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From development to saving a life: Good Samaritan Society Bethany sees patients on both sides of the LVAD heart pump device

From development to saving a life: Good Samaritan Society Bethany sees patients on both sides of the LVAD heart pump device

BRAINERD, Minnesota, March 1, 2019 Nursing and therapy employees at Good Samaritan Society Bethany are helping patients achieve physical well-being after LVAD surgery with their post-acute rehab program.

"Today I walked all the way down across the building to the therapy center for the first time," says Bethany post-acute rehab patient Marvin Wernberg. He recently underwent a procedure at CentraCare in St. Cloud to implement his heart pumping device called a left ventricular assist device or LVAD. He is now well on his way to living with normal life patterns of a man in his mid-70s with the help of the nursing and therapy team at Bethany.

The device, with external batteries, helps push blood through his heart at a motor speed of 9,000 RPMs, allowing it to function at the level it should. Marvin aspires to share with others that may benefit from this surgery that they are able get the procedure and therapy close to home. He enjoys sharing his success story and says he never says no to spreading knowledge that could help someone else. The therapy at Bethany, he says, "has been very effective; they did a good job of training the nurses to take care of me with my LVAD."

"Our nurses get excited to be able to provide care for complex and individualized patient rehab needs," says Marie Walker, Director of Nursing. By caring for patients like Marvin, nursing employees have a chance to exercise and develop their own skills while helping those they serve return to their lives after surgery.

Just a few doors down the hall, a patient who had a hand in the early development of the LVAD is also receiving rehab therapy. The patient, who prefers not to be named, worked at Medtronic for most of his career as the Director of Research and Development.

"Originally, the team was working to create a completely artificial heart. The question really was whether it had to pulsate in order to function," he says. After more research and testing on cows in San Diego, the original LVAD was developed in the 1980s. "Im glad that it has been able to help so many, and very neat that a patient with the LVAD is receiving care right where I am." He is still inventing. Sitting in front of him at the time of the interview was a drawing of his most recent idea. The interview was cut short with a scheduled phone call to sell his newest medical device development.

About Good Samaritan Society Bethany: Good Samaritan Society Bethany provides rehabilitation therapy in their transitional care unit for around 30 patients at a time in addition to 76 long term care residents. For more information on what Bethany offers on its campus visit or for career opportunities,

About the Good Samaritan Society: The Evangelical Lutheran Good Samaritan Society is the nations largest not-for-profit, faith-based organization providing senior housing and services. Founded in 1922 and headquartered in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, the Society became part of Sanford Health in 2019. Through this partnership, the Society offers a full continuum of care. Together, our shared Lutheran roots will give us greater opportunity to share Gods love through the work of health, healing and comfort with seniors and others in need.