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Never give up!

Never give up' is my unshakeable belief when it comes to tackling my recent medical diagnoses,” said Jeffrey Leavitt. “I found out my A1C was high and before I knew it, I was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. Luckily, I looked for resources and found SLV Health’s Diabetes Clinic.”

Mr. Leavitt appreciated the knowledgeable and compassionate care he received from Dawn Arellano, RN, CDCES, in helping him with education, resources, and support. He nominated Dawn as a DAISY nurse because she changed his life. “She’s terrific. Diabetes is a confusing and complicated disease. I am six feet tall, and with Dawn’s help, I dropped my weight from 205 to under 175 pounds; my blood sugar went from 267 to 120; and my A1C from 7.8 to 6.2.”

Later, Mr. Leavitt was diagnosed with cancer. Not one but two different types. “I thought I was going to die a slow and painful death,” he commented. “I’ve been to the ER five times, lab, x-ray, oncology, urology, otolaryngology, cardiology, surgery three times, chemo infusion ten times, and radiation sessions 28 times (at Colorado Springs). There is a consistency of professional, positive patient care running through every unit at SLVH. I have experienced big city hospitals including Johns Hopkins, and SLVH has them beat, hands down, not even close.”

Mr. Leavitt is almost 80 years young, feels strong, and will not give up the fight. “Focus is important when we have major health issues. When I get overwhelmed, I break things down into smaller pieces, deal with one thing at a time, and have open communication with my caregivers.

My advice to new patients is to leave your judgements at home and realize we are not the only ones dealing with stress. Many caregivers at SLVH have worked through the pandemic, risking their lives daily to save ours. Stress is a major part of their experiences also, yet they work through this for us. One time I asked a nurse how he felt after a shift full of patient interactions. He said, ‘Sometimes I just go home and cry.’

When we are faced with something difficult, like a scope or surgery, it is important to remember that our caregivers are people too. They want us to win. Fear about our health can easily spiral into uncontrollable panic.”

“Sometimes as healthcare providers, we don’t recognize the impact we have on the patients we serve, and then along come patients like Jeffrey who remind us that what we do matters,” says Dawn Arellano, RN, CDCES.

Dawn grew up in the San Luis Valley and completed college at Adams State University and worked in industries outside of the healthcare field before attending nursing school. Now an RN & CDCES (Certified Diabetes & Education Specialist), she chose to specialize in the Diabetes field not only because of the prevalence in the SLV, but from personal experience.

The SLVH DEEP (Diabetes Education & Empowerment Program), is the only accredited Diabetes program in the SLV. “We become part of the patient’s health care team, not only educating them on Diabetes, but also empowering persons living with Diabetes.”

When she found out that Mr. Leavitt nominated her for the DAISY award, she remarked, “Oh, he is such a kind and thoughtful person.” She mentioned that Mr. Leavitt was a patient with an open mind and was willing to learn and adapt his ways toward a healthier lifestyle.

Mr. Leavitt nominated several other nurses for the DAISY award. “I am awed and humbled by the many SLVH staff members I have encountered, each dedicating themselves to my care. SLV Health also has been supportive with a reasonable payment plan. We are given options in life, not the least of which is our own attitude. If we view the healing process as a team effort, it can truly be a win-win experience. We can find ways to work at being the healthiest person we can be. It’s our choice.”