimmerman, and nursing assistant Andrea Franks.
For more information about services and staff at Avera Sacred Heart call 877-AT-AVERA.