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Extraordinary Care: Med Center Nurse Goes Above and Beyond to Arrange Visit

Neither Hurricane Sandy nor a military deployment could stop this visit

When U.S. Army Specialist Dustin Goan received orders to serve in Afghanistan, he made sure he planned for a trip to Omaha to see his grandfather Charles Kubich before he deployed. Kubich is battling ALS, commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease; Goan wanted to be sure to visit his grandfather before beginning his nine-month assignment in Afghanistan. But nature had other plans.

“Hurricane Sandy.” remembers Karen Andrews, Kubich’s daughter and Goan’s mother. “’They froze soldiers’ leave unless there was a serious reason for them to leave.”

There wouldn’t be time for Goan to visit his grandfather before his scheduled deployment.

Dustin Goan and family Dustin Goan (far right) was able to visit grandfather Charles Kubich (seated) and other family members prior to deploying to Afghanistan with the U.S. Army

“I called his sergeant,” Andrews says. “And he said I’d have to go through the Red Cross.”

That’s when Andrews asked neurology nurse case manager Elspeth McKeon to help get the proper documentation to prove the trip was necessary.

“There were a lot of phone calls,” McKeon says.

She spent much of the day calling the Red Cross and the Army, navigating the regulations and paperwork involved with such a request. After a full day, McKeon had everything submitted.

“I was on pins and needles waiting for the call,” Andrews says. “It was approved an hour later. He got in the car and started driving right away.”

His mother says Goan’s relationship with his grandfather is exceptionally close. When work forced his parents to move out of the Omaha area, Goan stayed behind to finish high school. He lived with his grandparents. Later, he followed in his grandfather’s and father’s footsteps into the military.

Andrews says the visit, while more rushed than originally planned was a huge boost for Kubich.

“We don’t know how the disease will progress,” Andrews says. “But this meant so much to him.”

“This was very rewarding,” McKeon says. “The emotional benefits are fantastic.”

As for what it took to bring grandfather and grandson together, Andrews has a deep appreciation for what McKeon did to make it happen.

“I just love her,” Andrews says. “Elspeth and everyone in the ALS clinic; this meant the world to him.”