Meet Jola Kraus: Kansas Heart Hospital’s first patient
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On Monday, February 15, 1999, the first employees of Kansas Heart Hospital were finalizing protocol and procedures in preparation of the first patient who was scheduled the following day. Unexpectedly, Jola Kraus, a patient of Dr. Gregory Duick, her Cardiologist, presented in the hospital lobby stating she had "received a note from her doctor to be admitted today to the heart hospital!" In actuality, Jola was scheduled to be admitted to another Wichita hospital since the Kansas Heart Hospital was not officially open.
According to Jola, she had "been in St. Catherine's (in Garden City, Kansas) and they told me I needed to have heart surgery. Of course I was not looking forward to it but I didn't have a choice. I had a piece of paper that said Kansas Heart Hospital on it."
Jola was admitted to Kansas Heart Hospital that day. Several hospital employees remember Jola fondly.
Joanna Grant, RN, recalls, "I remember she came to the hospital, we had no idea that she was coming...we thought Dr. Duick had set us up!"
"Jola was our first patient and that was exciting since she was our first admission as well. Respiratory Therapy was ready for her," recollects Harry Stockwell, Respiratory Therapist.
Anne Gehman, a staff RN at the time, remembers vividly that "Jola was very patient and very pleasant."
After her admission she underwent heart catheterization that same day. "She just showed up and we were told that she was going to have her procedure," states Cath Tech Shannon Thompson. "She was really pleasant and sweet and kind of tickled that she was the first patient."
Ultimately, Jola's heart cath procedure confirmed her need for open heart surgery and, following her surgery, she received a permanent pacemaker. "She was the first one to come through surgery and it was a very exciting time," remembers Manager of Surgery, Carla Nelson, RN. "We were excited, we were getting all the equipment in the proper places and we were ready to go!"
Jola remembers this time as well. "We went ahead and did it and I was the star of the whole show! Everybody gave me such good care and I was very special. There was somebody there all the time and from my bed I could see the nurse. She was always there. I was very appreciative and thought it was a very good hospital."
In 2009, Jola returned to KHH from her hometown of Garden City, Kansas and underwent a pacemaker battery replacement as an outpatient.
"I got good care and I have come back," states Jola of her return to KHH.
In June 2012 she returned to Wichita again to share her thoughts and feelings about her first Kansas Heart Hospital experience.
"I tell everyone I was the first patient and I'm still here to tell the story," she says.
Dr. Duick presented Jola with a certificate to honor her for being the first patient at Kansas Heart Hospital and for being first in our hearts. She was very appreciative of the award, "I knew there was some reason I was living this long!"