Courtney's Story

"I could go anywhere for my care and I choose Hennepin Healthcare because I know I am in the best hands."

As a local television reporter, Courtney Godfrey has lost track of how many times she’s stood outside the ER of HCMC for live news segments. She never imagined that someday she would be inside those doors.

That day came on September 15, 2017, when she lost her lower leg due to a boating accident. At the accident scene, she was given a choice by the paramedics, and she chose HCMC. When she arrived and started receiving care, she knew she was in the right place.

“Right as the fear and panic was setting in, I felt a hand in mine. I looked to my right, and there was an ER nurse named Melody,” recalls Courtney. “She provided so much compassion and care. She reassured me that I was going to be alright. The compassion she was able to convey through simple words and actions was the most comforting act. She held my hand from that moment until I went under anesthesia.”

Her husband Ryan works in healthcare, and they sought several second opinions after her initial trauma care. Do they need to go somewhere else, back to her family in California, to Mayo? But she states, “Everyone told us, you are in the BEST place and to ask for Dr. Andrew Schmidt.”

When doctors explained why they needed to take more of her leg, Courtney hesitated, requesting to speak with Dr. Schmidt. That evening he arrived to explain that taking more of her leg would provide her access to more prosthetics and give her better mobility. She accepted, but only if he would agree to do the surgery. Although he was leaving for England the next day to speak at a conference, he understood how important his presence was to Courtney.

At 4 am Courtney was prepped for surgery. Dr. Schmidt performed the operation and caught his flight to England later that morning.

“These are the actions that make care so special at Hennepin Healthcare,” shares Courtney. “It comes down to the people, the doctors, and especially the nurses. I want them to know they are the heartbeat of the hospital. I have two nurses in my family, my mother and sister. There’s nothing more challenging than other nurses in the room with your patient, scrutinizing your work. I can’t say enough about the nurses in the ER and Orthopedics.”

That is why today, Courtney finds time to answer their calls. When there is an amputee patient, especially a female, who could use encouragement, HCMC nurses contact Courtney. Within 24 hours, she is there to give the patient hope and show life is not over. She shares: “When I walk in there looking normal, dressed cute, walking on two legs, it gives them hope.”

It was a decision early on by Courtney and her husband to make her injury and their journey public. They knew there were other people out there going through something tough, going through trauma, who could look to them for guidance and inspiration. Courtney is also open with the struggles: “It’s not all roses and sunshine. Even a year and a half later, I get nerve pains, and I put that out there along with the positive experiences.”

Many would say Courtney has recovered from her accident. However, for her, recovery implies you are back to where you were before, and returning to where she was isn’t good enough. “When you have lost a leg, and you’ve been given a second chance at life, why would you return to normal when you can exceed normal,” she states. “In the end, this accident has provided me a new opportunity to help people, to be a voice, even advocate at the capitol. It’s an honor.”