Gratitude spotlight: Nurse in San Andreas is thankful for hope and healing

Dignity Health’s Mark Twain Medical Center

In January 2019, Laura Keller, a family nurse practitioner at the Valley Springs Clinic for Dignity Health’s Mark Twain Medical Center, was at home in San Andreas, Calif. It was a stormy but otherwise normal day for her when she suffered a sudden and extreme headache and vomiting. Even after being in the medical field for 30 years, Laura did not immediately recognize her symptoms. As her symptoms worsened, Laura and her husband, Jack, rushed to Mark Twain Medical Center, only a few minutes from their home.

There, she was quickly diagnosed by the attending physician with a brain aneurysm—an often fatal condition of a ruptured blood vessel that causes blood to seep into the brain.

“Because of the attention of the nurses and doctor in the emergency department, and the promptness of the CT and lab technicians, I was stabilized and prepared for transport. Due to our own transfer and transport team, as well as our local ambulance personnel, I was safely transferred to Dignity Health Mercy San Juan, an hour and a half away, and then again to UC Davis,” says Laura.

She credits the partnership with other hospitals and the teamwork and skill of all involved with her care—registration clerks, administrative staff, housekeepers, therapists, and especially her surgeons and family—with her ability to share her story today.

“Everyone did their part, and if they hadn’t, a life would surely have been lost,” says Laura. “I have always understood that teamwork is essential to helping others and saving lives. I am now keenly aware of the importance of our roles as providers and support staff to assure patients are cared for in the best way possible.”

As Laura has recovered and returned to work she is even more inspired to carry out the mission of Dignity Health—to deliver compassionate and high-quality health services; to serve and advocate for those who are poor and disenfranchised; and to partner with others in the community to improve the quality of life for everyone.

“I’ve experienced our mission firsthand, as an employee and now as a patient,” says Laura. “I’ve always tried to practice medicine with kindness and respect. With dignity, collaboration, justice, stewardship, and excellence in our hearts and minds we can exceed our own expectations through teamwork and deliver the best health care for all.”

A Calaveras County native oak in San Andreas, Calif., part of the natural beauty that Laura Keller pauses to be grateful for.

Along her recovery, Laura has made it a priority to practice gratitude. Every day she takes moments to genuinely thank those she works and interacts with, she pauses to take in the beauty that surrounds her in the San Andreas, and the gratitude she has for being alive is never far from her heart and mind.

As part of her process, Laura gratefully continues her monthly donations to Mark Twain Medical Center Foundation, recognizing that through philanthropy the hospital she holds dear will remain available to all.

“We can all do things to give back and give thanks—whether it be through monetary donations, volunteering, advocating, or a simple act of human kindness. The gratitude I feel is immense and I am especially grateful to my husband, family, and friends for helping me heal. With hope, compassion, gratitude, generosity, sincerity, and acceptance we can achieve so much. These aren’t just words—they are us and they matter.”