Doug Carlson Story

“I’ve been a patient in many hospitals across the country. None of them has given me the same level of personal care that Ridgeview has. They saved my life. It’s comforting to have such an outstanding hospital with an amazing group of doctors, nurses and staff here to serve me and my family. Their level of compassion and knowledge is remarkable. I am grateful to Ridgeview for giving me another chance at life.”
Doug Carlson Story

This is an extraordinary story of one man’s triumph over adversity. His quiet strength and passion for life is as inspiring as it is amazing.

Doug Carlson first visited Ridgeview's Emergency Department in 2006. At the time, Dr. Laurie Drill-Mellum could not have imagined that she would go on to develop a very warm friendship with him and his family. As an emergency medicine physician for the last 17 years, she has had the privilege of providing care to many patients who are inspirational. Doug is one of them.

Doug’s story starts long before he first came to Ridgeview. In 1993, he was diagnosed with an incurable form of non-Hodgkin lymphoma. At the time of his diagnosis, he was given three to five years to live. During this period of time, Doug was in and out of hospitals and became enrolled in various experimental treatments and clinical research trials throughout the country.

In the fall of 2006, 13 years after his initial diagnosis, Doug was waiting for his best friend, Jon, to pick him up at his home in Orono and bring him to a routine treatment. When Jon arrived at Doug’s home, he sensed that Doug needed immediate medical attention. He brought Doug to Ridgeview.

Upon his arrival, the Emergency Department team established that Doug was experiencing complications from his chemotherapy, which were affecting his heart. The team passed these findings on to Doug's physicians. Based on this new information, his treatments were altered, which lead to an improvement in his condition. Later, his physicians shared that Doug would have died had the Ridgeview staff not discovered the correlation between his treatment and his heart condition.

In the fall of 2007, Doug once again suffered complications from his treatments and went into a coma. His family called an ambulance, which brought him back to Ridgeview a second time. Doug was placed into Intensive Care, without much hope that he would recover.

But against all odds, Doug managed to pull through. He shared with Dr. Drill-Mellum that when he awoke, he saw the three most important people in his life: his wife, his daughter and his mother, who were all sitting at his bedside. One week after arriving at Ridgeview in a coma, Doug walked out on his own two feet. Words cannot describe the joy the Emergency Department team felt as they watched him leave the hospital with his family.

In April 2008, Doug made one more trip to Ridgeview. This time, he arrived with a body temperature of 105.7 degrees. Once again, the team got him stabilized and sent him home.

Today, Doug receives care from another hospital, but his preferred choice is Ridgeview Medical Center. Why? It's because of the thorough and compassionate care that he receives from the Ridgeview team. He comes back often to say “thank you,” and is actively seeking ways in which he and his wife, Veronica, can support Ridgeview's mission. Dr. Drill-Mellum points out that it’s uncommon, yet rewarding, to see such gratitude and commitment from a patient.

The Emergency Department at Ridgeview treats a wide range of medical conditions. Every patient receives the highest level of concern, respect and care, regardless of the situation. Patient wait times are among the lowest in the Twin Cities area, and patient satisfaction levels rank consistently high. While Ridgeview is very proud of these rankings and accolades, it is the impact we make on our patients and their families that we value most. In order to continue to be a health care resource of excellence, philanthropy is essential in keeping our services new, innovative and responsive to our patients’ needs. We need your support now more than ever.

Ridgeview Foundation asks you to help us continue to transform the lives of people in our community by supporting our organization. You can help us make a difference in the lives of people like Doug Carlson, and every other patient we encounter.

There are so many different ways you can impact the experience that a patient has at Ridgeview. Did you know that a gift of $100 can purchase a CD player, headphones and relaxation CDs for a patient room in the Emergency Department? A $250 gift could provide important advocacy and interpreter services for a non-English-speaking patient. Every gift we receive will make a difference!