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The Meaning of Care Magazine
Comprehensive Care That's Deeply PersonalPublished: March 16, 2020
When Minnesota native JoAnn Jensen moved to Iowa with her husband, Tim, she was looking for a “one-stop shop” for health care – a place all of her medical and wellness needs would be met.
As fate would have it, she found someone who met needs she never thought she’d have.
OB/GYN Lori Platt, MD, joined the Methodist family in September 2010.
“Within the first month or so of me being here, I met JoAnn,” Dr. Platt said. “We just kind of hit it off. We had a lot of things in common.”
Putting Friendship to the Test
Pregnant with their firsts, JoAnn and Dr. Platt bonded over similar symptoms and all that went into preparing for a baby. The two women, who’d long dreamt of being mothers, became fast friends. But the strength of that friendship was tested when JoAnn’s pregnancy ended in agony: Baby Lucas was delivered stillborn in September 2012.
“That was such a hard thing that doesn’t get talked about,” JoAnn said.
It was hard for Dr. Platt, too, who was on maternity leave at the time – something JoAnn admits made the situation even harder.
Dr. Platt wondered if she’d ever see JoAnn again.
“Here I had a perfect delivery and pregnancy, and she didn’t get to take a baby home,” Dr. Platt said. “That’s a worst nightmare.”
“But it was never a thing between us,” JoAnn said. “Because I knew there was a reason that things happened. I didn’t know what they were at that time, but I also knew that she was going to be there for the next journey.”
As it turned out, JoAnn was also there for Dr. Platt’s next journey.
Doctor Turned Patient
In February 2014, JoAnn and Tim welcomed twins. It was a complicated pregnancy that ended 5 ½ weeks early, but it also ended with two tiny miracles – Sophie and Brody.
Nothing was going to stop Dr. Platt from seeing and holding those babies.
Not even breast cancer.
Diagnosed just a few months earlier, Dr. Platt, who had recently given birth to her second child, was undergoing radiation when she first visited the Jensens inside the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at Methodist Women's Hospital.
“They waited to name them until I got to meet the babies,” Dr. Platt said. “That was such a fun day.”
“I wanted to support her as much as she had been supporting me,” JoAnn said of her friend and physician who showed up to the NICU sporting a brand new wig. “But you don’t know how to do that as a patient.”
What JoAnn didn’t realize was how much she had done already. Through the birth of Lucas, she taught Dr. Platt how to be strong during life’s worst moments.
“I thought, ‘If she can make it through that, I can make it through this,’” Dr. Platt said.
And she did. Just in time to help JoAnn through a similar diagnosis.
An Incidental Diagnosis
Given JoAnn’s previous pregnancy complications, she and Tim weren’t sure they wanted to continue expanding their family. Yet Dr. Platt was the first person JoAnn texted when she and Tim were surprised by another positive pregnancy test.
“I said, ‘I promise you it’s going to go just like it should,’” Dr. Platt said.
In October 2018, JoAnn and Tim welcomed little Beau into the world. And they did something they hadn’t done before: They brought home a healthy baby straight from the hospital. But a few days later, JoAnn became ill.
“Things just got progressively worse,” JoAnn said. “I was in excruciating pain.”
She was taken to the Emergency Department at Methodist Jennie Edmundson Hospital immediately following Beau’s first well-baby appointment with pediatrician Shawn Jones, MD, at Methodist Physicians Clinic Council Bluffs. Imaging revealed that JoAnn suffered a blood clot in one of her ovaries and developed an infection. But it also revealed something else.
“I remember Dr. Platt coming in,” JoAnn said. “I remember her face. I’ve known her long enough to know something wasn’t quite right.”
JoAnn was diagnosed with renal cell carcinoma – kidney cancer – which is treatable if caught early. She underwent an ablation procedure with interventional radiologist Paul Christy, MD, at Methodist Hospital.
“Beau saved her life,” Dr. Platt said. “She had a baby, and she had a post-operative complication, which led to an early diagnosis of her kidney cancer. If anyone knows anything about kidney cancer, it’s really not symptomatic and, if not caught early, has a very poor prognosis.”
JoAnn, too, considers Beau a blessing. But she wouldn’t have made it through cancer without Dr. Platt by her side. The two friends agree: The past several months have solidified their bond and brought their story full circle. Despite some of the darkest parts, it’s a story JoAnn wouldn’t trade for anything.
“She brings me a lot,” JoAnn said. “She brings me happiness. She brings me memories. She brings me … friendship.”
JoAnn tried to hold back tears as she realized how much it’s all meant to her over the years.
“There’s sadness for both of us,” she added. “But there’s so many other things we have that outweigh all that.”
The Meaning of Care Through Meaningful Relationships
JoAnn is fully aware that Dr. Platt has special connections to all her patients. She knows that meaningful relationships are important to every provider at Jennie Edmundson because she’s grown close to a number of them.
“Dr. Platt was a bridge to the other care we needed,” JoAnn said. “There was never a time I felt I needed to go elsewhere for any specific care or cause. I didn’t have to travel. I didn’t have to make a lot of life changes to go through all this stuff.”
While Dr. Platt is proud of the convenient comprehensive care that Jennie Edmundson offers, she feels blessed to be part of a health system that believes medicine should be deeply personal.
“That’s probably more important than anything else in the world,” she said.
Because that’s what leads to quality care, she said. That, she said, is The Meaning of Care.
Photos and video by Daniel Johnson