Paul Berg was responding to an urgent call from a fellow Odin, Minn., resident at 3 a.m. on Jan. 6, which is not uncommon considering Berg has been a member of local emergency response teams for more than three decades. But little did he know that his attempt to save a life would lead to his own life saving journey, aided by the collaboration of Mayo Clinic Health System and Mayo Clinic.
When Berg entered the caller’s residence, he found a woman seated in a recliner in the midst of cardiac arrest. He had to move her from a seated position to properly conduct CPR and, while doing so, felt an uncomfortable pop in his back.
A few moments later, other emergency responders arrived at the residence and the patient was taken to the Emergency Department at Mayo Clinic Health System in St. James. After turning care over to the St. James staff, the ache in Berg’s back became so unbearable that he began shaking in pain. Thomas Koehnen, M.D., who was supervising the Emergency Department, noticed Berg’s distress and ordered a CAT scan to check Berg’s back. After viewing the results, Dr. Koehnen concluded that there was no major injury to Berg’s back muscles; however, there was an unusual spot on Berg’s right kidney.
“I was discharged from the ED later that morning. I stopped at the Physical Therapy Department to have my back issue evaluated and made an appointment for the next week,” said Berg. “I was fortunate to be able to see my regular physician, Dr. Lindy Eatwell, before I left the clinic. He was concerned about the findings from the Emergency Department and promptly scheduled an ultrasound of the kidney for the following Monday.”
After the ultrasound was conducted, Dr. Eatwell, family medicine provider at Mayo Clinic Health System in St. James, explained that the kidney spot was likely a cancerous tumor. Berg was then referred to Joe Lee, M.D., urologist at Mayo Clinic Health System in Mankato, for a follow-up appointment to better locate and understand the tumor.
“The following week, I met with Dr. Lee in Mankato. He was able to access all of my information – even back to my initial treatment on Jan. 6,” said Berg. “He said that he had reviewed the scans done in St. James and concurred with Dr. Eatwell’s diagnosis of malignancy. He thought it best that I be referred to Dr. George Chow at Mayo Clinic in Rochester.”
Berg met with Dr. Chow, urologist at Mayo Clinic, on Jan. 24, and a pre-operative physical was scheduled for that same day. The seamless flow of information between staff at Mayo Clinic Health System and Mayo Clinic ensured a satisfying, high quality patient care experience. Added Berg, “This process was expedited due to the fact all of my Mayo Clinic Health System in St. James records were at the fingertips of the Rochester staff.”
In order to ease his mind about certain questions and concerns prior to surgery, Berg contacted his longtime urologist, John Holstine, M.D., at Mayo Clinic Health System in Fairmont. “He, too, stated that he had reviewed my records and scans online,” said Berg. “He concurred with all of the previous diagnoses and said that he was familiar with Dr. Chow at Mayo Rochester. His assurances gave me invaluable peace of mind.”
Berg underwent surgery on Jan. 30 to remove the tumor. Dr. Chow and his staff conducted a successful operation and were able to save a major portion of Berg’s kidney. The outlook for a full recovery was optimal.
“I cannot say enough about the wonderful care I received from the beginning to the end of this journey,” declared Berg. “The thorough examination of the CAT scan by Dr. Koehnen and the radiology staff at Mayo Clinic Health System in St. James truly saved my life. The smooth transition from St. James to Mankato to Rochester allowed me to focus on getting better instead of worrying about filling out more forms and repeating tests. Every person I met, from housekeeping to surgeons, made extra efforts to help me just when I needed it.”
On April 16, Berg had a follow-up exam and remains cancer-free. He was seen by multiple providers throughout his medical journey, but the collaboration between various geographical sites within Mayo Clinic Health System and Mayo Clinic in Rochester allowed for an experience of care continuity and efficiency.
To schedule an appointment at Mayo Clinic Health System in St. James or Mankato, please call 1-800-412-7575 (toll-free).