Inspiring Stories

A Tire Change That Turned a Patient's Day Around

Nov. 9, 2018. Many will remember that Friday for the morning snowstorm that put nearly everyone in Omaha behind schedule. Slick and blustery conditions caused a number of accidents during the morning commute, and average speeds in most areas were between 10 and 15 mph.

“The morning was a mess,” said Kellie Hamilton, a medical receptionist at Methodist Physicians Clinic Indian Hills. “We had patients calling in left and right, cancelling their appointments – and who could blame them?”

Victoria Schlatter, another medical receptionist working at the same clinic that day, braved the roads from Waterloo.

“I almost called Kellie to tell her I wasn’t going to make it.” Schlatter said. “It was about a 2 1/2 hour drive in for me. There were multiple times I almost got hit. It was dangerous.”

Pregnant with her second child, Angie Bailey was set to have her 20 week ultrasound at the clinic that morning. She made it safely, but with a flat tire.

“When I realized it, I just started bawling,” she said. “It was just everything. The hormones, the weather, my dad just had a heart attack the Tuesday before, and the last thing I wanted was for my husband to take our 2-year-old son out in the storm to come fix my tire.”

Medical receptionist and mechanic

Hamilton’s was the first face Angie saw when she walked into the clinic.

“She came in crying, told me her situation, and my heart just broke for her,” Hamilton said. “I’m a AAA member, so I called, and they said they could be here by 10:30 a.m.”

Right about the time Hamilton was getting off the phone with AAA, Schlatter walked in.

Schlatter, who also happens to be a Navy Reservist and aircraft mechanic, spent the first half of 2018 deployed. While stationed in Misawa, Japan, she worked on hydraulic systems and changed tires that weigh more than she does. She did all of this in brutally cold weather.

“Think of the windiest, coldest day in Nebraska,” she said. “That’s what I experienced for six months in Japan.”

In the right place at the right time, Schlatter offered to change Angie’s tire.

“Angie was very concerned about me getting dirty,” Schlatter explained with a laugh. “I told her, ‘First of all, I wear a black uniform, and I also own a washing machine. Let’s go change your tire.’”

Providing care in the cold

Angie still tears up when she talks about that morning.

“The whole time I just kept thinking, ‘How blessed am I?’” she said. “The fact that these two people would go so out of their way – I mean, everything was going wrong, and they made everything right.”

Hamilton called to cancel her AAA service, and Schlatter, who never anticipated spending any length of time outside that day, vowed to dress more appropriately for the next snowstorm.

“My fingers were definitely paralyzed,” she said jokingly. “They were definitely frozen when I was done.”

But she’d do it again in a heartbeat.

As soon as the weather conditions improved, Angie delivered cookies to the clinic to show her appreciation.

“It really goes to show that there are good people in this world,” she added. “And a lot of them work at Methodist.”

About the Author

Jessica Gill, the External Communications Manager for Methodist Health System, is a former television news anchor and journalist. She has a passion for story-telling and illustrating Methodist’s Meaning of Care.

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