Jim’s peaceful passing and a family’s gratitude for his care
Hennepin Healthcare thanks the family of Jim Kahn for sharing this story about their father and for recognizing our team members. It’s so wonderful to learn more about the lives of people in our care and to hear how a difference was made in a time of need.
Jim Kahn was a healthy, sharp, independent man who was born in 1929 and was soon to turn 94. Despite his older age, he was on no medications living a good life in independent living, and was blessed with a wonderful family. Jim lost his wife and brother within a year and a half, and had to give up his car and move into a different living facility, but had transitioned with resiliency.
One day, a fall in his apartment resulted in a blow to his head. Jim grabbed a towel, called 911, and then proceeded to pack his bag and then wait for the ambulance to arrive while he held the towel to his head to control the bleeding. His children, Sue, Ross, and Debbie, along with Debbie’s husband Craig, take his story from there.
Ross explains, “We got a call from paramedics that our father fell in his bathroom and hit his head and they were on their way to HCMC. It was a Friday night, and Jim lived in St. Louis Park, so we wondered why they were taking him to Minneapolis instead of his local hospital. The paramedics explained that he needed a Level I Trauma Center, and Hennepin Healthcare was the best place for him, especially with the head injury.”
Sue continues, “We were in a quiet waiting room, and the doctor came in and told us that Dad was in serious condition, was intubated, and was being moved to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU). Dad was conscious when he came in, but in the end, never gained consciousness.”
While the family gathered around their father as he lay in the ICU, they not only couldn’t believe the level of care their dad received, but the outpouring of concern and care staff gave to the family. The communication between the different providers was seamless and amazing. They remember Dr, Kenneth Dodd, the main doctor for Jim. Ross explains, “The nurses were amazing. All the staff were so impressive and there was a seamless transition between shifts. From the neurologist to radiology and the techs, to the nurses to the emergency medicine doctor, he was doing dual duty.” (This is a testament to Hennepin Healthcare’s 5-year Emergency Medicine / Internal Medicine Residency.)
Debbie chimed in, “The chaplain was amazing. She asked what my dad liked to do and of course, we all said fishing. He was an avid fisherman. The chaplain left for a bit, then came back with a beautiful quilt and said, ‘Well I couldn’t find a fishing quilt, but here is an outdoorsy one’, and she gently laid it over my father. That was so touching. We even got to keep the quilt to remember our experience and our last time with our dad.”
Then came music therapy. “This woman came in with her guitar and asked us what type of music our father liked,” said Sue. “We laughed as we explained his favorite was klezmer, which is a type of European folk music played with clarinets and fiddles and doesn’t go very well with a guitar! She played Edelweiss. It took me back to my 15th birthday when I saw The Sound of Music. We couldn’t believe she did that.”
A social worker helped them realize they needed to take care of themselves, too, and that their dad also needed some space. Without rushing the family, she organized a meeting, because they also had some difficult decisions to make.
“A team was immediately formed with palliative care and internal medicine physicians who had been working with our Dad and his neurologist,” explains Sue. “They weren’t looking at their watches or looking impatient. They were all totally engaged in this whole team approach.”
“We had been sleeping there, and they told us we didn’t need to be there 24/7,” explained Ross. “They made it seem like our Dad was the only patient in their care and they did everything to make him comfortable. They treated him like a dignitary.”
And maybe he was.
The family shared how a palliative care team member asked questions about their Dad, and they told her that although he was raised in Belle Plaine, Minnesota, his family would travel to Minneapolis for “major” health events, like when his mom would have babies.
“We found out our dad was born at St. Barnabas,” said Sue.
St. Barnabas is one of seven hospitals that make up Hennepin Healthcare’s history. It stood about a block away from Jim Kahn’s hospital bed. When she was at HCMC, Sue had a chance to visit Hennepin’s Medical History Center to learn more about her dad’s birthplace.
Ross noted, “Dad took his first and last breath on the same block.”
A week after he died Dr. Anne Pereira called to see how the family was doing. They were so touched. Jim was an army veteran, a printer by occupation, and had seven grandkids and one great-grandchild. He was a man of few words but had a life well-lived – strong and resilient as he faced life’s challenges and was loved and respected by his friends and family.
“Thank you, Hennepin Healthcare, for the amazing care you gave our father. We don’t remember all your names, but you touched our lives as our father passed peacefully.”
From the family of Jim Kahn.